Swann

Swann Auction Galleries in New York are an auction house that have been trading in rare and antiquarian books and works on paper since 1941.

The family-run business moved to new and larger premises in 1999, and now holds over 40 sales every year.


Everyone on Everest, the Danes in West Africa and the Russians in Jerusalem

26 March 2003

Signed by Hillary and other members of the 1953 Everest expedition (though not by Tensing, whose right to be known as the true conqueror of the mountain is still being fervently pressed by his compatriots), a deluxe copy of Alfred Gregory’s The Picture of Everest, illustrated with 42 full-colour reproductions of photographs and here specially bound in vellum, sold at $1200 (£750) in a special Himalayas section of a February 13 travel sale held by Swanns.

Mapping & Moon Gazing

28 February 2003

A Ptolemaic world map from the Nuremburg Chronicle was sold for £12,000 (£7500) as part of a December 12 sale of maps and prints held by Swann, while bid to $6000 (£3750) was the Map to illustrate Prince Maximilien of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America reproduced right.

An unabashedly Copernican treatise

28 November 2002

A PRE-VESALIAN anatomy and a pioneering German surgical treatise are featured in the caption story below, while among the other scientific texts in an October 2 sale of early printed books held by Swanns were two important works by Kepler.

No flight of fancy

07 November 2002

In May 1919 New Yorker Raymond Orteig offered a $25,000 prize for the first non-stop aeroplane flight from New York to Paris. In the ensuing eight years dozens of people managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air, but no one met Orteig’s criteria until eight years later when on May 20-21, 1927 Charles A. Lindbergh made the longest non-stop, heavier-than-air transatlantic flight in his plane, the Spirit of St Louis.

Cameras at Work…

04 September 2002

USA: The 200-lot literature section of a photograph sale held by Swanns on June 6 included a good run of the famous American publication, Camera Work, comprising Nos. 1 and 3-10 of the years 1903-05, plus the Steichen supplement of 1906.

Fly LNER to London – Alexeieff’s moonlit sleeper at $46,000

26 July 2002

USA: A stage designer for the Ballets Russes, advertising artist, painter and book illustrator, Alexander Alexeieff, is probably best known for his animated cartoons, but in two posters that he designed for LNER he produced surreal images that were unlike anything previously seen on a train poster.

Impressions of Rural America

26 July 2002

USA: The works of two American impressionists, Fern Isabel Coppedge (1888-1951) and Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927), both of whom were plein air painters whose works were admired for their fresh and colourful imagery, are featured here, together with a sample of the folksier treatment of rural America by Paul Seifert, a German fruit and vegetable farmer who took to painting as a lucrative sideline.

Court martial that led on to treason

16 January 2002

ONE of only 50 copies of Proceedings of a General Court Martial.... for the Trial of Major General Arnold that came up for sale in a Swanns Americana sale of November 29 was ex-library, bound in later half morocco with assorted stamps and various defects, but this Philadelphia imprint of 1780 is an extremely rare and historically significant item and attracted a lot of interest.

Consulted by Copernicus

22 November 2001

USA: THREE LOTS representing the principal science, medicine and natural history sections of a Swann sale of October 18 are described below, and illustrated right is one a of small group of patents that featured in the New York sale.

Swann to hold first Contemporary Art sale

07 November 2001

USA: Swann Galleries will hold their inaugural auction of Contemporary Art on the evening of Tuesday, November 13 at their 104 East 25th Street New York premises. The sale comprises about 170 examples of photo-based artworks, paintings, prints and drawings as well as mixed media pieces and multiples by late 20th century artists.

More Zainer Incunabula

29 May 2001

USA: INCUNABULA offered as part of the April 26 sale of Early Printed Books at Swanns were not in the Friedlaender class, but the top lots did include two books from the press of Gunther Zainer, Augsburg’s first printer.

Frans Masereel and the woodcut novel

12 April 1999

US: ONE of 167 illustrations which make up Frans Masereel’s My Book of Hours, one of the woodcut novels pioneered by the Belgian political cartoonist in the early part of this century.

“An old and wise and well-balanced people”

30 March 1999

- Raymond Chandler on the English US: IN MY LAST American round-up, I reported on the sale at Swanns of an early printing of the Treaty of Paris that had been owned by the Reverend Samuel Cooper of Boston, a now largely forgotten but once key political and spiritual figure in the War of Independence.

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