Auctions: Freeman's sale is one for the books

While the works of famed, still-active painters are common enough attractions at major auctions, the works of famed, still-active authors are less so. Or so one would think, given that many enjoy ample print runs that also serve to keep their resale prices down.

But among the more than 500 lots in Freeman's sale Thursday of fine books, manuscripts and posters are several involving contemporary authors still publishing. To be offered, for example, are five works by Thomas Pynchon, including a first edition of V, the 1963 cult novel that made the reclusive writer famous, as well as an uncorrected proof copy of it and an advance-reading copy.

The first edition is expected to sell for $600 to $1,000, according to presale estimates in the auction catalog, prepared by David Bloom and Joe Huenke; the proof is expected to bring $800 to $1,200 and the advance copy $200 to $300.

A copy of Gravity's Rainbow, published 10 years later and to some readers constituting the second part of a trilogy, is expected to sell for $1,000 to $1,500. (The argument may be made that Pynchon, now 70, completed the trilogy in 2006 with the publication of Against the Day.)

Also represented in the sale is John Updike; a complete set of his "Rabbit" books is expected to go for $250 to $400.

To be sure, the auction's top prices are expected for the works of deceased authors. A first American edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring has a presale estimate of $1,200 to $2,000.

A first-edition/first-issue copy of Dickens' A Christmas Carol is expected to sell for $8,000 to $12,000. A first-edition later issue should bring $4,000 to $6,000.

Between $10,000 and $15,000 is expected for a complete nine-volume set of Henry Eeles Dresser's A History of the Birds of Europe, printed between 1871 and 1896 and containing 700 hand-colored plates. Another set of illustrated bird books, Alexander Wilson's seven-volume American Ornithology, printed in New York and Philadelphia between 1828 and 1829, could sell for $5,000 to $8,000.

Among posters to be offered are color lithographs by Albert Bergevin, Leonetto Cappiello and Alphonse Mucha dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries and expected to sell for $2,500 to $4,000 each. A color lithograph by George Ham promoting the 1935 Grand Prix of Monaco carries a $5,000-$8,000 estimate.

An engraved copy of the Declaration of Independence printed sometime between 1823 and 1848 in Washington by W.I. Stone is expected to sell for $10,000 to $15,000.

The sale is to begin at 10 a.m. at the gallery, 1808 Chestnut St. Previews are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. For more information, call 215-563-9275; view the catalog at www.freemansauction.com.

Cars at Slosberg's. More than 70 vintage automobiles, including two classic Impalas, will be offered by Barry S. Slosberg Inc. beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow at its gallery in Port Richmond. The sale also will feature hundreds of car parts including engines, transmissions, heads, manifolds, carburetors and trim.

They were consigned by Joe Robinson, an engine builder and collector in the city. The sale, which is expected to draw more than 500 bidders in person, also is going on eBay.

"We put it online last Friday and by Tuesday we already had 13,000 hits," said Brian Lyons, who organized the sale.

The top items are a 1961 Chevrolet bubbletop Impala with a 409-inch engine and four barrel carburetors that should sell for $40,000 and a 1964 409 Impala with manual transmission that also should sell for $30,000 to $40,000, Lyons said.

Eighteen engines also will be offered, including several totally rebuilt 409s, so-called because the compression space of the engine's eight cylinders was 409 inches. The engines were built only between 1961 and 1964 and are very sought after, Lyons said. "Anyone owning a classic Impala goes right after these."

In addition to Robinson's collection, the auction features a 1941 Cadillac fastback sedan, a 1946 Lincoln Continental, a 1941 Oldsmobile coupe, and a 1931 Auburn street rod.

Preview is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to sale time tomorrow at the Slosberg gallery, 2501 E. Ontario St. Information: 215-425-7030 or www.bssauction.com.


Contact David Iams at daiams@comcast.net.

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