Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction Features Letters by Important Literary and Historical Figures

Kerouac, Jack (1922-1969) Typed Letter, with Manuscript Additions (Lot 44, Estimate $3,000-$5,000)

Kerouac, Jack (1922-1969) Typed Letter, with Manuscript Additions (Lot 44, Estimate $3,000-$5,000)

BOSTON, MA – October 28, 2014Skinner, Inc. will present a Fine Books & Manuscripts auction as part of Boston’s traditional fall rare book events. The 38th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Hynes Convention Center runs during the weekend of November 14-16, and the Skinner auction of 490 lots of historical and literary documents, fine and rare books, prints, and maps commences on Sunday, November 16th, at 10 a.m.

Literary Letters, Photographs & Historical Documents

Skinner has the privilege to offer a group of newly discovered letters written by a teen-aged Jack Kerouac to a boyhood friend in Lowell, Massachusetts (lots 44 through 50, estimates vary). Entertaining, revealing, and personal, these letters show Kerouac beginning to define himself as an artist. In addition to the remarkable style and content of these engaging documents, Kerouac’s youthful hopes and doubts are palpable on the typewritten pages. Seen within the context of his future success, they create a compelling narrative.

The signed letters of other literary figures will also be offered, including Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, Margaret Mitchell, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, and two notable personal letters written by Harper Lee to a close friend, just after the success of To Kill a Mockingbird (lot 52, estimate $3,000 to $3,500).

Washington, George (1732-1799) Printed Document on Parchment Signed, 1797. (Lot 103, Estimate $6,000-$8,000)

Washington, George (1732-1799) Printed Document on Parchment Signed, 1797. (Lot 103, Estimate $6,000-$8,000)

The auction also includes several lots of photographs of Malcolm X taken by his personal photographer, Robert Haggins, including annotated contact sheets, film, and slides (lots 63-76, estimates vary).

The American presidents are well represented, with documents signed by George Washington (lots 102 and 103, estimates vary), James Madison, James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and an unsigned legal brief in Abraham Lincoln’s hand.

Important composers and musical performers are also featured in the auction. A signed handwritten presentation copy of music in the hand of Franz Liszt (lot 59, estimate $15,000 to $20,000) leads the selection, which also includes signed notes, letters, and photographs of a varied group of familiar names, including Edvard Grieg, Erik Satie, Sergei Rachmaninoff,  Gioacchino Rossini, Johannes Brahms, Hector Berlioz, Aaron Copland, Richard Wagner, and others.

Rare Books & First Editions

The books section will feature dozens of finely bound and well-preserved gold-tooled Portuguese bindings from the 18th and 19th century; many lots of fine and decorative sets; illustrated books; first editions; and other rarities.

Dickens, Charles (1812-1870) The Christmas Books, Including a Signed Copy of A Christmas Carol (Lot 203, Estimate $20,000-$30,000)

Dickens, Charles (1812-1870) The Christmas Books, Including a Signed Copy of A Christmas Carol (Lot 203, Estimate $20,000-$30,000)

The works of Charles Dickens will be on the block in eleven lots that include a signed copy of A Christmas Carol (lot 203, estimate $20,000 to $30,000); complete sets of Dickens’s works; first editions in book form; and first editions of Little Dorrit, Nicholas Nickleby, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood in parts.

Titles in L. Frank Baum’s enduring Wizard of Oz series will be offered in ten lots, including some first editions in the original dust jackets (lots 419 through 428, estimates vary).

The fine collection of Charles S. Dixwell, a libertine and Bostonian who was an active collector of underground erotic material in Paris in the early years of the 20th century will make a notable contribution to the auction, featuring rare English controversial tracts, extra-illustrated books in fine bindings, erotica in fine bindings, erotic Victorian-era photographs, and hand-colored erotic prints.

Fine Prints & Maps

Last fall, a collection of railroad photographs taken by Andrew Russell brought $174,000 at Skinner’s fall auction. This year, Russell makes another appearance with his iconic “Golden Spike” image taken in Utah in 1869, when the eastbound tracks met the westbound tracks, uniting the continental U.S. with a continuous rail line (lot 470, estimate $15,000 to $17,000).

Early maps, fine prints, and limited edition artist’s books also make up an important portion of the auction. Audubon engravings from Birds of America include the loon and ruffed grouse.

Previews, Catalog, and Bidding

Previews for the auction will be held on Friday, November 14, from noon to 7 PM, Saturday, November 15, from noon to 5 PM., and Sunday, November 16, from 9 AM to 9:30 AM. Illustrated Catalog #2764B is available from the Subscription Department, at 508-970-3240, or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online at, both during and after the sale. The Skinner website enables users to view every lot in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs and bid live, in real-time, through SkinnerLive!

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in Coral Gables, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.



Devon Gray
Director of Books & Manuscripts

One thought on “Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts Auction Features Letters by Important Literary and Historical Figures

  1. Hi,I wanted to ask if there was any significance to valueing books when there is the “Entered in to Congress…etc.) page,with no date published.I have a set of Irving’s Works that I have not been able to find ANYWHERE that is like this in every book in the set.I hope I articulated that well enough for you to understand my question.Thanks so much.

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