Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is pleased to announce that Francis Wahlgren has joined the firm as an exclusive consultant for its Fine Books and Manuscripts department. He will be based in New York, but will assist the auction house’s eight locations nationwide, including its Chicago headquarters. He joins Gretchen Hause, Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts, who joined the firm in May of last year. Mr. Wahlgren and Ms. Hause previously worked together for 7 years in the Books and Manuscripts Department at Christie’s in New York.
Over the past twenty-four years, Mr. Wahlgren has appeared regularly as an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow. Francis first joined Christie’s in 1987 as a porter in the Books and Prints Departments and, working through such historic sales as the Estelle Doheny Library sale, continued developing his expertise.
In 1990 he joined Swann Galleries as cataloguer and became an auctioneer before re-joining Christie’s in 1993 to start a book department at Christie’s East. He headed this department until 1997 when he became Head of the New York Department at Park Avenue and was appointed Senior Vice President in 2000. In 2007 he was appointed International Head of the Books and Manuscripts department based in New York with global responsibilities for the department, and from 2013 to his departure in 2017 served as International Director focusing on the most important clients and business worldwide.
“I am thrilled to be working with Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, and I am eager to contribute my experience and many relationships to this thriving auction firm based in the heart of the American rare book world,” said Wahlgren. “I am excited about the opportunity of working together with Gretchen and the Hindman team focusing on bringing important collections and pieces to the market here.”
Over the course of his career, Wahlgren managed the sale of numerous important and historic book collections including The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, which realized a notable $18.7 million; The Abel Berland Library of English Literature and early printed books; The History of the Book: The Cornelius J. Hauck Collection, which totaled $12.4 million; The Frank S. Streeter Collection of Navigation and Voyages; Important Books, Atlases and Manuscripts: The Private Library of Kenneth Nebenzahl; and The Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow Collection of illustrated books.
He has also brought significant items to auction such as the Francis Crick “Secret of Life” letter, which sold for a record-setting price exceeding $6 million; a rare suppressed first edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which sold for $1.54 million; a Bute set of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America, which sold for $8.8 million; and a first edition of Newton’s Principia, which sold for $3.7 million, to name some of his other significant accomplishments.
“It is not surprising to me that the majority of the greatest books and collections I have sold over the last three decades have either been consigned by or purchased by clients in the Midwest. I truly believe our combined focus on bringing more high-quality activity through Chicago will be a welcome development for collectors and institutions alike,” said Wahlgren.
Francis began his career at the Pierpont Morgan Library after graduating with a master’s degree in art history and medieval books from Queens College, New York.
To contact the Fine Books and Manuscripts department at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, visit lesliehindman.com or call 312.280.1212.