Swann Auction Galleries

104 East 25th Street, New York, New York 10010

About Auction House

Swann was founded in 1941 as an auction house specializing in Rare and Antiquarian Books and is now the largest specialist auctioneer of Works on Paper in the world. Swann conducts approximately 40 sales a year, with departments devoted to Books, Autographs, Maps & Atlases, Photographs & Photobooks, Prints & Drawings, Vintage Posters, African-American Fine Art and Illustration Art. On March 27, 2017, Swann celebrated 75 years of auctions.

Auction Previews & News

143 Results
  • Auction Preview
    First Edition of Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible Lead Swann’s Focus On Women Sale

    Focus On Women is an upcoming sale from Swann Auction Galleries. Among the highlights is Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, a book by Sojourner Truth printed for the author in 1850 by J. B. Yerriton and Son. Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth escaped captivity with her infant daughter to become an American abolitionist and a women’s rights activist. She was the first Black woman to win a case against a white man in 1828 after going to court to recover her son. The available book by Truth is a first edition, edited by Olive Gilbert with the author's portrait frontispiece, bound in the publisher's original green cloth.  “We much read the Bible as we do all other books, that have emanated from the brain of man, with no special divine authority; The Bible degrades Woman from Genesis to Revelation & yet women believe it was written by the fingers of God," wrote Elizabeth Cady Stanton in The Woman's Bible. A signed and inscribed copy of The Woman's Bible by Elizabeth Cady Stanton is a notable lot in this auction. This book was published in 1898 by the European Publishing Company. The first part is signed with a 12-line inscription in Stanton's handwriting. The Woman's Bible is a collection of essays and commentaries on the Bible compiled in 1895 by a committee chaired by Stanton, one of the organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention (the first Woman's Rights Convention held in 1848) and a founder of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Find the complete catalog and register to bid by visiting Swann Auction Galleries.

  • Auction Preview
    Swann Auction Galleries to Offer Works of Everett Shinn, Joseph Stella, and More in Modern & Post-War Art Auction

    Leading the upcoming Modern & Post-War Art sale from Swann Auction Galleries is Everett Shinn’s Central Park, New York. A member of the Ashcan School, Everett Shinn was an American painter, muralist, illustrator, and theater scene designer, mainly based in New York City. Typical of Ashcan art, his vibrantly colored canvases depict urban life, as well as his home and theater murals. A member of "The Eight,” Shinn explored urban topics, visiting the famous parks and sparkling cafes of New York as well as exploring the neighborhood communities of the metropolis. He created a style of picturesque scenes that merged quiet moments with dramatic action, most notably in his pastel and oil paintings of urban spectacles. Another distinguishable lot is a pencil and color crayon work by Joseph Stella titled Portrait of a Young Girl. A gifted draftsman, Italian-born American modernist Joseph Stella produced drawings for most of his career, beginning as a Realist academic studying immigrants and ethnicity. His silverpoint and oil portraits, most of which date from the 1920s, are highly valued today. Other items on offer include an oil on canvas painting by Hans Richter, renowned for his work in painting, sculpture, and avant-garde film. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete Modern & Post-War Art catalog and register to bid.

  • Auction Preview
    William Addison Dwiggins’ 1928 Poster and Volumes of Das Plakat in Upcoming Swann Auction Galleries Event

    The upcoming auction of Graphic Design, offered by Swann Auction Galleries, features rare posters and illustrations by legendary graphic artists. Several featured works are designed by William Addison Dwiggins, an American book designer, type designer, and graphic artist. Highlighted in the sale is Dwiggins’ late 1928 poster for The Architect and the Industrial Arts. The poster advertises the 11th exhibition of contemporary American design held from February 12 to March 24, 1929.  Also among the key lots in this sale is a collection of ten hardcover volumes of Das Plakat (The Poster) by various artists. The volumes were published from 1912 to 1921 in Berlin, Weimar Germany. Das Plakat, a design and art magazine, was founded in 1905 by Hans Sachs (a dentist in Berlin). The influential publication on the art of posters and commercial art ran through 1922. Also up for bid is an illustration by French artist Adolphe Mouron Cassandre. Titled Normandie, the poster was rendered by the artist in 1935. It is meant to advertise the voyage of the Normandie ship that sailed the oceans from 1935 until 1942. A wide selection of racing and automotive posters, including works by Cassarini, Jules De Praetere, and Nils Wedel are available as well. Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and register to bid in the upcoming Graphic Design sale.

