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Potter & Potter's April 18 Fine Books & Manuscripts Sale Totals $364,000
This highly anticipated semi-annual event, featuring a collection of outstanding James Bond literature, captured the eye, attention, and wallets of Ian Fleming enthusiasts worldwide.
Potter & Potter Auctions' Fine Books and Manuscripts Sale sale, streamed live from the auction gallery and conducted entirely online and through telephone bidding, was a dramatic success and exceeded its high estimate by almost 20%. At the conclusion, 61 lots realized $750-1,999; 27 lots made $2,000-4,999; and 7 lots broke the $5,000 barrier. Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.
Remarkable first editions of Ian Fleming's James Bond spy novels performed well – with some soaring above their pre-auction estimates. Lot #1, a first edition of Fleming's Casino Royale, published in 1953 by Jonathan Cape of London, was estimated at $8,000-12,000 and fetched $22,800. One of 4,728 printed, this copy retained its original first issue dust jacket and was housed in a matching custom cloth clamshell case, stamped in gilt and with red heart-shaped morocco inlays. Lot #35, a first edition, first printing of Fleming's 1963 Thrilling Cities, brought $6,600. Published in London by Jonathan Cape, it was inscribed and signed on the title page to Fleming’s personal friend and American spy, David Bruce: “Dave/To keep your mind/off your work!/Ian”. Lot #17, a first edition, first printing of Fleming's 1954 Live and Let Die was estimated at $1,000-1,400 and made $4,320. Also published in London by Jonathan Cape, this example included its first issue, second state unclipped dust jacket with credit to Kenneth Lewis and the author overprinted on the front flap.
Rare first editions, some signed by the authors or illustrators, also achieved very impressive results. Lot #286, George Herman Ruth's Babe Ruth's Own Book of Baseball (1928) was estimated at $3,000-5,000 and sold for $5,280. The book was limited to 1,000 signed copies, of which this example was no. 434, featuring the Babe's clean and bold signature on the limitation page. Lot #392, a near fine example of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, The Astronomer-Poet of Persia…with an accompaniment of drawings by Elihu Vedder, fetched $6,600. This first edition (thus), one of 100 copies published in 1884 in Boston by Houghton Mifflin and Company, is signed by the illustrator on its limitation page. Lot #314, W.Y. Evans-Wentz's first English edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead (1927) was estimated at only $200-300 and brought $1,440. Published by Oxford University Press, it featured a photograph frontispiece and was graphically illustrated with intertextual woodcuts and photographic plates.
This sale's offering of multi-volume sets, works, and collections proved irresistible. Lot #106, 24 volumes of Robert van Gulik's Chinese Detective Stories or Judge Dee Mysteries sold for $3,600 againsts its $600-800 presale estimate. This grouping included many UK and US first editions.
Lot #312, The Works of Charles Dickens, the Cruikshank Edition, was estimated at $200-300 but realized $1,920. Published in Boston by Samuel E. Cassino at the turn of the 19th century, the set was limited to 500 copies, of which this was no. 339. Lot #389, William Hazlitt's four volume The Life of Napoleon Buonaparte sold for $1,560 against the $200-300 estimate. This second edition, first printing set was published in 1852 in London by the Office of the Illustrated London Library.
Selections of fine artwork in various categories also did well. Lot #665, Sean Scully's (American/Irish, b. 1945) Heart of Darkness signed portfolio – created exclusively for Joseph Conrad's novella – was estimated at $4,000-6,000 and sold for $9,000. This complete set of eight signed and numbered color aquatint etchings were produced in a 20 set limited edition, the complete edition having not been offered at auction previously. Lot #666, a 25- 1/2” tall polystyrene on wood sculpture, by Victor Vasarely (1908–1997) was estimated at $3,000-4,000 and brought $5,280. Titled MC 146, it was produced in 1974, signed by the artist on the lower front, numbered 12/50. Lot #652, a signed Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859–1923) etching (ca.1898) brought $2,640 against its $400-600 pre-auction estimate. Lot #569, a large group of 26 original and signed Howard Finster (American, 1916–2001) limited serigraphs more than tripled their high estimate, selling at $4,080.
This successful sale concluded with outstanding selections of postcards, ephemera, antiques, and other rarities that bridged standard collecting categories. Lot #466, a 17th century book on eye disease by the father of modern ophthalmology Georg Bartisch (1535–1606) was estimated at $1,000-2,000 and fetched $4,320. This example was the last edition of the first systematic work on eye diseases and ophthalmic surgery and one of the earliest works to be published in the vernacular rather than the traditional Greek or Latin. Lot #681, a collection of more than 120 Playboy magazines from the 1950s and 1960s sold for $3,120 against its $300-500 estimate.
Lot #285, a Babe Ruth real photo postcard from 1928 was estimated at $100-200 and sold for $2,400. It depicted the Babe leaning up against a car at Athletic Field in Kingston, New York.
According to Gabe Fajuri, President of Potter & Potter Auctions, "To say that we were heartened by the results of our book auction would be an understatement... I credit our book specialist, Chris Brink, for gathering together robust selections in a wide range of categories... with results being exceptional across the board. A 97% sell-through rate..."
The company's next sale, its May Magic Auction, will be held on May 2nd, 2020. Given current public health regulations, the event will be live streamed from the company's Chicago gallery and all bidding will take place online through Potter & Potter Auctions' website. Phone and absentee bids are also welcome. No live, in-person auction preview is available, but all lots can be viewed on the company's website. For more information, please view the website at: www.potterauctions.com.