The story of America's history, told through rare antiquarian books

Bonhams announces "The American Experience: 1630-1890," an auction of printed and manuscript Americana in New York. Simulcast to San Francisco, the 300-lot no reserve auction is a multi-million dollar sale with individual estimates ranging from the low hundreds to six figures.

It comprises the collection of well-known San Francisco-based bibliophile Bruce E. McKinney, a collector who has made it his mission to demystify the rarefied world of antiquarian books. McKinney, the founder of a website devoted exclusively to book collecting, has included acquisition information (where he bought each book and for how much) and insisted upon a no reserve auction - an exciting prospect for collectors across the globe.

The story of the American Experience is told through McKinney's selection of extremely rare books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and early maps and prints that chronicle the country's colonization and move westward over a period of nearly 300 years.

It is the story of the pioneers, explorers, and everyday individuals who built the United States from an outlier colony to the powerful country it is today.

One of the more spectacular highlights included in this sale is a book featuring some of the most beautiful maps and views ever made of the Mississippi and Ohio River Basins (est. $80,000-120,000).

Titled Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale, the work by Victor Collot features two text volumes and an atlas containing 32 finely engraved plates by Tardieu. Victor Collot served under Rochambeau in the American Revolutionary War.

Victor Collot's Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale
Image from Victor Collot's Voyage dans l'Amérique septentrionale

In the late 1790s he was commissioned by the French government to explore the western interior, then under Spanish control. The notes and drawings from his expedition down the Ohio and the Mississippi are phenomenally detailed and remain some of the most evocative depictions of the Midwestern wilderness ever produced.

However, due to the Louisiana Purchase, Collot's work was not released when it was printed and thus it is exceedingly rare on the market, making it an excellent candidate for a tangible investment. Bonhams' auction is to be held on December 2, 2010


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