Freeman's auctions of rare books, manuscripts, prints and maps always offer names and nostalgia. The sale scheduled for Thursday brings a dose of naturalism, too.
The names are, of course, the autographs that constitute a large number of the documents in any book sale. Among those to be offered Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m. at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St., are two signed by Abraham Lincoln - or, in the case of one, just "A. Lincoln."
According to David Bloom, who cataloged the 660-lot sale with Joe Huenke, Lincoln used his full name when signing such documents as the military commission to be offered next week, which has a presale estimate of $3,000 to $5,000.
The dictated letter with the abbreviated signature shows Lincoln's "more human side," Bloom said: It's a note of thanks to a Mrs. Tatum for her gift of a book, and is expected to sell for $4,000 to $6,000.
Perhaps the most important autograph document is a letter signed and dated April 16, 1802, that was addressed to Robert Livingston, the U.S. minister to France at the time, from Napoleon's foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. According to Freeman's Olivia Snyder, the letter represented an early stage in negotiations that led directly to the Louisiana Purchase. It is expected to sell for $25,000 to $35,000.
Other signatures of note include Francis Hopkinson's ($1,500 to $2,500), John S. Copley's ($2,000 to $3,000), and two of Thomas Jefferson's ($1,000 to $1,500 and $2,000 to $3,000).
The nostalgia in Thursday's sale comes in the form of numerous first editions, including one of
, the Hermann Hesse classic that enjoyed cult popularity in the 1960s, "when we all read it," as Bloom noted. The first edition, in German, was published in 1927 in Berlin and is expected to sell for $250 to $400.
A signed and inscribed presentation copy of Hesse's
The Glass Bead Game
) - sometimes available under the title
- was printed in 1943 in Zurich and is expected to bring $2,000 to $3,000.
A first American edition of Mark Twain's
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
, printed in 1885 in New York with a rare sheepskin binding, is expected to sell for $1,500 to $2,500.
Other first editions of note include William Styron's first work,
Lie Down in Darkness
, published in 1951 and signed and inscribed by the author ($500 to $800), and a first English translation of Thomas Mann's
The Magic Mountain
, also signed by the author, and Tennessee Williams'
A Streetcar Named Desire
($1,000 to $1,500 each). Bloom said the
edition is hard to come by because it has a dust jacket.
Also to be offered is a French edition of "The Constitution of the 13 United States of America," published in 1783 in Paris with 50 footnotes by Benjamin Franklin and bearing on its cover the first depiction of the Great Seal of the United States. It is expected to sell for $5,000 to $8,000.
Of historic significance is a collection of 40 lots of books devoted to the game of tennis - not only the modern game of lawn tennis, but also its medieval ancestor, court tennis, still played on seven courts in the United States (including the Racquet Club of Philadelphia), according to Freeman's.
Among the most important of those books, from the library of a local and socially prominent adherent of the game, is the first known book printed on the subject of tennis, Antonio Scaino's
Trattato del giuoco della palla
, published in 1555 in Venice and expected to bring $10,000 to $15,000 at least.
The sale's most unusual publication may be the one devoted to a branch of naturalism: a 13-volume set by Romeyn B. Hough printed between 1893 and 1913 in Lowville, N.Y., and titled
The American Woods, Exhibited by Actual Specimens
. It contains 987 wood samples mounted on 329 cards, such as the one illustrated in the catalog that bears transverse and radial sections of a species of chestnut. It is expected to sell for $5,000 to $8,000.
Previews are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. For more information, call 215-563-9275 or go to