Auctions: Edison notebook, 1775 map in Freeman's sale

A bed made of huanghuali wood is expected to bring $40,000 to $60,000 in Freeman's Asian Arts sale Sunday. A mural of an Indonesian village done by a Chinese Indonesian artist has an even higher estimate in that sale - $60,000 to $100,000.
A bed made of huanghuali wood is expected to bring $40,000 to $60,000 in Freeman's Asian Arts sale Sunday. A mural of an Indonesian village done by a Chinese Indonesian artist has an even higher estimate in that sale - $60,000 to $100,000.
Posted: September 08, 2012

Freeman's will start its fall season this month with three big catalog sales within a few days of each other: Asian arts Sunday, photographs and albums on Sept. 19, and books, maps, manuscripts and prints, plus coins and medals, on Sept. 20. Each event has at least three lots that could bring five-figure prices.

One of the three in the 650-lot Sept. 20 book sale, beginning at 10 a.m. at the gallery at 1808 Chestnut St., is a 117-page autograph laboratory notebook of Thomas Edison. It includes his drawings of alternate organic sources for the production of rubber done at the request of Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone and has a presale price estimate of $15,000 to $25,000, according to the $25 auction catalog (also accessible at

Another is a 1775 engraved map with hand-colored outline of the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to South Jersey that has a presale price estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. Other pictorial prints include a hand-colored Currier and Ives lithograph of a horse-drawn sleigh ride and a quarto-sized volume printed in Paris in 1779 on the butterflies of Europe (each $7,000 to $10,000).

The third is an autograph document by George Taylor, a Pennsylvania signer of the Declaration of Independence, that has a presale estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It is one of 54 autographs of signers from the estate of Joyce A. Eavers of Virginia.

The sale features several other significant groupings: 13 lots pertaining to Charles Dickens; another 11 lots pertaining to Sherlock Holmes, including an autograph manuscript signed by Arthur Conan Doyle ($5,000 to $8,000); 27 lots by and about Mark Twain and Rudyard Kipling; and 58 lots of illustrated books featuring works by N.C. and Andrew Wyeth. Among them are an Andrew Wyeth watercolor Christmas card ($2,000 to $3,000) and an illustrated 1992 Andrew Wyeth letter to a cousin recalling childhood days playing Robin Hood in Chadds Ford ($2,500 to $3,500).

The sale also includes 26 lots of children's books, notably a first authorized English edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with the Tenniel illustrations ($5,000 to $8,000) and a frst edition of L. Frank Baum's first book, A New Wonderland ($2,500 to $3,500).

Previews: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 19.

Five-figure photos. Among the 132 lots of images and two dozen photo books and albums in the Sept. 19 photography sale, also starting at 10 a.m., are a single lot of 25 images of Amish scenes by George Tice with a presale price estimate of $15,000 to $25,000; a Robert Mapplethorpe photo portrait of a nude torso titled Lydia Cheng stamped, signed, and dated (1985) by the artist (whose show at the Institute of Contemporary Art 25 years ago created a sensation) that is expected to bring $20,000 to $30,000; and an untitled portrait of a young woman by Cindy Sherman, one of three Shermans in the show, that should bring $25,000 to $35,000.

Portraits are probably the sale's catchiest images, beginning with two dozen lots dating to the 19th century. Another half-dozen portraits by Edward Sheriff Curtis depict American Indians, including an Arapaho on horseback ($300 to $500) and Princess Angeline, her wizened face wrapped in a scarf ($400 to $600).

There is a fascinating 1928 portrait by Berenice Abbott of New Yorker correspondent Janet Flanner in Paris ($1,000 to $1,500) and three gelatin silver prints by Alfred Eisenstaedt that capture scenes of the World War II era: a seated Joseph Goebbels, the first meeting of Hitler and Mussolini, and a haunting The Eyes of Dr. Edward Teller (each $1,500 to $2,500).

Photo books include a single lot of eight books on subjects such as gasoline stations and "every building on Sunset Strip" by Ed Ruscha ($2,000 to $3,000) and a single lot of two albums with 188 albumen prints of European travel scenes ($6,000 to $8,000).

Previews: noon to 5 p.m. Sept. 15, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and 18.

Asian treasures. Five-figure prices are expected for at least 43 of the more than 850 lots in Sunday's Asian Arts sale, which begins at 10 a.m., and one, a rare imperial table from the Qianlong period made from the hardwood zitan, has a presale estimate of $100,000 to $200,000.

Another lot that might make the six-figure level is a mural of a compoon, or Indonesian village, done by the Chinese Indonesian Lee Man Fong that has a presale estimate of $60,000 to $100,000. It has a story.

According to its catalog notes from the consigner, a Pennsylvania woman who befriended Lee Man Fong while living in Indonesia in the 1950s, the artist lived in just such a compoon outside Djakarta. He had been commissioned to paint a mural for the new Hotel Indonesia, the country's first tourist hotel, by President Sukarno but Sukarno thought the artist's first version too dark, and a dejected Lee Man Fong had to do another. When the consigner heard his story, she bought the first version on the spot.

Ancient Chinese bronzes are another sale highlight. They include three mirrors and a storage jar ($10,000 to $15,000) from the Han dynasty; a gu, or wine vessel ($40,000 to $60,000), a jue, or ritual tripod vessel ($30,000 to $50,000), and a tripod censer ($40,000 to $60,000), all three from the Shang dynasty; and a zun wine vessel from the western Chou dynasty ($40,000 to $60,000).

Along with the zitan table, the 50 lots of furniture at the sale's start include a lattice-rimmed huanghuali wood bed ($40,000 to $60,000), a pair of huanghuali wood yoke-back armchairs ($60,000 to $80,000), and a Qing dynasty silk and metal thread "dragon" rug ($30,000 to $60,000).

The sale also features about 100 snuff bottles and concludes with 70 lots, mostly porcelains, from the collection of the prominent interior designer Frank J. Schwind that are being offered without reserve, although a large glazed porcelain vase from the Qianlong period has a presale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

Previews: 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. For further information call 215-563-9275.

Contact David Iams at

comments powered by Disqus