NEW YORK—An 1873 book titled The Arctic Regions, complete with a narrative and 141 mounted photographs by American artist and explorer William Bradford, drew the top price at the Swann Galleries Feb. 28 photography and photobooks sale, earning $180,000 and exceeding the $100,000/150,000 estimate. The book documented six separate expeditions to the Arctic and is considered a landmark in polar exploration.
Overall, the sale earned $1.1 million, meeting the presale estimate of $962,500/1.4 million, and 87, or 78 percent, of the 112 lots on offer found buyers.
Other strong prices were seen for works, including Berenice Abbott’s portfolio of 50 images taken between 1930 and 1960, which sold for $102,000, compared with an estimate of $90,000/110,000; Doris Ulmann’s 1933 book of photogravures, which sold for $38,400, compared with an estimate of $20,000/30,000; and Tina Modotti’s suite of three photographs of puppets, ca. 1929, which sold for $36,000, compared with an estimate of $15,000/25,000.
A group of inmate mug shots from the San Francisco Police Department, dated 1908–10, sold for $31,200, on an estimate of $4,000/6,000, and a daguerreotype of a Boston School House, ca. 1850, by Albert Southworth and Josiah Hawes, sold for $28,800, compared with an estimate of $25,000/35,000. Photos of Marilyn Monroe by George Zimbel, published in a portfolio of 23 images, sold for $26,400, compared with an estimate of $18,000/22,000.
Some lots performed considerably better than estimates. An album of 48 photographs of Jerusalem, 1870s, by Félix Bonfils, brought $22,800, far higher than the estimate of $3,000/4,500, and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s portrait of sculptor Alberto Giacometti in his Paris studio sold for $21,600, compared with an estimate of $9,000/12,000.
Other works that missed the low estimate but were sold nonetheless included, Abbott’s George Washington Bridge, 1937, which was estimated at $8,000/12,000, but sold for $6,720; Ansel Adams’s Tree, Stump, Mist, Northern Cascades, Washington, dated 1960, printed in 1972, which sold for $6,240, compared with an estimate of $10,000/15,000; and Weegee’s The Critic, 1943, printed in 1959, which sold for $5,520, below the estimate of $8,000/12,000.