View from the Podium: 80 Years & Counting

A Note From Swann Galleries President Nicholas D. Lowry

April 4, 2022

You may not have noticed given all that’s going on in the world but on March 27, Swann Galleries achieved a landmark occasion: our 80th anniversary

I have always very much enjoyed the practice of aligning anniversaries with their respective gifts. The traditional lists, primarily geared toward marriages, are entertaining, informative, and imbued with significance. As we at Swann celebrate our 80th anniversary I am delighted to note that the symbol for this milestone is oak. Not just wood, which is customarily ascribed to one’s 5th anniversary; but oak. A symbol of strength and endurance. 

The past two years have certainly been an endurance test for us. For us all. And it seems like there is yet more to endure. While the pandemic may be slipping into an endemic stage, the world is hardly a calm and reassuring place at the moment and peace of mind is still an elusive concept. 

But through it all Swann has been strong; our staff is as good as they have ever been, our sales are robust, our offerings continue to be enticing, and our clients continue to be excited by what we bring to auction and fulfilled with the services we provide. 

Like the mighty oak, Swann continues to grow. It is heartwarming to watch our branches expand, extending outwards to cover a wider area of the market and collector interest. In the years following our first auction in 1942, where we began selling books and literary properties, we have continued to branch out, finding new and exciting niches. Photographs & Photobooks (recently commemorated its 70th year), Printed & Manuscript African Americana (now in its 26th year), African American Art (currently celebrating 15 years), LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History (coming up on its 4th iteration), Focus on Women (launching its second sale), and Latinx (beginning this Spring) are all departments in which Swann was a pioneer and has continued to champion with exhilarating results. 

Also (not to belabor the analogy too far), every oak has its acorns, and these past few months we have welcomed three new children into the extended Swann family with a fourth on its way.

So while the geopolitical situation may not look so bright at the moment, the view from the podium is really quite fine. If nothing else, I can’t help thinking that with this red-letter day for us, Swann has been around for ten years longer than Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne of England, no small achievement indeed. And that for our next landmark anniversary of note, 85 years, we will be able to celebrate with a symbolic moonstone. 

I for one am very much looking forward to that. 

Thank you all for your continued support throughout our first 80 years. 


Nicholas D. Lowry
President & Principal Auctioneer

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