Caren Archive Treasures Auction For $1.3 Million At Bonhams New York

Bonhams extraordinary sale of historical paper, titled Treasures from the Caren Archive: How History Unfolds on Paper, realized $1,370,000 on April 7. The 300 lots on offer were selections from The Caren Archive, the property of Eric Caren. They included rare newspapers, broadsides, photographs, books and manuscripts dating from the 16th century through the 1960s. Nearly 200 bidders from a dozen countries participated.

“It is gratifying to see the tremendous emotional power that these documents hold being appreciated in the marketplace,” said Christina Geiger, Director of the Books and Manuscripts Department at Bonhams New York. “This result is a testament to Eric Caren’s astonishing ability to hunt down rare and unusual material that excites collectors around the globe.”

Americana proved to be the most desirable collecting category, generating tremendous pre-sale interest. Leading the sale was the first (tied) Boston newspaper printing of the Declaration of Independence from The New-England Chronicle. Printed on July 18, 1776, the rare sheet soared past an estimate of $50,000-70,000 to realize $257,000.

One of the 18th century’s most powerful pieces of anti-British propaganda achieved $118,750, past an estimate of $25,000-35,000. Printed in 1775, “Bloody Butchery by the British Troops” listed the casualties from the battles of Lexington and Concord. The highly prized broadside has a striking design featuring 40 woodcut coffins.

Probably the most iconic image of the American Revolution is Paul Revere’s colored broadside issued after the Boston Massacre: “The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King-Street Boston on March 5th, 1770.” It was also quite successful in the sale, bringing $100,000 against an estimate of $25,000-35,000.

A trove of 16th century engraved news-sheets (Geschichtsblättern) focused on the European Wars of Religion and on the Anglo-Spanish War also proved popular, bringing $68,750 ahead of an estimate of $15,000-25,000. The compilation album of 290 copper-engraved views depicted news subjects from 1559 to 1602, by Frans Hogenberg and others. Of further note was a very rare 1676 first edition of A Brief History of the Warr With the Indians in New-England by Increase Mather. This book was a very early secular volume to be printed in America, by the very first printer in Boston, John Foster.