This Week's Top Lots

There were two very successful auctions at Swann Galleries this week, with record prices and several lots that had never been seen at auction.

Monday’s Early Printed, Medical & Scientific Books sale featured religious texts, classics, law books, works on anesthesia & medicine, as well as a selection of books of Iberian interest. The top lot, a book of music by Cristobal de Morales entitled Missarum liber primus, brought $33,600. It was the first time this book, a second edition of the first volume, printed in Lyon in 1546, had been offered at auction.
Cristobal de Morales' Missarum liber primus.
Another auction first was a Biblia sacra, a Latin bible printed in Salmanca, 1555. This first attempt to publish the Vatable Bible in Spain was suppressed by the Inquisition, and the book, which sold for $28,800, is one of only four known copies.
This 1555 Salmanca edition was placed on the first Spanish index of prohibited books in 1559.

There was a large offering of medical books in Monday’s sale as well, including works by Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, and Benjamin Franklin. Franklin’s Some Account of the Success of Inoculation for the Small-Pox in England and America, with contributions by William Heberden, set an auction record, bringing $15,600.
Franklin's statistical account of smallpox inoculation in Boston is a first edition.
Fine Photographs were sold on Tuesday. The auction started with a bang when the very first lot, a group of nine early albumen prints of China from 1860, set off a bidding war that resulted in a price of $57,600, a record.
One of the nine images of China from the record-setting portfolio.
The top lot for the photographs sale was Berenice Abbott’s intrepid Retrospective Portfolio, printed in 1982.  Consisting of 50 large-format silver prints taken from 1930 to 1960, the group of images brought $90,000, a record for this portfolio.
A selection from Abbott's portfolio, titled Fifth Avenue, Nos. 4, 6, 8.
Another top lot was Edward S. Curtis’s Canyon del Muerto, a stunning orotone dated 1906.
This piece was offered in the original Curtis frame with a caption label verso.

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