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Shakespeare, Lincoln Huge Favorites at Sotheby’s Auction

October 30, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ A first-edition volume of William Shakespeare’s plays sold for $250,000 at auction Tuesday, while the first photograph of Abraham Lincoln with a full beard, signed by the president-elect, went for $126,500.

The 1623 folio, ``Mr. William Shakespeare Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Published according to the True Originall Copies,″ was one of three volumes of the bard’s plays to be sold at Sotheby’s auction house.

Sotheby’s described the 1623 edition as ``incomparably the most important work in the English language.″

With gilt edges and marbled end leaves, it presents the first editions of 18 of Shakespeare’s plays and rare authoritative texts of several others. Sotheby’s had estimated its value at between $80,000 and $120,000.

The Lincoln portrait was taken two weeks before he left Springfield, Ill., for Washington. Signed by Lincoln in 1861 with the words ``president-elect,″ it also went for well above the estimated value of $30,000 to $40,000.

A letter Lincoln wrote in 1864 on ``Executive Mansion″ stationery, urging the recruitment of black soldiers from Kentucky in a manner ``free from colateral embarrassments″ for Kentucky’s governor, sold for $85,000.

The auction house did not reveal the names of the sellers or the buyers. All the prices include a 10 to 15 percent buyer’s premium.

A well-preserved, third edition of the Shakespeare collection printed in 1664 sold for $112,500, more than double the estimate sale price of $35,000 to $50,000.

It had an engraved portrait of Shakespeare, carefully repaired tears, and seven more plays than the 1623 edition, only one of which, ``Pericles,″ is accepted as the bard’s.

A damaged second edition, printed in 1632 and marred by numerous readers’ notes, sold for $49,450. It also includes Milton’s essay on Shakespeare and Milton’s first English essay to see print. Its estimated value was $20,000 to $30,000.

A copy of George Washington’s farewell address, signed by Andrew Jackson and with a maximum estimated value of $5,000, sold for $23,000.

An 1855 first edition of Walt Whitman’s ``Leaves of Grass,″ worth an estimated $22,000 to $28,000, sold for $56,350.

And a first edition of Mark Twain’s ``The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,″ published in 1876, also sold for $56,350. The estimate sale price was $10,000 to $12,000.

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