Lot 150 of 175:
Nabokov butterfly archive with letter & drawings  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyer's Premium):$15,600
$10,000 - $15,000

Archive relating to Nabokov’s research on the Lepidoptera Lycaenidae, including a lengthy handwritten letter to a noted lepidopterist; inscribed offprints of articles by Nabokov; original sketches; and more
Nabokov, Vladimir
Various places


  • A 7-page autograph letter signed by Nabokov (in ink) to Kansas lepidopterist Donald B. Stallings, on the letterhead of Harvard College’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, dated March 10, 1944. The letter gives extensive details of Nabokov’s Lycaeides research.
  • A 6-page typed list of Lycaeides specimens sent to Nabokov by Stallings and J.B. Turner. On the last page of this list, Nabokov  has written, in pencil, a 12-line note regarding the list, and signed the note.
  • 4 pages, in pen, of drawings by Nabokov, of Lycaeides morphology, notably genitalia.
  • A 1-page autograph letter signed by Nabokov, undated, on the letterhead of Harvard College’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, to Donald B. Stallings. The letter notes that Stallings has cleared up a research question for Nabokov, and lists issues of the journal PSYCHE in which Nabokov has published his research.
  • Reprints of Nabokov’s Lycaeides research articles in PSYCHE, vol. L, #’s 3-4; vol. LI, #’s 3-4; vol. LII, nos. 1-2; and in the Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College, vol. 101, no. 4. Each of these four reprints is inscribed by Nabokov to Stallings in ink, one with a small drawing of a butterfly. There are Nabokov’s pen corrections in two of the reprints, of which two corrections are extensive. 
  • A manila mailing envelope addressed by Nabokov  to Stallings and with Nabokov’s return address of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. The envelope is stamped and the cancellation is dated March 13, 1944.
  • A 1-page reprint from vol. 14, nos. 1 & 2 of the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, concerning Donald B. Stallings’ research on Kansas Lepidoptera.  
Significant archive on Vladimir Nabokov’s research into butterflies, which both pre-dated and was contiguous with his literary endeavors. He was successful in both fields - Nabokov’s importance as a lepidopterist is considered by many to equal that of his importance as a literary figure. Certainly, his literary works are vastly infused with passages and imagery of butterflies. Yet copies of Nabokov’s published scientific writings on butterflies rarely come on the market, and even less commonly, his unpublished scientific works. This archive contains the majority (264 out of a total of 325 pages) of his published works on lepidoptery. And the works here are his most important. Adding the 12 pages of his handwritten research, this is a remarkable archive, from a man who once said had he not left his butterfly collecting days in the Russia of his youth, he might never have taken up the writing of literature.
Lot Amendments
Overall in fine condition.
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