  • Auction Preview
    Large Engraved Maps of Colonial America with Original Hand Color Come to Sale with Swann Auction Galleries

    British cartographer Henry Popple worked on the map of North America during 1727 – 1733. It is considered a highly significant map in cartographic history. The upcoming auction by Swann Auction Galleries will feature this large engraved map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish settlements adjacent thereto. With harbor plan border panels, the key map has original hand color in outline and 20 engraved map sheets (15 double-page, five full-page). It also features an engraved armorial bookplate of British politician John Plumptre. Another interesting map is John Melish’s illustration of the United States with the contiguous British and Spanish possessions. The massive-sized map is segmented and mounted to the original linen back with silk edging. It tidily folds into original marbled paper self-wrappers. The Scottish mapmaker is celebrated for publishing some of the foremost maps of the US. The sale also features John James Audubon’s “Black Bellied Darter” (Plate CCC XVI). It is a hand-colored aquatint and engraved plate Birds of America on woven paper by Audubon, an American self-trained artist and naturalist. Audubon was noted for his studies and detailed illustrations of American bird species. To view the complete catalog and register to bid online, visit Swann Auction Galleries. 

  • Auction Preview
    Tom Purvis’ East Coast Joys and Other Vintage Travel Posters Available in Upcoming Swann Auction Galleries Event

    Vintage travel posters are an art form in their own right besides being excellent souvenirs. Swann Auction Galleries is putting up for sale more than 200 rare travel posters featuring scenes from Northern Italy, Greece, Baghdad, and beyond. One of the highlights of the auction is a set of six posters designed by British artist Tom Purvis in 1931. Titled East Coast Joys / Travel by L.N.E.R, the graphic masterwork depicts travel and leisure scenes. The posters, when connected, form a scenic seaside vista.  Another impressive lot from the Swann sale, which features the Victor Ryerson Collection, is a poster by Alfred Reginald Thomson. Take Me by the Flying Scotsman shows a young girl looking up from the railway platform towards the driver, who is communicating with her through a megaphone. Among the other rarities on offer are Nantucket by John Held, Jr. (1889 - 1958), New York / The Upper Bay from Lower Manhattan by Leslie Ragan (1897 - 1972), and Berlin Via Harwich by Frank Newbould (1887 - 1951). Visit Swann Auction Galleries to view the complete catalog and place a bid.

  • Auction Preview
    Swann Auction Galleries Offers Prints by Schongauer, Picasso, and Rembrandt in Upcoming Sale

    A collection of Old Master through Modern prints will be available in the upcoming Swann Auction Galleries auction. Engravings by Martin Schongauer, more than 100 Rembrandt etchings, and works of Pablo Picasso will be on display. The Crucifixion, a Martin Schongauer engraving from circa 1480, is an exceedingly rare piece available in the sale. The engraving has narrow margins outside of the border. Inside of the border is a richly inked impression of the Biblical crucifixion scene with strong contrasts and no signs of wear. It has a gothic letter “P” with a flower watermark. An etching of Rembrandt’s mother, by the artist, will also be offered. The artwork, dated circa 1628, shows three-quarters of the artist’s mother’s head and bust. Other notable artists with work in the auction include Albrecht Dürer, José Clemente Orozco, and Maurits C. Escher. Visit Swann Auction Galleries for the complete collection and to place a bid. 

  • Auction Preview
    Foundational Texts Available From Swann Auction Galleries, Including Shakespeare and Cervantes

    The first modern edition of William Shakespeare’s complete works (Nicholas Rowe’s 1709 Works) was based on the Fourth Folio. Many editions followed suit, increasing its historical value as an original text. The Fourth Folio is the third update to Shakespeare’s works, which corrected obvious errors and modernized the English text, as had the previous numbered folios before it. A copy of this text is featured in the Early Printed Books auction on offer at Swann Auction Galleries, and the auction house says that this particular copy has “distinguished provenance,” and is “finely bound and beautifully preserved.” Shakespeare is well-represented in the sale, as are Charles Darwin, Francis Bacon, Sir Thomas Browne, Miguel de Cervantes, and others. Individual works of interest include a first Valencia edition copy of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha by Cervantes, a Quarto-format manuscript on parchment of The Book of Hours with illuminated miniatures, a first edition, fourth state copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and more. View any of these lots and register to bid at Swann Auction Galleries. 

