• Press release
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  • New York
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  • For immediate release
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  • 16 May 2019

RELEASE: Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana | 12 June 2019 | New York

(left to right) FRANKLIN, Benjamin (1706-1790), Autograph letter signed ("B. Franklin") to Henry Home, Lord Kames, London, 14 March 1775. Estimate:  $20,000 - $30,000.; EDGAR ALLEN POE (1809-1849) – French. An 18k gold key-wound quarter repeating open-face pocket watch., Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000.; CRICK, Francis H.C. (1916-2004) and WATSON, James D. (b.1928). Galley proof signed ("Francis Crick" and "James D. Watson") with two annotations. "Molecular structure of nucleic acids: A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid." Nature 171 (1953): 737-738. Estimate: $180,000 - $220,000.

New York – This June 12th, Christie’s Books & Manuscripts department will be presenting two live sales: The Birth of Modern Business: Luca Pacioli’s Summa de Arithmetica (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000), a stand-alone sale of the original how-to guide for business and a various owner sale of Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts Including Americana. The latter includes over 200 objects ranging from early printed books to 20th-century manuscripts. The public view will open in Christie’s Rockefeller galleries in New York from Friday June 7th to Tuesday June 11th.

Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts Including Americana | Live Auction | 12 June

A notable highlight of the June auction is a group of Letters from Benjamin Franklin to Henry Homes, Lord Kames. This important series of letters were written between 1760 and 1775 from Franklin, "the First American," to Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696-1782), a key figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. The correspondence chronicles Franklin's transformation from a champion of the British Empire to an advocate for American liberty and independence. Another highlight is a three-page letter from George Washington to Major General Daniel Morgan from 1794 that is a strongly worded expression of Washington's deepening concern over the spread of the so-called Whiskey Rebellion (estimate: $100,000-150,000). These are two of the many highlights of the Roger D. Judd Collection of Historical Letters, Documents, and Manuscripts. The collection features additionally important letters and documents by a diverse range of personalities including Ferdinand and Isabella, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Hernando Cortes, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, George Armstrong Custer, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.

The auction also features important scientific properties including the original, signed galley proofs of Francis Crick and James Watson’s articles on DNA: “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids” and “Genetical Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid” (estimate: $180,000-220,000), marking the first time their pioneering work on "the secret of life" ever appeared in print; this is the only known prepublication copy of Watson & Crick's momentous 1953 paper. Also of interest are a series fresh-to-market Albert Einstein correspondences including a series of letters written to Antonia Stern, the daughter of his close friend, historian Alfred Stern, including letters alluding to a romantic affair between the two in the early 1930s and correspondence between Einstein and Paul Epstein, a theoretical physicist at Caltech, with important letters expressing his discomfort with the implications of quantum theory: "In other words, God tirelessly plays dice under laws which he has himself prescribed." In a third collection of letters, written to a young physics student, Einstein takes further jabs at quantum theory, describing it as "concocted of incoherent elements of thought". To round off the scientific offerings, there is a unique hand-painted globe that portrays an early theory of life on the planet mars by made by the Danish female astronomer Emmy Ingeborg Brun (estimate: $30,000 - 50,000).


Literary highlights lead off with Edgar Allan Poe’s gold pocket watch (estimate: $80,000 - 120,000) bearing his engraved name within; Philip Roth’s IBM Selectric typewriter; important correspondences from J.D. Salinger and Margaret Mitchell and others. The sale also includes a superb selection of color-plate books covering subjects ranging from natural history to military uniforms.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s has sold 8 of the 10 most important single-owner collections in history, including the Paul G. Allen Collection—the most valuable collection ever offered at auction (November 2022). In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 2017), for a 20th century artwork (Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, 2022) and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019). 

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