New York—Christie’s is pleased to announce the Eric C. Caren Collection in a single-owner selection of over 100 lots beginning the Books & Manuscripts auction on June 15 in New York. Eric Caren is renowned for his focused collecting of “how history unfolds on paper”: broadsides, newspapers, eyewitness manuscript accounts, photography and graphics across the centuries. His first collection of rare newspapers formed the nucleus of The Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. Patriotic press highlights on offer at Christie’s range from the first freedom of the press trial in 1734 (John Peter Zenger), right through Thomas Paine’s immortal words, “these are the times that try men’s souls” and important events of the American Revolution, to the writing of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Perhaps the most iconic paper on offer is William Bradford’s legendary Halloween 1765 issue of the Pennsylvania Journal. With the loathed Stamp Act set to take effect the following day, Bradford set up his entire front-page as a tombstone and announced that he was suspending publication. Bradford’s ire is expressed in woodcuts of skulls and crossbones, shovels and pickaxes and on the back page there is an image of a coffin captioned: “The last Remains of the Pennsylvania Journal, Which departed this Life, the 31st of October, 1765 of a Stamp in her Vitals, Aged 23 Years.” More seriously, there is a long editorial on the theme that “Liberty of the Press has very justly been esteemed one of the main Pillars of the Liberty of the People.” Estimate: $30,000-50,000. About six months later, William Bradford also published the extremely rare first broadside American printing of the Repeal of the Stamp Act, being a Pennsylvania Journal extra dated May 19, 1766. Estimate: $25,000-35,000.
Other papers on the theme of patriotic journalism, include:
Zenger Trial. An issue of John Peter Zenger’s New-York Weekly Journal edited by him when he was in prison for libel, December 23, 1734. Zenger’s trial is considered the first test of freedom of the press in North America. (Estimate: $4000-6000)
Political Cartoon. One of the very earliest political cartoons, being an elaborate woodcut cruelly lampooning a Philadelphia loyalist, in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, September 19, 1772. (Estimate: $1500-2500)
Boston Tea Party. A very rare and important broadside describing the Boston Tea Party, likely the only extant copy in private hands. Published by the Pennsylvania Journal on Christmas Eve, 1773. (Estimate: $30,000-50,000)
American Crisis #1. “These are the times that try men’s souls….” A full, front-page printing of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis No. 1, possibly the single-most inspirational polemic of the American Revolution. In The Connecticut Gazette, January 17, 1777. (Estimate: $25,000-35,000)
End of the Revolutionary War. A uniquely large banner headline “LAUS DEO!” on the Surrender of Cornwallis. The Freeman’s Journal, October 24, 1781. (Estimate: $15,000-25,000)
Bill of Rights. The probable first printing of the final Bill of Rights, published in the leading Federalist newspaper of the day: The Gazette of the United States, October 3, 1789. (Estimate: $15,000-25,000)
Star-Spangled Banner. The first obtainable printing of any portion of what became our National Anthem. In the Baltimore Patriot, September 21, 1814. (Estimate: $8000-12,000)
Eric Caren (in bowtie) aged about 14, around the time he set up for his first tradeshow.
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