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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Heritage Rare Books and Historical Manuscripts Auction Results

American history, past and present, converged at a combined Rare Books and Historical Manuscripts auction in Dallas on Tuesday, June 16, when Americans from all corners of the nation logged on to watch the auctioning off of a rare first edition of The Federalist Papers, America’s most important political philosophy treatise. When the piece hammered at $80,000 ($95,600 with Buyer’s Premium) the applause in the room wasn’t only for the greatness of the lot, but also for the recipient of the full hammer price: Captain Nathan Harlan, an Indiana National Guardsman preparing to ship out for his second tour of duty.

Prior to the auction the lot had been conservatively estimated to bring $8,000-12,000, but the price rose amidst a flurry of international publicity and multiple bidders. Before the auction Heritage offered to waive its previously agreed-upon, customary seller’s commission in a show of support for Captain Harlan and his upcoming deployment; he gratefully accepted the offer.

“I can’t thank you enough for all of your help,” Captain Harlan wrote to Heritage. “You not only made special arrangements for me to receive the money because I will be overseas when settlement day comes, but you also waived the seller’s fee. That’s unbelievable in this day and age.” The winning bidder is from the Baltimore, MD area.

“We have been moved and amazed by the reach of this story,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage Auction Galleries. “Our hope was to get a little extra for a soldier defending his country and the nation responded with an outpouring of good will like we’ve never experienced. We received hundreds of emails and phone calls. The individual lot page on has already been viewed more than 25,000 times. We are thrilled to have been of help to an American soldier and we wish him good luck and safe passage as he ships out to Iraq.”

Early American history showed sustained strength throughout the auction, especially in the form of an historic second edition of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which brought $56,760, and a 1663 document signed by Mayflower pilgrim John Alden, the man widely credited as the first to set foot on Plymouth Rock, which went to an erudite collector for $15,535.

Superb examples of first edition fiction tomes were in great demand during the Rare Books section of the auction with a trio of books whose publication dates span the better part of 135 years. Chief among these books was the most recent, and certainly the most famous to modern day audiences: A first English edition hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, just one of an estimated 500 from the original printing, brought $29,875, showing the continuing strength of the premiere run of this popular series.

A remarkable first edition first impression of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece Great Expectations, in the original cloth no less, brought $23,900 from a determined bidder, while a first edition first printing of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ American classic Tarzan of the Apes, in its original dust jacket – one of just 5,000 original copies printed – rose to the occasion with a price of $20,912.

Two more intriguing lots finish the Top 10 of the Heritage June 16 event: The original Fort Knox Bullion Depository blueprints and a singular archive of writings from mid-19th Century Supreme Court Justice John McLean, spanning four decades (the 1820s through the 1850s) of his notable life. Both lots respectively brought $6,572.

The 46 unique pages of the Fort Knox blueprints aren’t likely to get any would-be vault breakers very far given upgrades since its inception in the 1930s, the scope and intricacy of the plans do reveal why the name Fort Knox became synonymous with the very heights of modern security.

For more information on the Rare Books auction, to read detailed lot descriptions for these, and all other lots, and to download fully-enlargeable color images, go online to

For more information on the Historical Manuscripts auction, to read a detailed description of this, or any other, lot, and to download full-color, enlargeable images, go online to