Auction Highlights: Printed & Manuscript Americana — June 27, 2024

Our June 27 Americana sale stretches across the ages from the 1500s to the 1980s. The age of early exploration is represented by a lovely 1590 De Bry Latin printing of Thomas Hariot’s report on the “New Found Land of Virginia.” A large offering of Revolutionary War-era pamphlets is illustrated by more graphic material, such as a scarce French engraving of the surrender at Yorktown (one other known at auction since 1916). A highlight of the Civil War section is a manuscript order by General Sherman issued on his March to the Sea: “Enforce a devastation more or less relentless.” 

For the Wild West lovers, we have an original charcoal portrait of Buffalo Bill Cody by the artist Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. For those captivated by the tragedy of the Titanic, we have the letters of the Johnston family, emigrating from Scotland to America in steerage: “Our boat has been canceled owing to the coal strike, so they are transferring us onto the Titanic, a new one. This will be her first voyage.” All nine family members perished.

The sale features a large aviation section which arrived from several different consignors, including a photo album from the 1910 Harvard Boston Aero Meet (the first such event in the United States). A 28-lot Judaica section (also from several consignors) spans from George Washington’s famous “Address to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport” through World War Two. 

This sale includes several lots of African Americana for those who do not wish to wait until our annual sale in March. These include the 1852 first separate printing of Frederick Douglass’s scathing 4th of July speech, which has not appeared at auction in twenty years, and an original “I Am A Man” poster from Martin Luther King’s final march in Memphis. 

The Latin Americana section includes a wonderful 1803 illustrated Mexican book on the ages of man titled simply “Soneto”, which contains two more plates than either of the other known surviving copies. 

Lot 45: French engraving of the surrender at Yorktown, Reddition de l’Armée Angloises, hand-colored engraving, vertical fold, light foxing, spot-mounted to decorative mat, Paris: Mondhare, circa 1781. Estimate $12,000 to $18,000.
Lot 58: Photo album of the Harvard Boston Aero Meet, the first major aviation meet in the United States, 66 photographs, laid down on 33 album leaves with tidy captions, plus 11 pages of clippings from the event program, Quincy, MA, September 1910. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.
Lot 78: I Am a Man, from the march led by Martin Luther King in support of striking Memphis sanitation workers, Memphis, TN, 28 March 1968. Estimate $15,000 to $25,000.
Lot 270: Frederick Douglass, Oration Delivered in Corinthian Hall, Rochester, 39 pages, Rochester, NY: Lee, Mann & Co., 1852. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.
Lot 290: Thomas Hariot, Admiranda narratio fida tamen, de commodis et incolarum ritibus Virginiae (Part One of DeBry’s Great Voyages in Latin), complete with 64 leaves including 31 illustrations, Frankfurt: Theodore De Bry, 1590. Estimate $25,000 to $35,000.
Lot 145: Address of the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, with George Washington’s famous response, 4 pages, Gazette of the United States, Volume II, issue 45, New York, 15 September 1790. Estimate $8,000 to $12,000.
Lot 201: Letters by and about two steerage passengers who died while emigrating to America aboard the Titanic, 20 items in one folder, most March to May 1912. Estimate $4,000 to $6,000.

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