Christie’s Americana Auction: Historical Triumphs and Keet’s Legacy

In a triumphant showcase of historical significance and collector enthusiasm, Christie’s recently unveiled the remarkable results of its Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana auction.

The auction, with a total sales figure of $11,145,044, exceeded expectations by achieving a staggering 105% hammer above the low estimate and an impressive 86% sell-through rate by lot.

Christie's Americana Auction: Historical Triumphs and Keet's Legacy
Thevenot Recueil De Voyages

An exciting revelation was the significant influx of new participants in the Americana category at Christie’s. More than 15% of both buyers and bidders were newcomers to this domain within the Christie’s auctions.

Furthermore, a notable 10% of the buyers belonged to the millennial demographic, indicating a broadening appeal and relevance of Americana artefacts.

The Pinnacle: Stamp Act Defiance Placard Commands Attention

The highlight of the auction undoubtedly centred around “The Stamp Act Defiance Placard,” a pivotal artefact that fetched an impressive $4,527,000.

Not only does this placard hold the distinction of being the earliest known documentary evidence of popular revolt against Great Britain in the American colonies, but it also stands as the sole example of its kind in private ownership.

Christie's Americana Auction: Historical Triumphs and Keet's Legacy

Peter Klarnet, the Head of Sales, emphasised the historical importance, stating, “The sale of this important artefact from the dawn of the American Revolution highlights the crucial role played by New York City in the events leading to 1776.”

Documenting History: Key Highlights

Several other noteworthy pieces contributed to the auction’s success, including the earliest record of Lee’s surrender during the Civil War, part of the first official set of manifolds documenting the event, which sold for $882,000.

The Battle of Lexington and Concord, depicted in Isaac de Costa’s 1775 map, the first map of the Revolutionary War, achieved a significant $327,600. Additionally, “Admiranda narratio fida tamen, de commodis et incolarum ritibus Virginiae” by Theodor de Bry and Thomas Hariot, dating back to 1590, or “The Great Voyages, Part I,” in Latin, secured a commendable $252,000.

The Keet Collection Triumph: A Testament to Vision and Philanthropy

A notable portion of the auction, “The Library of Ernest E. Keet: New France and New England,” witnessed resounding success, totalling $3,372,284—remarkably 147% above the low estimate.

Christie's Americana Auction: Historical Triumphs and Keet's Legacy
Stamp Act Placard

Christina Geiger, the Head of the Department, expressed satisfaction, stating, “We are very gratified to achieve these results on behalf of the Cloudsplitter Foundation, directly benefitting the people and environment of the Adirondacks. The success of this collection is a wonderful testament to Mr. Keet’s vision as a philanthropist and collector.” Notably, three of the top six lots in the sale originated from the Keet collection.

In conclusion, Christie’s Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana Auction not only surpassed financial expectations but also celebrated the rich history of the American Revolution and the visionary collectors who contributed to preserving and sharing these invaluable artefacts.

The results stand as a testament to the auction house’s commitment to excellence and the enduring appeal of Americana in the eyes of both seasoned collectors and a new wave of enthusiasts.

Images: Christies

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