Top-shelf selections await at Quinn's Rare Books auction, October 26
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Top-shelf selections await at Quinn's Rare Books auction, October 26
La Fontaine, Choix de fables de la Fontaine illustrees par un groupe des meilleurs artistes de Tokio under the direction of P. Baboutau, 1894, 2 vol., first edition illustrated with 38 color prints. Remarkable fusion of tradition Japanese prints and French fables. Estimate $300-$500.

FALLS CHURCH, VA.- Early printings, historical publications, a Poe thriller and other collectible page-turners will cross the auction block at Quinn’s Rare Book, Autograph and Print Auction on Thursday, October 26. In addition to top-shelf entries from the 16th through 20th centuries, the 220-lot sale also includes illustrated books, Presidential autographs and signatures; and the stamped, bookplated 1909 White House copy of The Plan of Chicago.

The scientific and historical section reveals many exciting rarities, including several volumes on American exploration. A complete set of the Pacific Railroad survey, spanning the years 1853 to 1860, is estimated at $2,000-$3,000; while an early and complete (50-volume) run of the Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Reports is expected to make $1,200-$1,600.

A 4-volume collection of early French Revolutionary pamphlets and publications, Constitution Civile du Clerge, pertains to the plight of the French Catholic Church from 1791 to 1793 and the effects of the Civil Constitution on the clergy. Comprising 28 pamphlets and publications in total, the lot is estimated at $300-$500. Another significant French production is Jesuit missionary Joseph Francois Lafitau’s Moeurs des Sauvages Ameriquains (Paris: Chez Saugrain & Hochereau, 1724). A 2-volume first edition with comprehensive information on the Iroquois and other Native tribes of upper North America, it has 42 engraved plates, including a map of the Americas. Estimate: $1,500-$2,500

The first psychological sketch on childhood development, authored by Charles Darwin in 1877, appears in Volume 2, No. 7, pages 285-294 of Mind: A Quarterly Review of Psychology and Philosophy. The study is based on Darwin’s personal notes from observing the development of his first-born son, William Erasmus, from 1839-41. The pre-sale estimate is $2,000-$3,000.

Cryptanalysis, or the process of analyzing information systems in order to breach algorithms and decipher encrypted messages, is actually not a modern concept.
The auction offers a copy of the first major work on subject – Elements of Cryptanalysis – which was written by William F Friedman for use as a War Department training pamphlet. A first-edition octavo dated May 1923, it is entered with a $600-$900 estimate.

Based in northern Virginia, Quinn’s has had the honor of handling many politically important items over the past few decades. The October 26 sale includes yet another: a virtual time capsule of Ronald Reagan’s presidential highlights as documented through cassette tapes of his most famous speeches, addresses, and personal recollections. The set of six tapes is presented together with a signed octavo first edition of Reagan’s An American Life (Simon and Schuster, NY, 1990). The stately suite of written and spoken materials is No. 892 of 2,000 copies. In fine condition, it is estimated at $2,000-$3,000.

The aforementioned White House copy of the 1909 Plan of Chicago, prepared by Daniel H. Burnham under the direction of the Commercial Club, Chicago, is No. 757 of 1,650 copies. Its copyright page is stamped “By transfer The White House March 3rd, 1913, with a Library of Congress bookplate applied over the original Commercial Club bookplate. Containing numerous plans, plates and illustrations, some folding or in color, the book is offered with an $800-$1,200 estimate.

A beloved children’s classic to be auctioned is Antoine Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince (Reynal & Hitchcock, NY, 1943), an octavo first trade edition first printing with a five-line colophon at the rear. Retaining an unclipped first-issue dust jacket with the original $2 price, this English-language book translated from French and illustrated in color is expected to attract a winning bid in the $800-$1,200 range.

Having a darker tone, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum appears in The Gift: A Christmas and New Year Present (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart), a first-state octavo edition. An 1843 date is shown on both the title and copyright pages. Estimate: $800-$1,200

The auction also features many fine engravings (Winslow Homer, after Audubon, David Loggan, et al.), prints, folios, and ephemera and photographs signed by notable figures. Fritz Eichenberg’s (American, 1901-1990) Erasmus: In Praise of Folly (Aquarius Press, NY and Baltimore, 1972) is 1 of 10 copies and designated with the Roman numeral IV. It contains 10 woodblock prints by Eichenberg, each signed in pencil. Estimate: $600-$900

Quinn’s Thursday, October 26, 2023 auction will start at 12 noon ET.

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