Held on March 12, the last mentioned auction ran to just 58 lots, ranging from Newton’s copy of mathematician and astronomer John Greaves’ Pyramidographia… of 1646 to a working example of an Apple-1 microcomputer motherboard.
The latter sold at $90,000 (£68,525) but the Greaves book and 35 other lots, several with substantial five-figure estimates, failed. Most notable was a signed, presentation copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass that Bonhams valued at $200,000-300,000 and hoped might successfully mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Bound in contemporary panelled calf, a 1759 first of Adam Smith’s first published work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, made a record $45,000 (£34,260) but another highly valued 18th century work left unsold was a Congressional resolution of February 1777 inviting Spain to join the war against Great Britain.
It was signed by the then president of the 2nd Continental Congress, a man whose large and flourished signature on the Declaration of Independence has become a synonym in the US for one’s signature: John Hancock.
A military commission signed by Hancock in appointing Benjamin Lincoln (no relation), a major general, was also left unsold on an estimate of $60,000-90,000 as part of the Eric Caren sale of March 6-14.
The biggest disappointment there, however, was a letter in which an obviously irritated Einstein replied to a young naval officer who had written to tell him about a conversation with a Jesuit priest who claimed to have convinced Einstein to believe in a “supreme intellect which governs the Universe”.
A much more famous Einstein ‘God Letter’, addressed to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, made $2.4m (£1.89m) at Christie’s New York just last December – see report in ATG No 1371.
An 1830, Palmyra first of Joseph Smith’s The Book of Mormon… made $60,000 (£45,800) in the Caren auction.