Past Auction

Rare Books, Autographs & Maps

Tue, Nov 07, 2017 at 10am EST |
New York
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  • Auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on November 7, 2017
  • Including Colorplate Books of the American West After Karl Bodmer and George Catlin, and Robert Thornton's Classic Folio, The Temple of Flora
  • Featuring a World War II Era Enigma Machine

NEW YORK, NY -- On November 7, 2017, Doyle held an auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps. The sale offered a wide assortment of material ranging from early illuminated manuscripts to modern literary first editions.

With competitive bidding in the salesroom, on the telephones and on the Internet, the sale totaled $1,097,375 against an estimate of $859,900-1,352,900, with a strong 82% sold by lot and 96% sold by value.

Color-Plate Books

Highlighting the sale was a group of 80 color plates from the atlas of Prince Maximilian’s Travels in the Interior of North America that achieved $175,000, far surpassing its estimate of $40,000-60,000. The Swiss painter Karl Bodmer was commissioned by Prince Maximilian to record his 1832-34 journey up the Missouri River where the expedition encountered the major Plains Tribes: Cree, Assinboine, Mandan, Mintari, Crow, and Blackfeet. The images of the Blackfeet and Mandan people are particularly important as these tribes were greatly diminished by an 1837 smallpox epidemic, thus this legendary atlas is a rare primary account of cultures that were virtually lost in the aftermath.

One of just eight copies known of this issue, the 1845 New York edition of George Catlin’s North American Indian Portfolio was pirated from the English edition by New York lithographer James Ackerman, whose aim was to garner recognition for American artists and to encourage continuing the production of such works on native soil. The folio sold at its low estimate of $100,000.

The publication of The Temple of Flora, [1799]-1807, ruined its author and publisher, Robert Thornton, but the extravagance that financially doomed the project resulted in the greatest of all English flower books. The copy in the sale has thirty superb floral plates, all imbued with a thoroughly Romantic aesthetic, and is an unusually complete example, with all of the five frontispieces in colored state. The folio fetched $75,000, near the top end of its $60,000-80,000 estimate.

Enigma Machine

The Enigma 1 machine was used by the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe during World War II to encode orders and instructions, using a complex system of rotors and patch cables. The German High Command believed the Enigma cipher to be totally secure; British cryptographers at Bletchley Park under Alan Turing were able to break it, giving Britain and its allies a huge military advantage that may have shortened the War by as much as two years. The example in the sale is from a Private Minneapolis Collection and sold for $75,000 against an estimate of $80,000-120,000.

We invite you to view a video of Doyle Specialist Edward Ripley-Duggan demonstrating the Enigma Machine.

View the Video Demonstration


British surveyor John Montressor’s A Plan of the City of New-York was produced in secret for the purpose of mounting defenses of British strongholds as the Stamp Act Riots engulfed New York. The 1767 first edition is quite scarce and precedes the better known “Ratzer Plan” of the city by two years. Property of a New York Collector, the map fetched $46,875, many times its estimate of $8,000-12,000.


An early letter from George Washington to his brother-in-law Burwell Bassett is dated 9 August 1759, just 8 months into his first year of marriage to Martha Custis. The letter regards the procurement of items for Mount Vernon and other matters, mentioning Mrs. Washington twice in addition to other notable Virginians of the period associated with Washington, including William Mercer, Henry Churchill and Colonel George William Fairfax. The letter sold for $20,000, within its estimate of $15,000-20,000.

Jacqueline Kennedy / Oleg Cassini Fashion Archive

A important fashion archive spanning 1960-1963 and comprising original dress designs, swatches, ephemera and notes from Jacqueline Kennedy as First Lady to her favored designer, Oleg Cassini sold for $11,875 against an estimate of $10,000-15,000. Portions of this fascinating archive were displayed in the landmark 2001 exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years.

We Invite You to Auction!

Consignments are currently being accepted for the Spring 2018 auction of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps. 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. For information, 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:

Peter Costanzo
212-427-4141, ext 248
[email protected]

Edward Ripley-Duggan
212-427-4141, ext 234
[email protected]

Media Contact

Louis LeB. Webre
SVP, Marketing & Media
212-427-4141, ext 232
[email protected]

  • Estate of George Labalme, Jr.
  • Estate of Henriette Montgomery
  • Estate of Lila H. Barrows
  • Estate of Oliver Allen
  • Estate of Rhoda Blumberg
  • Property from a Connecticut Private Collector
  • Property from a Private Minneapolis Collection
  • Property from the Collection of a Sherman Oaks Lady
  • Property from the Collection of Judith Taubman
  • Property of a New York Collector
  • Property of a North Carolina Family
  • The Collection of Willa Kim and William Pène du Bois
  • The College of New Rochelle
  • The Estate of Aileen Mehle
  • The Eva Kane Trust
  • The James P. and Joan M. Warburg Collection
  • The Nelson Doubleday, Jr. Collection

A Selection of Auction Highlights

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