Rare books and Important Historical Documents from The Estate of Fred Bentley, Sr. will be Auctioned Feb. 7-9 in Atlanta

Atlanta, GA, USA, January 26, 2024 --
William Shakespeare's Second Folio dated to 1632, an 1818 copy of the Declaration of Independence as published by Benjamin Owen Tyler, and a sea letter from 1793 signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are just a few of the expected headliners in Ahlers & Ogletree’s auction slated for February 7th-9th, online and live in the Atlanta gallery.

The three-day event comprises the lifetime collection of important historical books and documents from the estate of Fred Bentley, Sr. – over 900 lots in all across the three days.

An avid reader and collector his entire life, Mr. Bentley gave generously to his community in support of this passion by founding the rare book rooms at Brenau College and Kennesaw State University. Born and raised in Georgia, Bentley's illustrious career as an attorney fueled his love for the written word, specifically rare collections, and his philanthropic acts are a testament to his enduring commitment to encouraging a love for reading and collecting in others.

Mr. Bentley's contributions have left a lasting legacy in his community, and the items in this auction offer an opportunity for bidders to invest in the collections that he curated over the course of his life.

Session 1, on Wednesday, February 7th, will feature Dickens, Shakespeare, Incunabula and early documents. Session 2, on Thursday February 8th, will contain historical books and documents from the Revolutionary War through the 19th century. Session 3, on Friday, February 9th, will showcase important works of fiction and poetry from Mark Twain and others.

The auction’s undisputed star lot is the Second Folio edition of Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, printed in London in 1632 by Thos. Cotes for Robert Allot. The folio, with annotations, contains John Milton’s first appearance in print (his anonymous epitaph to Shakespeare). The rare folio is expected to change hands for $200,000-$250,000.

The 1818 copperplate engraving on paper broadside of The Declaration of Independence by Benjamin Owen Tyler (1789-1855) was published by Peter Maverick (1780-1831). The facsimile is 29 inches by 20 ¼ inches (paper, less frame) and has a dedication to Thomas Jefferson and an endorsement to Secretary of State Richard Rush (est. $10,000-$20,000).

The incredibly rare letter boldly signed by George Washington (as President) and Thomas Jefferson (as Secretary of State) is a four-language cut ship document dated July 9, 1793. It is countersigned by Hodijah Baylies, the collector of customs, for the schooner Rebecca, to ship commander Samuel Swasey. It’s matted in archival glass and framed (est. $5,000-$10,000).

A President Abraham Lincoln signed document dated March 21, 1861 is for the appointment of Calvin Hudson of New York to be the Commissioner of the United States of which to advocate claims of U.S. citizens over Costa Rica, making him the first consulate there appointed by Lincoln. The document is framed, with a large illustration of Lincoln (est. $5,000-$7,000).

A first edition copy of Benjamin Franklin’s Political, Miscellaneous ad Philiosophical Pieces, published in 1779 by J. Johnson (London), is the only edition of Franklin’s writings (other than his scientific studies) published during his lifetime. The book is quarter bound in tan leather with marbled boards and the spine features gilt tilting on a black field (est. $2,000-$4,000).

A copy of William Shakespeare’s Midsommer Night’s Dream, taken from a Second Folio of Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies (pages 145-162), was published in London in 1632. It’s the complete play, with correct watermarks for a Second Folio play. The pages have been bound in modern blue boards with vellum at the spine (est. $8,000-$10,000).

A copy of Francesco Petrarcha’s book Sonetii e Canzoni, printed in 1514 by Aldus Manutius (1449-1515) and the Aldine Press, is bound in a highly decorated hand-cut double-sided Venetian window design and hand painted within each of the 21 compartments located on each of its sides. The internal designs are hand decorated with armorial-like floral symbols (est. $4,000-$6,000). 

A finely-bound two-volume, first edition set of Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians by George Catlin, published in 1841 by the author at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, and printed by Tosswill and Myers, is an important work with over 400 illustrations. Both books have been re-bound and have marbled end papers (est. $2,000-$4,000).

A very early example of political cartooning, from the January 30, 1788 issue of the Massachusetts Centinel, 4 pages, depicts columns representing Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut awaiting the addition of the Massachusetts column uplifted by a pair of hands coming out of clouds, in a reference to the state’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution (est. $2,000-$3,000).

Samuel Clemens (better known by his nom de plume, Mark Twain) will take center stage on Day 3 (February 9th). Several of the more important Mark Twain offerings include the following lots:

- A first edition, first state copy of Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published by American Publishing Co., bound in the publisher’s three-quarter Morocco binding, one of 200 copies offered in leather by the publisher. In a custom leather clamshell case (est. $5,000-$7,000).

- A first edition, first state copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the rare blue cloth boards, published in 1885 by Charles L. Webster. Contains all first edition first state error points listed in Johnson (43-50). Gilt decoration on the book’s front (est. $2,000-$3,000).

- A circa 1901-1903 letter handwritten and signed, as “SL Clemens”, addressed to Louis Livingston Seaman (1851-1932), penned on Riverdale on the Hudson mourning stationery, possibly related to the death of his eldest daughter, Olivia (1872-1896) (est. $1,500-$3,000).

An original illustration for the classic novel Oliver Twist, drawn by Felix O.C. Darley (American, 1822-1888), titled Oliver Perfects His Technique (1887), executed in graphite and watercolor wash on paper and depicting an old man in a kitchen, is signed and dated in pencil lower left, with an inscription. The illustration is 15 ¼ inches by 12 ¾ inches (less the frame). (est. $2,500-$4,500).

An important and early complete five-volume set of Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Totius Theologiae, printed in 1596 by Franciscis Senenfem (Venice) is expected to bring $2,000-$4,000. Each volume is bound in original vellum over paper boards, which was then covered with an intricately stamped design, in red, of squares and spiked forms creating a matrix of design. The titles are handwritten.

Internet bidding will be available on Ahlers & Ogletree’s platform -- bid.AandOAuctions.com -- plus LiveAuctioneers.com and Invaluable.com. Absentee and phone bids will be accepted. Previews will be held by appointment only, in the Ahlers & Ogletree gallery at 1788 Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard NW in Atlanta. To schedule an appointment, call 404-869-2478; or, email to info@aandoauctions.com.

To learn more about Ahlers & Ogletree and the three-day auction scheduled for February 7th thru 9th, online and live in the Atlanta gallery, visit www.aandoauctions.com. Updates are posted often. You can follow Ahlers & Ogletree via social media on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

About Ahlers & Ogletree:
Ahlers & Ogletree is a multi-faceted, family-owned business that spans the antiques, estate sale, wholesale, liquidation, auction and related industries. Ahlers & Ogletree is always seeking quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single item, an estate or a collection, you may call them directly at 404-869-2478; or, you can send them an e-mail, at consign@AandOauctions.com. To learn more about Ahlers & Ogletree, visit http://www.aandoauctions.com. Updates are posted often. You can follow Ahlers & Ogletree via social media on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.