Past Auction

Doyle New York's Auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on November 5, 2012 Surpasses Estimate

Mon, Nov 05, 2012 at 10am EST |
New York
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Sale Totals $1,604,594 Against an Estimate of $849,200-1,255,000

  • Sale Totals $1,604,594 Against an Estimate of $849,200-1,255,000
  • Important George Washington Letter Fetches $362,500
  • Letter from Emma Hamilton to Lord Nelson Sets a New Auction Record at 68,500

On November 5, Doyle New York held an auction of Rare Books, Autographs and Photographs. Among the offerings were manuscripts and early printing, color plate, Americana, travel, sporting, literature, illustrations, artist books, fine bindings, private press, maps and atlases.

Despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the sale totaled a strong $1,604,594, surpassing the pre-sale estimate of $849,200-1,255,000, with an exceptional 90% sold by lot and 96% sold by value.

George Washington

The auction began with a substantial section of Americana that most notably included an important 1783 autograph letter from George Washington to wartime aide James McHenry announcing his intention to retire from public service. This letter sold for $362,500, the fourth highest price ever recorded for the sale of a Washington letter at auction and the highest price for a single-page letter by him. (more)


Other strong results in Americana were $22,500 reached for the log of the ship Alfred, an exceptionally rare survival, the log of the purser on board an American naval vessel during the Revolutionary war, from January 1777 to February 1778. Another remarkable offering was an original album of topographical drawings made during Wheeler’s 1875 exploration of California by C. W. Whipple. This made $34,375, and detailed topographical drawings in what would become Los Angeles. $28,125 was achieved for an early 18th century sammelband of religious works, including several by Cotton Mather.


In Autographs, a world record price of $68,500 was set for a letter by Emma Hamilton one of the final missives sent to Lord Nelson, who died at Trafalgar before its receipt. Two original manuscript leaves in the hand of Noah Webster reached $17,500, a world record for any of the surviving fragments in public hands of the manuscript for his 1828 dictionary.  The archive of musical scores by African-American composer Margaret Bonds achieved $5,938.

Travel & Voyages

A group of Travel & Voyages was highlighted by the first collected edition of the voyages of Sir Francis Drake which brought $7,500, and a first edition of William Bligh’s Narrative of the Mutiny on board His Majesty's ship Bounty made $5,625.

Color Plate Books

Among color plate books, a set of the Microcosm of London made $5000, a copy of the rare Hans Burgkmaier's Turnier-Buch, Frankfurt, 1855 achieved $2375, and a set of Michaux and Nuttall, The North American Sylva realized $3,000. An unusual offering was two original engraved copper plates used in printing John Prideaux Selby’s Illustrations of English Ornithology, which made $3437.50 and $4,375 respectively. 


Among manuscripts, a Humanist work including Bracellius’ account of the Ligurian coast made $16,250, an unusual Chinese manuscript of street traders achieved $6,250 and an early Carta Executoria made $4,375.

Elizabethan Books

The sale then proceeded to an extensive run of Elizabethan books and books by Elizabethan authors, many of which were of the greatest rarity. Here, outstanding prices were fetched by John Webster The deuils law-case… 1623, the first quarto edition, which achieved $25,000; a very rare Elizabethan sporting imprint, George Wilson The commendation of cockes, and cock-fighting, 1607, attained the same price; Burghley’s The copie of a letter sent out of England to Don Bernardin Mendoza which attained $10,625; Holland’s Treatise against Witchcraft 1590, $8,750, and many other very strong prices. Elizabethan material has been featured over our past three auctions, and there is clearly still a strong market despite the limited amount of material that comes up for sale.

English Printing

Among a small group of other English imprints was John Bale A mysterye of inyquyte contayned within the heretycall genealogye of Ponce Pantolabus which sold for $13,750. Drayton’s remarkable Poly-Olbion, the third issue, sold for $6,250. Early continental printing featured a 1512 edition of Martial de Paris, printed by Trepperel’s widow, a fine copy that realized $5,625. An exceedingly imperfect incunable Boccacio Florio und Bianceffora made $5,625, largely on the strength of the fine wood engravings in early hand coloring.


In the field of nineteenth and century literature, strong prices were attained by a set of the Author’s Autograph Edition of Whitman, with an exceptionally attractive leaf in Whitman’s hand, which made $22,500. Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage, an attractive copy in the rare dust-jacket, was hammered down at $10,625. A copy of Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Green Gables in a remarkable state of preservation made $10,000. A fine Hemingway inscribed to Robert Gros by Hemingway and additionally by Martha Gellhorn made $7,500 and a particularly attractive example of Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake $8,125.

Sets and Bindings

Sets and bindings were as usual a popular area, with a charming little royal binding inset with miniatures of members of the House of Savoy realizing $5,625. The Autograph Edition of Mark Twain’s works sold at $10,000, and a Roycroft binding by Henry Avery accomplished a remarkable $5,000, demonstrating that interest in that East Aurora establishment remains firm.

Artist Autograph Letters

An unusual feature of the sale was a fine collection of artist autograph letters, primarily (but not exclusively) the Impressionists.Here, a Gauguin letter to Pissarro made $28,125; a Cezanne letter to Emile Bernard $18,750; a Degas letter to Julie Manet $8,125; and a pair of fine Monet letters $6,875 and $5,625. Moving from artist letters to illustration art, a Peanuts cartoon drawn by Schulz sold for $13,750; a Bemelmans drawing of Paris realized $5,312.50; and an Arthur Szyk miniature of the Lord’s Prayer made $4,375.

Artist Books

Finally, in books on the arts, the folio 1792 Holbein in a contemporary binding hammered down at $10,000, a set of the first four issues of the seminal journal XXe Siècle made $3,125, a lot with the Maillol Virgil of the Cranach Press made $5,312.50, the Dali Alice $5,937 and a worn copy of Andy Warhol’s 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy $28,125.

All prices include the buyer's premium.


Doyle New York's next auction of Rare Books, Autographs and Maps is scheduled for April 23, 2013. Consignments are currently being accepted. We invite you to contact us for a complimentary auction evaluation. Our specialists are always available to discuss the sale of a single item or an entire collection. Please contact Edward Ripley-Duggan at 212-427-4141, ext 234, or Peter Costanzo at ext. 248, or email [email protected]

Consignments are currently being accepted

To have your property evaluated for possible consignment in the next auction, please contact:

Cindy Klein

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Louis LeB. Webre
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