Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Author Archives: Devon Eastland

A Celebration of Text and Art

Arabic Manuscript on Paper with Persian Commentary (Lot 1108, Estimate $2,000-3,000)

Papermaking, calligraphy, illumination, paper marbling, and gold-tooled goatskin bindings define fine bookmaking and are generally associated with western and continental books. However, mastery of these book arts was transmitted to Europe through the Middle East during the Middle Ages. Although the Chinese pioneered papermaking and printing with movable type, in Medieval times, all roads from China to continental Europe passed through the Middle East and North Africa.… Read More

Andrew Wyeth’s Unpublished Love Letters Offered at Skinner in May

Wyeth, Andrew (1917-2009) Archive of Forty-three Signed Autograph Letters and Notes, with Sketches (Lot 1106, Estimate: $80,000-120,000)

Writings Provide New Insights To Secretive Painter’s Work and Life

An extensive archive of letters previously unknown to scholars and collectors concerning one of the most secretive and celebrated American artists of the 20th century will be offered in Skinner’s May Fine Books & Manuscripts online auction.… Read More

Hamilton in the House

Washington, Martha (1731-1802) Autograph Letter Signed, Philadelphia, 18 October 1794 (Lot 25, Estimate: $15,000-20,000)

My daughter is 15 years old, and she is an ardent fan of musical theater. At our house, any possible topic of conversation could (should and will) relate directly to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. Sometimes it’s really a bit of a stretch, but she always comes through with a lyric that fits, and favors us with song.… Read More

Rare Notes From George and Martha Washington Found in Battle, Resurface Again 150 Years Later

Washington, George (1732-1799) Autograph Receipt Signed, Philadelphia, June 1787. (Lot 76, Estimate $4,000-$6,000)

Martin L. Stone was mustered into service with the Pennsylvania Volunteers in October of 1861. He was ultimately captured by Confederate forces at the Second Battle of Deep Bottom in mid-August 1864, and in the intervening years he undoubtedly witnessed profound human suffering. His memories, like those of so many veterans, are lost forever.

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Audubon’s Quadruped Folio Highlights His Message of Conservation

Armadillo from Audubon, John James (1785-1851) and Reverend John Bachman (1790-1874) The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. (Lot 93, Estimate $200,000 – $300,000)

An independent Audubon Society has decided to de-accession one of the great masterpieces of 19th century natural history book illustration. The Society has a mission: to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.… Read More

Adopt-a-Book 2015 with the American Antiquarian Society

Roberts III, John (1724-1778) Manuscript Memorandum and Account Books. Offered in the upcoming spring book auction: May 27- June 7, 2015

Massachusetts is home to a wealth of institutional rare book libraries and special collections, private and public. Collecting groups, college and town libraries, historical societies, and museums contain an astonishing depth of irreplaceable monuments to our collective social and intellectual history.… Read More

Guide to Collecting John James Audubon Prints

Audubon, John James (1785-1851) Stanley Hawks, Plate 36. [from] Birds of America. London: R. Havell, 1826-1838 (Lot 361, Estimate $3,000-$5,000)

Five of the entries on the list of the top ten most expensive books ever sold are copies of The Birds of America by John James Audubon. A double elephant folio of the book sold for $10.3 million in 2010.  This book is a giant in both price and volume – the complete work measures 39.5 inches by 28.5 inches and contains 435 plates.… Read More

Making Books for Movies: A Book Appraiser’s Glimpse of Hollywood

The movie R.I.P.D. opens today, and I’ll be there in the theater hoping to catch a glimpse of a single prop: a book that I made. This isn’t just any book – it’s 3 x 2 feet and weighs over 100 pounds! I made the book two years ago, and now I’ll find out if the book made the cut in the final film.

Breaking Books

A rare book can lose a significant amount of value if it’s missing even a single page of text. If what’s lacking is a title page, illustration, or map, the price will drop like an anvil in a cartoon. The same goes for a set of books that happens to be missing one or two volumes. And yet every day in the Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts department we see plates, maps, title pages, and text leaves removed from valuable books.

From Astronomy to Optics: An Important History of Science Book Collection

Hevelius, Johannes (1611-1687) Prodromus Astronomiae. Danzig: Stollius, 1690. To be sold at auction on November 18, 2012, Lot 573, Estimate $80,000-$100,000

I got a phone call last August about a potential book collection. Nothing unusual there, my job allows me the privilege of responding to queries about book collections every day. The description of the collection was brief but promising: about 125 books on the history of science, from the sixteenth to nineteenth century.… Read More

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