Printed & Manuscript Americana: At Auction September 24, 2020

Lot 164: Guest register for the legendary Catskill Mountain House, including signatures for many notable guests, 1839-43, 1846-52. $5,000 to $7,500.

Previewing Through September 23 By Appointment Only

Covering a period of about five centuries and two continents, our auctions of Printed & Manuscript Americana are exceptionally varied in content and subjects covered, from colonialism and the Westward expansion of the United States, to Presidential material and first-hand accounts by ordinary persons of important historical moments. In this sale, we are fond of an archive of photographs from the set of the first film shot in Alaska, and the 1839–52 guest register for the legendary Catskill Mountain House hotel in upstate New York (pictured above). An early tourist destination in its own right, the register is signed by Hudson River School artists, as well as authors and political leaders who came to take in the view.

Lot 192: Elizabeth Shoumatoff, three watercolor studies for the famous “Unfinished Portrait” of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1945. $40,000 to $60,000.

Native Peoples

A strong selection of material relating to Native peoples starts the sale off, with scarce books in French, rarely seen photographs, including an archive on a Civil War–era performing troupe, and an early engraving of the Mohawk chief Sa Ga Yean Qua Rash Tow (Peter Brant).

Lot 1: Sa Ga Yean Qua Rash Tow, Coning Vande Maquas alias Coning Brant, mezzotint engraving by Pieter Schenck, Netherlands, circa 1710s. $3,000 to $4,000.

American Revolution

Lot 21: Stamp from the Stamp Act of 1765, embossed, “II Shillings VI Pence.” $6,000 to $9,000.

Civil War–Era

The highlight of the Civil War section is a wonderful sketchbook by the soldier-artist John Richard, containing 55 drawings done in the closing months of the war.

Lot 51: John Richard, sketchbook kept by the well-known soldier/artist during the last months of the war, 55 ink and wash drawings, 1865. $25,000 to $35,000.


American Judaica includes Mordecai Noah’s Discourse on the Restoration of the Jews and Isaac Leeser’s important 1845 Philadelphia translation of the Pentateuch into English.

Lot 108: The Law of God, five volumes, first edition, first Jewish translation of the Pentateuch into English, 1845-46. $6,000 to $9,000.

Manuscript Diaries

Lot 240: Diary of James W. Bentley, a cavalry officer protecting settlers on the Overland Trail, 1865. $15,000 to $25,000.

Further Reading: The Value of Old Diaries

Latin Americana & The Caribbean

A standout item among Latin Americana is the 1611 first edition of Vocabulario manual de las lenguas castellana, y mexicana by Pedro de Arenas, an important Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary.

Lot 272: Pedro de Arenas, Vocabulario manual de las lenguas castellana y mexicana, complete first edition, Mexico, 1611. $12,000 to $18,000.
Lot 339: Manuscript confirmation of arms and nobility in favor of the Esquivel y Vargas family, Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico, 1731. $5,000 to $7,500.

What You Need to Know for Auction Day

This auction will be held live and conducted remotely by Swann auctioneers taking bids from multiple platforms. While there will not be bidding in the room, we will be accepting order bids, and interested buyers will be able to participate live online via the Swann Galleries App. The app is available in the App Store and on Google Play, and it can also be accessed on a desktop at

Please note: limited phone bidding will be available for this auction. Phone bidding registrations will close the day before the sale at 4pm.

At this time, our exhibition and auction location at 104 East 25th Street is closed to the public. Private viewings are available by appointment only, and must be arranged in advance. To make an appointment please contact our Exhibitions Coordinator Leah Fletcher,

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Specialist for the Sale

Rick Stattler

Director, Printed & Manuscript Americana

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