Though presenting only the second part, and even that incomplete, a defective but a very early copy of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress sold in Chicago on May 3 was a real rarity.
Offered by Hindman (25/20/12% buyer’s premium), it was one printed by John Draper for Thomas Fleet in Boston in 1744 and was preceded only in America by an un-illustrated Boston edition of 1681 and the 1738, first part of this same later edition.
Stab-sewn and retaining only the lower marbled wrapper and a portion of the spine, this rarity lacked the frontispiece, along with one of the four crude woodcut illustrations that may have originated in either America or England.
Auction records, said the saleroom, suggest that no other copy has sold at auction since 1916 and only seven survivors are noted elsewhere. This incomplete example of Pt II sold for $6000 (£4800).
Bid to $4250 (£3400) was something very different: a 1930 first of Not Without Laughter, the first published novel of Langston Hughes (1901-67).
Hughes, an American writer and social activist from Joplin, Missouri, who has been described as one of the earlier innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry, is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Auction records suggest that only a couple of copies retaining the dust jacket have been seen at auction in the past 40 years.
Bid to $6500 (£5200) was a copy of The Old Man and the Sea that is inscribed “Ernest Hemingway Finca Vigia San Francisco de Paula Cuba 1958” on the title-page.
In an unrestored and unclipped jacket, it was a later issue example of the 1952 first edition of the book that earned Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize for fiction the following year.