Last week a soldier’s first edition of “The Federalist Papers” sold for $80,000 and edition of “Common Sense” sold at auction for $56,000. That’s over $1.2 million.
Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas was pleasantly surprised by the positive buyers’ response to their recent Rare Books and Historial Manuscripts auction that included a 1st edition of the Federalist Papers. When the piece hammered at $80,000 ($95,600 with Buyer’s Premium) the applause in the room wasn’t only for the greatness of the lot, but also for the recipient of the full hammer price: Captain Nathan Harlan, an Indiana National Guardsman preparing to ship out for his second tour of duty.
Prior to the auction the lot had been conservatively estimated to bring $8,000-12,000, but the price rose amidst a flurry of international publicity and multiple bidders. Before the auction Heritage offered to waive its previously agreed-upon, customary seller’s commission in a show of support for Captain Harlan and his upcoming deployment; he gratefully accepted the offer.
“I can’t thank you enough for all of your help,” Captain Harlan wrote to Heritage. “You not only made special arrangements for me to receive the money because I will be overseas when settlement day comes, but you also waived the seller’s fee. That’s unbelievable in this day and age.”
The winning bidder is from the Baltimore, MD area.
“We have been moved and amazed by the reach of this story,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage Auction Galleries.
Early American history showed sustained strength throughout the auction, especially in the form of an historic second edition of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which brought $56,760, and a 1663 document signed by Mayflower pilgrim John Alden, the man widely credited as the first to set foot on Plymouth Rock, which went to an erudite collector for $15,535.
Superb examples of first edition fiction tomes were in great demand during the Rare Books section of the auction with a trio of books whose publication dates span the better part of 135 years. Chief among these books was the most recent, and certainly the most famous to modern day audiences: A first English edition hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, just one of an estimated 500 from the original printing, brought $29,875, showing the continuing strength of the premiere run of this popular series.
A remarkable first edition first impression of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece Great Expectations, in the original cloth no less, brought $23,900 from a determined bidder, while a first edition first printing of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ American classic Tarzan of the Apes, in its original dust jacket – one of just 5,000 original copies printed – rose to the occasion with a price of $20,912.
Two more intriguing lots finish the Top 10 of the Heritage June 16 event: The original Fort Knox Bullion Depository blueprints and a singular archive of writings from mid-19th Century Supreme Court Justice John McLean, spanning four decades (the 1820s through the 1850s) of his notable life. Both lots respectively brought $6,572.
It just goes to show you, that even in a weak economy, unusual items still sell for a lot of money!