Statesmen, Explorers, and Visionaries: A Look at Freeman's Books, Maps & Manuscripts Auction
Freeman's September 30 auction of Books, Maps & Manuscripts offers a rare view into the worlds of the statesmen, explorers, and visionaries that have shaped the policies and imaginations of Americans since the founding of our nation. From first editions of The Federalist, Twelve Years a Slave, and The Colossus, to the intimate letters of Teddy Roosevelt to his friend John Burroughs, and the captivating images of Robert Edwin Peary's final expedition to the North Pole, these books, letters and photographs tell our story.
This sale boasts a number of extraordinary first editions, foremost of which is The Federalist (later known as The Federalist Papers), a collection of essays written by founding fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. This series of writings (written under the pseudonym Publius) were published in various newspapers from October 1787 to April 1788, and lead to such public demand that the essays were bound together in book form.
This copy of The Federalist is just of the many works from the prestigious collection of former Pennsylvania Governor & First Lady William & Mary Scranton on offer in this sale, a group that includes several rare and beautifully executed illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. In the words of Books department head Benjamin Truesdale, the Scranton Collection "reflects that connoisseurship so characteristic of gentlemanly book-collecting in a bygone age."
Though not a true first edition, an uncorrected proof of Sylvia Plath's first collection, The Colossus, is also featured prominently in the sale. Included with this rare imprint is a letter from James Michie of William Heinmann Publishers in London, recommending Plath's work to Robert MacGregor of New Directions in New York. In a handwritten note, James Laughlin, famed writer and founder of New Directions passes on Plath's collection, writing "Not for us, I'd say." When The Colossus was finally published in 1960, critic Bernard Bergonzi was full of praise for the work, admiring Plath's "highly personal tone and way of looking at the world." This unique lot offers a glimpse into a world of what-ifs, where the course of Sylvia Plath's career might have changed dramatically.
Another first edition of note is Solomon Northup's 1853 memoir Twelve Years a Slave, his personal account of being a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery in the deep South. Though a best-seller when it first reached pre-Civil War readers, Twelve Years a Slave fell out of fashion, and went out of print for nearly a century before discovering new a new life and new audience in the late 1960s (later adapted into the 2013 Oscar-winning film of the same name).
With the National Parks Service celebrating its centennial this year, who better to highlight this anniversary than Theodore Roosevelt, the "Conservation President?" Twenty-nine letters written to his friend and leader of the American conservation movement, John Burroughs are being offered in September. Typewritten on White House letterhead and hand-signed, the letters offer an intimate view of the bombastic 26th president's life, and his passion for America's forests and wildlife. He writes often to his friend of his personal observations of wildlife - from his fondness for bird watching to encounters with foxes. The letters are a romance unto themselves, a love letter to the wild beauty of Yellowstone and Yosemite, and beyond. As he writes in March of 1903, "...I look forward to being with you when we see the elk, antelope, and mountain sheep at close quarters. Bring pretty warm clothing, but that is all. Everything else will be provided in the Park."
Rounding out the September 30 auction of Books, Maps & Manuscripts highlighting the extraordinary lives of the statesmen, explorers, and visionaries is a one-of-a-kind album of photographs documenting the final expedition to the North Pole of famed (and controversial) explorer Robert Edwin Peary. This remarkable photo album comes to auction from a descendant of expedition financier and member, the adventurer George Frederick Norton. Shot between 1908-1910, the collection includes 513 original silver gelatin photos detailing the expedition's activities from Newfoundland and Labrador to Greenland, north as far as Etah. Exceptional and rich images of Inuit life, local wildlife and expedition members comprise this truly unique collection of images that capture the spirit of adventure and exploration.