Arthur Szyk's masterpieces The Haggadah and Statutes of Kalisz lead books auction

Later today, Swann Galleries is offering a sale of 19th & 20th Century Literature, Art, Press & Illustrated Books. The sale features a number of literary high spots, livres d'artiste from Matisse, Léger, Hockney, and others

There is also a fine private collection of works by Edward Gorey including his three rarest titles. In fact of 328 lots, 47 relate to Gorey, who seems to be proving particularly interesting to collectors given that just a week ago some sinister-looking elephants by the late illustrator sold for $6,000.

Hemingway collectors will be very excited to see one piece in particular in the sale: a first edition (there was only one) copy of the great writer's first book, titled simply Three Stories and Ten Poems, of which only 300 were printed.

Held in its original blue-grey wrappers with two small chips along the spine, professionally repaired with minor expert colour restoration and with the outer edges of covers lightly toned, but the book inside in fine condition, it is expected to sell for $15,000-20,000.

However the expected top lots are two associated with graphic artist, book illustrator, stage designer and caricaturist Arthur Szyk, namely a first Szyk edition of The Haggadah and one of 500 facsimile copies of the Statutes of Kalisz.

Szyk's Haggadah
Rare edition of Arthur Szyk's Haggadah

The former, edited by Cecil Roth, is the artist's best-known work and the most celebrated modern illustrated Haggadah. One of just 125 copies on vellum signed by both, it is estimated at $30,000-40,000.

The original Statutes of Kalisz, were the Charter of Rights granted to the Jews of Poland by Boleslav the Pious in 1264.

In 1926, following Marshal Jozef Pilsudski's coup d'etat in Poland, Szyk wanted to create a work that might help welcome the Jews into full and equal participation in the newly re-established state, so he turned to this medieval document for inspiration.

Szyk translated the original Latin into Polish, English, Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, German, and Spanish as an example of modern religious tolerance of all European nations in an increasingly intolerant age.

One of 500 copies, the work goes under the hammer with an estimate of $40,000-60,000 in Swann's sale which starts in New York at 1.30pm EDT.


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