Modern first editions sell well at Potter & Potter auctions
Chicago – Potter & Potter Auctions’ April 26, 2022 literature sale was a cover-to-cover success with a 97% sell-through rate. When the hammer fell silent after a long day of heated bidding, 58 lots made between $1,000 and $3,999; 20 lots reported between $4,000 and $9,999; and seven lots broke the five-figure mark. Prices quoted include the company’s 20% buying commission.
Signed, first edition and presentation copies from the pre-war era won several of the top spots at this incredible event.
Lot #74, a presentation copy by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) Gatsby the magnificent, was estimated between $30,000 and $50,000 and made $67,200. It was published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1925 and registered to Margaret Turnbull. Trumbull owned La Paix, an estate with a large house near Towson, Maryland. The Fitzgeralds rented La Paix because of its proximity to Johns Hopkins, where Zelda Fitzgerald was being cared for.
Lot #107, a first edition, first copy by Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) A farewell to arms, was estimated between $4,000 and $6,000 and delivered $21,600. It was published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1929, included its original dust jacket from the first issue, and was listed with the author’s colleague who covered the Civil War in Spain.
Lot #221, a copy of Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) The Ballad of Reading Gaol, was estimated between $7,000 and $10,000 and earned $26,400. This limited edition copy, number 16 of 99, was published in London by Leonard Smithers in 1898 and was signed by Wilde.
Lot #199, John Steinbeck (1902–1968) Of mice and Men was estimated between $2,000 and $3,000 and sold for $10,200. This first edition, first issue example, was published in New York by Covici Friede in 1937. This fine example included its original uncut dust jacket and was inscribed “For Walter P. Bunson / John Steinbeck ’37”.
Also featured in this sale were a number of signed first edition volumes from the second half of the 20th century.
Lot #7, a copy of Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) I robot, is estimated between $3,000 and $5,000 and traded at $10,800. This first edition of Asimov’s second book was published in 1950 by Gnome Press in New York and listed Edith Ogutsch, poet and author of science fiction and fantasy.
Lot #115, Frank Herbert (1920-1986) God Emperor of Dune, was estimated between $300 and $400 and closed at $1,200. This first edition, signed copy was published in 1981 in New York by GP Putnam’s Sons and included its original unclipped dust jacket.
And a series of remarkable publications by 20th-century writers have come full circle in this sale.
· Lot #100, a first edition of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, was estimated between $8,000 and $12,000 and climbed to $22,800. It was printed in 1930 in New York by Alfred A. Knopf and included his rare original first issue dust jacket with the abstract printed on the front flap and a custom cloth folding box by Dragonfly Bindery.
· Lot #87, two first editions, first books by Theodore Geisel (“Dr. Seuss” 1904–1991), was estimated at $300-500 realized $1,680. These included How the Grinch Stole Christmas! from 1957 and Dr. Seuss Sleep Book from 1962. Both were printed in New York by Random House and included their original dust jackets.
· Lot #76, a collection of four first editions by Ian Fleming (1908-1964), was estimated between $400 and $600 and sold for $1,800. All were published in London by Jonathan Cape. These included thunder ball from 1961; you only live twice from 1964; The man with the golden gun from 1965; and Octopussy and the Living Daylights from 1966.
Lot #197, an exceptionally fine first edition copy of John Steinbeck (1902–1968) Grapes of Wrath, was estimated between $4,000 and $6,000 and fetched $10,200. It was published in New York by The Viking Press in 1939. It retained its original uncut illustrated dust jacket with a “first edition” statement on its front flap corner.
According to Christopher Brink, Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Potter & Potter Auctions, “We have been pleased with the strength of prices for Modern Literature. We have averaged $2,000 per lot and have exceeded most high estimates while breaking multiple auction records along the way including the Wilde signed limited edition of The Ballad of Reading Gaol for $26,400. We’ve certainly had some of the best-selling books in the country to kick off the new year and we’re looking forward to the third quarter with our monumental sale in October which will feature the first printed work of Aristotle from the Aldine Press as well as many other early works, America and literature.”