On November 19th, one of the most venerable collections of fine and rare manuscripts, books, broadsides and maps devoted to the City of Brotherly Love achieved more than $2.3 million at auction. Spirited bidding in a full room and a solid sold by lot rate of 77% belied the art market’s recent downturn and anticipates continued strong competition for exceptional books, manuscripts and works on paper.

William Birch’s The City of Philadelphia, the first American color plate book, realized one of the highest prices for the evening, selling for $96,000. This important work is a noted rarity and the best depiction of Philadelphia as the capital of the infant United States. Nicholas Scull’s map of Pennsylvania, considered the most ambitious American pre-revolutionary cartographical work also garnered $96,000.

Other highlights of Wednesday’s sale included $90,000 for Birch’s The Country Seats of the United States of North America, one of the earliest and rarest American color plate books and the first on American scenery. Joseph Jeanes’ Views of Old Philadelphia, an album of early photographs of Philadelphia spanning the second half of the 19th century realized $72,000. The famous Aitken bible, the first complete bible in English printed in America fetched an impressive $68,400 and a rare uncolored example of the revised second edition of Birch’s views commanded $66,000.

Jeremy Markowitz, Head of Americana praised the sale “On a day when the stock market dropped below 8,000 points, over $2.3 million dollars worth of books, manuscripts and works on paper traded hands. The sale had strong bidding by private collectors and institutions and record prices were achieved, especially for graphic arts.”

In a selective market, Jay T. Snider’s exceptional collection proved the continuing strength of the market and positioned Bloomsbury as a leader in the Americana field.

Bloomsbury Auctions is the world’s leading auction house for rare books and works on paper and is headquartered in London with salerooms in New York and Rome.

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