  • Auction Result
    Around the Auction World: September 2022

    What were the top stories in the auction industry this month? Illustrations for Moby-Dick. Image courtesy of Christie’s. Auction Highlights Book lovers flocked to Christie’s for a timed auction of all things Herman Melville this month. The auction house presented a timed sale of the Herman Melville Collection of William S. Reese. Totaling USD 2,783,214, the event featured the author’s annotated copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy, as well as early editions of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. Illustrations by Rockwell Kent for Melville’s famous story also attracted high prices.  Elsewhere in the industry, an aluminum license plate from 1904 believed to be the first-ever plate issued by the City of Chicago sold for $34,000 at Donley Auctions. The final price of this Chicago license plate was 17 times its high estimate. Those seeking rare collectibles from the past also browsed the offerings from Julien’s Auctions during the company’s recent Gangsters, Cowboys, Politicians, and Astronauts auction. A handwritten letter from Al Capone was among the top lots. Auctions at Showplace presented a broad selection of Neoclassical, Modern, and Brutalist furniture in its recent New York City Estate Auction, including items from Duncan Phyfe and Paul Evans. Auction Daily recently reported on two notable sales from around the auction world that occurred in August of 2022. One was Swann Auction Galleries’ fourth annual LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History sale. While the top lots primarily included fine art from Tom of Finland, Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others, relics of LGBTQ+ history also performed well. And at Bonhams Skinner, an original journal from America’s first luxury yacht sold for an astounding $100,000. Cartier Paris 18-karat gold and enamel vanity case. Image courtesy of WinBids Auctions. What’s Coming Up Next month, collectors can expect the auction market to enter the fall season in full swing. The largest auction houses have blockbuster sales planned, including the Paul G. Allen Collection at Christie’s. Companies are also expanding their services to take advantage of new markets. This includes continued exploration of NFTs and direct consignments from contemporary artists.  Elsewhere, collectors can consider a curated sale of fine…

  • Auction Result
    LGBTQ+ History and Material Culture Draws Bids at Swann Auction Galleries

    The spirit of Pride Month has extended well past June this year. Swann Auction Galleries presented its fourth annual LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History sale on August 18, 2022, attracting active bidding and strong results. The auction catalog took in the wealth of LGBTQ+ history and art, including photographs from icons such as Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, and JEB. The top lot of the auction was a portrait sketch from Tom of Finland, which achieved USD 52,500 against a high estimate of $30,000. However, the sale also yielded surprising prices for relics of LGBTQ+ history.  SILENCE=DEATH COLLECTIVE, Silence=Death VOTE, 1988. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. The mainstream art world remains rather new to the realm of LGBTQ+ history. Auction specialists, museum curators, and art world journalists have long neglected the stories and realities of LGBTQ+ individuals. Because of social intolerance, preserving LGBTQ+ history has been a challenge. As noted by Eduardo Ayala Fuentes of the Leslie-Lohman Museum, “It’s people in [LGBTQ+] communities uplifting the voices, recognizing the inherent value in the history that this art is depicting, and that juxtaposed to an art world that can be very speculative at times.”  The recent Swann Auction Galleries event suggests that the cultural conversation around LGBTQ+ history has changed. The auction house stated that the event attracted not only spirited bidding but also large amounts of consigned material. Among the top overall lots of the sale was a lithograph poster from the Silence=Death Collective, an activist artist group dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS epidemic. The available poster dated back to 1988 and featured the reclaimed pink triangle formerly used to mark LGBTQ+ people in Nazi concentration camps. It called for viewers to vote in the 1988 presidential election, proclaiming that “Your vote is a weapon… use it… we are at war.” The poster sold for $15,000, more than three times the high estimate of $4,000.  Another key work of protest art in the auction was an ink on cardboard sign from Philadelphia’s late 1960s Annual Reminder march, one of the first organized gay rights protests in the United…

  • Auction Preview
    Swann Galleries’ Upcoming Event Will Focus on Art by Women and Activists of Color

