Rare finds draw international crowd
Boston will be living up to its reputation as the “Athens of America’’ this week with more than 120 book dealers from the United States, Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Argentina convening here for the 35th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair at Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center.
In addition to the rare, collectible, and antiquarian books on exhibit and for sale, there will be illuminated manuscripts, maps, atlases, photographs, and prints.
Among the highlights are first editions by James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, an inscribed six-volume set of Winston Churchill’s “The Second World War,’’ and film director Frank Capra’s manuscript of James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon.’’
Also among the offerings is a first edition of Louisa May Alcott ’s first book, “Flower Fables,’’ consisting of eight stories and seven poems written when she was 16 for her friend Ellen Emerson, daughter of Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was not published until six years later. Only 1,600 copies were printed for which Alcott received $32. The copy being offered by Second Life Books of Lanesborough is priced at $2,000.
Musical offerings are as varied as a collection of opera libretti from the library of the late Maria Callas, two conducting batons and a cigar cutter owned and used by Richard Wagner, and a copy of Bob Dylan’s “Bringing It All Back Home’’ album signed by Jimi Hendrix.
Special programs, which are free with the price of admission, include talks on books and a roundtable discussion on collecting Saturday at 1, 3 and 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Appraisals will be given on books brought to the fair on Sunday from 1-3 p.m.
Fair hours are Friday from 5-9 p.m., Saturday from noon-7 p.m., and Sunday from noon-5 p.m. Admission is $8 with Friday’s $15 ticket providing admission throughout the weekend. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit the Boston Public Library and the American Antiquarian Society.
Skinner’s Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction next Sunday at 11 a.m. is highlighted by an extremely rare holographic copy of the resolution of Congress proposing the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution. The amendment abolishing slavery was ratified on Dec. 6, 1865. The document being auctioned is one of few in existence and is expected to bring $200,000-$300,000.
A document relating to Boston is an April 4, 1863, letter from President Lincoln in response to a letter from Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts concerning defense of Boston Harbor during the Civil War. It has a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
In addition to the books and manuscripts the auction offers a selection of Audubon prints, maps and atlases, including a collection of Revolutionary War maps and charts of Boston with a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.
The more than 600 books in the sale include 18th- and 19th-century books on Arctic exploration ($14,000-$16,000), a 1934 first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is The Night’’ ($6,000-$8,000) and Samuel Johnson’s first edition two-volume “A Dictionary of the English Language’’ published in London in 1755 ($12,000-$15,000).
A George II giltwood pier table with carved eagle supports and a marble top highlights Northeast Auctions’ Fall Auction Saturday and Sunday at noon at Treadwell Mansion, Portsmouth, N.H.
The table, believed to match one in Clarence House, the official London residence of Charles, the Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, is from the estate of Sam Abate of Boston, The estimate is $20,000-$40,000.
Other important furniture includes a circa 1745-55 mahogany tray-top table of the Newport, R.I, Goddard-Townsend School ($30,000-$50,000), a 17th-century Pilgrim blanket chest from the Duxbury area ($20,000-$30,000) and a late 18th-century New Hampshire Queen Anne tiger mnple highboy ($15,000-$25,000).
Items of historic interest include an 18th-century Dutch Delft polychrome mantel garniture comprising five vases ($12,000-$18,000) from the estate of Betty Washington Whiting, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Martha Washington ($12,000-$18,000), and a pair of French porcelain vases with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson depicted in bust-length portraits ($40,000-$60,000).
A large selection of artwork is being offered at Phyllis O’Leary’s auction Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Masonic Lodge in Needham.
Paintings by Charles Woodbury (1864-1940), Theodore V.C. Valenkamph (1868-1924) and Wendell F. Macy (1852-1902) are among the works by American artists. while European artists include Charles Leickert (1816-1907) and Vincent de Vos (1829-75), both of Belgium, and Jacques Villon (1875-1963) of France.
Among other artwork are drawings by two author-illustrators Maurice Sendak and Tasha Tudor. The drawing by Tudor, a Boston-born Vermont artist whose works and images reflect 18th-century farm life in New England, is of a young girl. Sendak’s drawing is a self-portrait depicting him standing before a full-length mirror and waving to his childhood idol Mickey Mouse.
Other highlights of the auction include an Arts & Crafts 18-karat gold pin centered with an aquamarine by Frank Gardner Hale, an 1850-70s New England Glass Company inkwell, a 16th-century bronze of a Tibetan Buddha, a pair of Lalique birds, a Webb cameo vase, and a German carved wood chess set.
Connoisseurs of French wines will find choice offerings at Skinner’s Fine Wines Auction Tuesday at 4 p.m. at its Boston gallery.
Topping the wines are 12 bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild’s 1982 vintage ($35,000-$50,000), four bottles of Chateau Petrus 1961 vintage ($20,000-$30,000), and four bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 vintage ($16,000-$24,000).
For those interested in buying Bordeaux wines at a lower cost there are three bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1961 vintage with an $800-$1,200 estimate, three bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild of 1985, 1989, and 1990 vintage, also with an $800-$1,200 estimate, and one bottle of Chateau Petrus 1969 vintage ($400-$600).
The more than 150 lots of California wines have estimates ranging from $4,500-$6,500 for three bottles of Napa Valley’s Screaming Eagle to $125-$225 for one bottle of Sine Qua Non Pictures Grenache 2007 vintage.
Virginia Bohlin can be reached at globeantiques @globe.com.