The History of the United States: Books Charting The American Experience To Be Auctioned Without Reserve At Bonhams In New York

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • November 11, 2010

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Lot No: 232 CATLIN, GEORGE. 1796-1872. Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting Scenes and Amusements of the Rocky Mountains and Praries of America. London: Geo. Catlin, 1844. Estimate: $100,000 - 150,000


Bonhams announces "The American Experience: 1630-1890," an auction of printed and manuscript Americana to be held on December 2, 2010 in New York.  Simulcast to San Francisco, the 300-lot no reserve auction is a multi-million dollar sale with individual estimates ranging from the low hundreds to six figures.

It comprises the collection of well-known San Francisco-based bibliophile Bruce E. McKinney, a collector who has made it his mission to demystify the rarefied world of antiquarian books.  McKinney, the founder of a website devoted exclusively to book collecting, has included acquisition information (where he bought each book and for how much) and insisted upon a no reserve auction - an exciting prospect for collectors across the globe.

The story of the American Experience is told through McKinney's selection of extremely rare books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and early maps and prints that chronicle the country's colonization and move westward over a period of nearly 300 years.  It is the story of the pioneers, explorers, and everyday individuals who built the United States from an outlier colony to the powerful country it is today.

One of the more spectacular highlights included in this sale is a book featuring some of the most beautiful maps and views ever made of the Mississippi and Ohio River Basins (est. $80,000-120,000).  Titled Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale, the work by Victor Collot features two text volumes and an atlas containing 32 finely engraved plates by Tardieu.  Victor Collot served under Rochambeau in the American Revolutionary War. In the late 1790s he was commissioned by the French government to explore the western interior, then under Spanish control. The notes and drawings from his expedition down the Ohio and the Mississippi are phenomenally detailed and remain some of the most evocative depictions of the Midwestern wilderness ever produced. However, due to the Louisiana Purchase, Collot's work was not released when it was printed and thus it is exceedingly rare on the market.

Additional sale highlights include:

New World/Colonial

·       The first detailed map of Massachusetts; in William Wood's New Englands Prospect from 1635 (est. $30,000-50,000)

·       First edition of John Smith's rare and final work, Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New-England, 1631 (est. $50,000-80,000)

·       Very rare printed diary of an Englishman living in lower Manhattan in the 1670s: Charles Wolley's Two Years Journal in New-York (est. $25,000-35,000)

·       Rare work on New Jersey printed by Benjamin Franklin and featuring the first American map of the middle Colonies, printed in New York in 1747 (est. $25,000-35,000)

Revolutionary War

·       Group of 5 rare pre-Revolutionary pamphlets authored by Samuel Adams and others, originally owned by the reviled Boston Commissioner of Customs (est. $15,000-25,000)

·       Privately printed first-hand account from an officer in the American Revolution, John Simcoe's Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers (est. $50,000-70,000)

·       Superbly beautiful copy of the Treaty of Paris in which the United States is first acknowledged by the British to be a sovereign nation (est. $40,000-60,000)

Western Exploration

·       Thomas Hutchins' beautiful, large map of the Midwest, compiled from surveys he made during the French & Indian Wars and published in 1776 (est. $30,000-50,000)

·       First edition of Lewis & Clark's history of their expedition, with a fresh and beautiful map (est. $70,000-90,000) and several other rarities relating to Lewis & Clark such as the apocryphal and unofficial accounts of the journey, the first roster of the expedition, a document signed by Clark awarding a Peace Medal, etc.

·       An account of Zebulon Pike's expedition to the source of the Mississippi, and Arkansas and Kansas, the first government expedition to explore the Southwest (est. $15,000-25,000)

·       Handsome copies of George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio, 1844, with 25 hand-colored plates (est. $100,000-150,000) and McKenney and Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America (est. $60,000-80,000) the two most famous color-plate books on American Indians


·       The first book devoted wholly to Texas, Friar Juan Antonio de la Pena's Derrotero de La Expedicion en la Provincia de los Texas, 1722 (est. $30,000-50,000) with the first published view of San Antonio

·       Three different rare editions each recounting La Salle's fateful last expedition of 1686 in which he was trying to reach the mouth of the Mississippi but was blown of course to Texas (est. $8000-12,000 each)

·       A small series of very rare pamphlets relating to settlers en route to Texas who were taken captive by Indians in the early 19th century (estimates vary)


·       First English edition of Jonathan Dickenson's tale of woe, a captivity narrative from the 17th century in which he is marched 300 miles up the Atlantic coast of Florida (est. $8000-12000)

·       The superb Florida rarity Bartram's A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida of 1775 (est. $50,000-70,000)

·       Several a rare first edition accounts of the Seminole Wars, including the most desirable one, James Barr's Narrative...with a Description of Major Dade's Massacre (est. $12,000-18,000)

California & Oregon

·       The first book to describe an overland journey to California: The Personal Narrative of James O. Pattie of Kentucky, published in 1831 (est. $30,000-50,000)

·       First edition Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard, the principal source of information on the Walker party who were the first group to see Yosemite Valley  (est. $30,000-50,000)

·       A substantial and important collection of Gold Rush-era California letter sheets (est. $10,000-20,000) among many other Gold Rush items

·       Charles Gifford's panoramic tinted lithograph of San Francisco, from Russian Hill, printed in San Francisco in 1862 (est. $20,000-30,000)

San Francisco Preview: November 13-16, 2010

New York Preview: November 28 - December 2, 2010

Auction: December 2, 2010, Bonhams New York

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