    Czech illustrator, graphic designer, and painter Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová, was recognized as the first female graphic novelist. Her book, Z mého dětství, meaning From My Childhood, was a groundbreaking autobiographical work. It featured 94 woodcuts and several dark graphics. A first edition copy of this novel is available in Swann Auction Galleries’ upcoming Focus on Women sale. Numbered 46 of 60, the partially unopened book is signed by the artist in pencil on the title page.  Significant works by Black women are also highlighted. Leading this set is a rare Phillis Wheatley poem titled Recollection. Printed in the London Magazine in 1772, it was the first time Wheatley’s work was published in a magazine. Before this, her writing was only printed in pamphlets and newspapers. From Georgia Johnson’s Bronze: A Book of Verse to Nella Larsen’s Passing, collectors will find photographs, books, and prints by other noted Black activists and women. To view the full catalog or place a bid, visit Swann Auction Galleries.  

  • Auction Preview
    Tilsa Tsuchiya Castillo Painting Brings Peruvian Myth to Life in Post-War Art Auction

    An angelic, almost surreal figure lays on top of a rock-like structure with its wings stretched out into the golden sky in an oil painting by Tilsa Tsuchiya Castillo (1928 - 1984). The Peru-born French artist of Japanese descent won numerous awards like the prestigious Bienal of Teknoquimica Prize for painting. Tsuchiya often painted Peruvian myths and legends and included issues of gender and identity in her works. This mythical painting remained with Tsuchiya’s youngest son, Gilles Mercier Tsuchiya, until now. Swann Auction Galleries is presenting this masterpiece alongside Modern and Post-War Art in its upcoming auction. Painted by Tsuchiya in 1973, this painting comes with a certificate issued by the Museo de Arte. Post-war abstraction lots in the sale include works by Robert Lee Neal, Dorothy Dehner, John Von Wicht, and Shinkichi Tajiri. Dorothy Dehner’s Candles and Mellons is a corten steel sculpture with an oxidized patina available in the auction. Although Dehner immersed herself in art from an early age, she didn’t start making her metal sculptures until the 1950s. She was encouraged by her husband David Smith, an American Abstract Expressionist painter and sculptor. The couple traveled extensively, which influenced Dehner’s art. This season’s Modern & Post-War Art sale will feature the Gary Snyder collection, Museum of Non-Objective Painting exhibitors, and Indian Space painters. Find the listed items and more by visiting Swann Auction Galleries and registering to place a bid.

  • Auction Industry
    Around the Auction World: April 2022

    Strong results poured in from around the auction world as the art sector made its comeback this April. Live events like Expo Chicago and the Venice Biennale returned in (almost) full swing. Online infrastructure built during the COVID-19 pandemic remained relevant in an increasingly-connected market. Auction Daily examined some of the top news stories from the past month, plus some views from behind the curtain of the art world.  Here are the top headlines from around the auction world this April.  Hughie Lee-Smith, Quandary, 1997. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. Auction Highlights Auction Daily reported on the impressive results of Swann Auction Galleries’ spring African American Art event, which wrapped up on March 31, 2022. The sale cemented the rise of Black American artists in the collecting sphere, with new records set for Hughie Lee-Smith and Ed Clark. An unexpected star of the sale was Alma Thomas’ Untitled (Atmospheric Effects Series) from the early 1970s. It sold for USD 209,000 against a high estimate of $40,000. Thomas’ exuberant paintings also saw strong bidding with Doyle this month. A Washington, D.C. middle school teacher by day, Thomas spent her nights and retirement creating colorful canvases awash in natural beauty.  Elsewhere, Brunk Auctions produced solid results for work by American Southern artists. Among the top lots was Maud Gatewood’s Second Snow Starting, a quiet meditation on North Carolinian winters. It found a buyer for $30,240 after 13 competitive bids. The event also featured the work of artists such as Lê Phổ, Jean Varda, Lamar Dodd, and June Schwarcz.  Other key highlights from around the auction world included Ladenburger Spielzeugauktion’s April 2, 2022 premier Steiff sale. A dark blonde mohair Teddy bear ($22,000) and a fully-joined Golliwog doll ($18,000) were among the surprise top lots. And to close the month, Sotheby’s Hong Kong presented a major Louise Bourgeois Spider, the most expensive modern and contemporary sculpture ever to be offered in Asia. It achieved $16.5 million.  Hughie Lee-Smith, Quandary, 1997. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. What’s Coming Up A masterpiece that disappeared from the public eye for 150 years is expected…

