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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams to auction rare film manuscripts by Faulkner and Traven

A few of the highlights of the Fine Books & Manuscripts Sale at Bonhams Los Angeles (to be simulcast in New York) include a unique collection of recently uncovered, rare film manuscripts from modern American literary figures. A mimeographed manuscript of William Faulkner’s “dialogued treatment” for Drums Along the Mohawk (est. $15,000-20,000), is new to the market, and scholars have long argued the extent of his work and involvement in filmmaking. From March until mid-June of 1937 Faulkner worked on this treatment, which includes a detailed list of characters with description, a sequence-by-sequence breakdown of location, and 238 pages of screenplay. After he turned this treatment in, Faulkner was taken off the project and Lamar Trotti and Sonia Levien took over (and earned final screen credit).

Another item of great interest is a typescript of B. Traven’s unpublished screenplay adaptation of his novel The Bridge in the Jungle (est. $15,000-20,000). Traven achieved literary notoriety following the publication of his novels The Death Ship (1926) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927), the latter made into the screen classic directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart in 1948. Despite his popularity, the true identity of Traven constituted one of the great literary mysteries of the 20th century. Invited by Huston to be on set for the filming of Treasure in Mexico, Traven declined but sent in his place a man named Hal Croves purporting to be Traven’s agent. Croves was so intimately familiar with the details of the work that Huston suspected he was Traven himself, and most scholars today agree that Croves and Traven were indeed one and the same person. The present lot also includes a rare signed letter by Croves relating to his screenplay adaptation of The Bridge in the Jungle.

A further highlight is a note signed by Abraham Lincoln summoning a meeting with the Secretary of State William Seward and his cabinet on the eve of his speech to Congress (est. $40,000-70,000). This meeting was believed to have led President Lincoln to propose his first specific Congressional resolution for recommending emancipation.

Rare signed photographs from the estate of famed collector Jerome Shochet feature greatly in the sale, including a portrait of Charles Darwin taken by Julia Margaret Cameron (est. $15,000-25,000). The photograph was taken during a family holiday in the Isle of Wight, UK, where Darwin met Cameron and warmly regarded her friendship. A George Custer signed photograph (est. $15,000-25,000), shows the Civil War figure in his Cavalry officer’s uniform taken by M.B. Brady in Washington.

The Fine Books & Manuscripts Sale will take place on October 16 at Bonhams Los Angeles and simulcast in New York and will offer a diverse range of fine press, rare signed photographs and a strong selection of maps of the world.

A fully illustrated catalog is available at