  • Auction Result
    Auction Review: Impressive Firsts at Swann’s Spring 2022 Auction of African American Art

    Ten record-smashing works and seven auction debuts highlighted Swann Auction Galleries’ spring African American Art event, conducted on March 31, 2022. The auction realized a total of USD 3.6 million from the 214 lots sold. The event saw an 89% sell-through rate, and 27 lots were unable to find buyers. “The continued success of our African American Art auctions, now in our fifteenth year, proves the breadth of this market. I am especially pleased that we set a new auction record for Hughie Lee-Smith — finally eclipsing our own record with the sale of Slum Song, set in 2007. We also are thrilled to achieve the highest price for a work on paper by Ed Clark,” expressed Nigel Freeman, Director of African American Art at Swann. Hughie Lee-Smtih, Aftermath, c. 1960. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. The standout artist of the sale was Hughie Lee-Smith, with 11 works featured in the catalog, four of which made it to the top 20 lots realizing the highest price. The record-breaking work, Aftermath, sold for $365,000, setting a high for the artist. It is a significant painting from Lee-Smith’s mid-career years. The painting depicts the artist’s view of urban decay with the background of a crumbling store facade. Three additional Hughie Lee-Smith works sold during the African American Art event. Quandary from 1997 achieved $197,000, while 1982’s Still Life with Nectarines sold for $45,000. Sketch of a Boy, executed in 1937, hammered at $11,875. Ed Clark, Spatial Image III, c. 1982. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. Ed Clark’s Spatial Image III sold for $341,000, a record for a work on paper by the artist. The painting is an abstraction representing chaos and control created using the dry pigment technique inspired by the Pueblo sand paintings of the American Southwest. Alma Thomas, Untitled (Atmospheric Effects Series), c. 1971. Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries. Works from the contemporary section of the African American Art sale showed impressive results, with Michael A. Cummings (Martin Luther King Jr., $47,500) and Freddie Styles (Untitled (Root Series), $42,500) setting new auction records. An untitled work by…

  • Auction Preview
    Letter Containing Earliest Reference to Uncle Sam Comes Up For Bid

    “I expect to go to New Haven next week to inspect armes made by Ely Whitney for Unkel Sam 500.” This casual remark by Robert Orr in an 1803 letter to his son is the earliest-known written use of the term “Uncle Sam” to personify the American federal government. Orr was the master armorer at the time and was therefore responsible for armory inspections such as the one in New Haven run by Eli Whitney. Reference to Eli Whitney and his contract with the U.S. Government lend the letter historical significance beyond its simple age. The original copy of this letter is currently up for sale in the Printed & Manuscript Americana event, offered by Swann Auction Galleries. Other items of historical significance in this sale include a photograph album documenting the 1899 Peary Relief Expedition, a letter announcing the cessation of hostilities with Great Britain written by Robert R. Livingston, an early French printing of the Declaration of Independence, and more. Some of the manuscript items in the auction include a first edition of the Noah Webster translation of the Bible, a document used by Senators for the hearing on “Project MKUltra, the CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification,” and a Treasury report featuring the first formal federal budget (by Alexander Hamilton). View any of these lots and register to bid on Swann Auction Galleries’ website. 

  • Auction Preview
    Swann Auction Galleries Presents Work by Harlem Renaissance Artists Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence

    Artworks by Harlem Renaissance artists Norman Lewis and Jacob Lawrence will be highlighted in the upcoming African American Art auction, presented by Swann Auction Galleries. An important figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Norman Lewis focused his work on the struggles of Black American urban living of the time. He was credited for his part in organizing the Harlem Artists Guild. The goal of the Guild was not only to provide Black American artists with creative opportunities but to support those dealing with societal and political discrimination. Swann Auction Galleries will be presenting a 1948 Norman Lewis oil painting in this event. Untitled (Rhododendrons) is one of Lewis’ early works. It was here when he began experimenting with the Modernist style through abstract painting and a black, gray, and green color scheme. A 1986 Jacob Lawrence screenprint will also appear in the auction. General Toussaint L'Ouverture is signed, dated, titled, and numbered 38/100 in pencil at the lower left corner. It was printed by Lou Stovall, the Workshop, Inc., Washington D.C. View the entire collection and register to bid at Swann Auction Galleries.