Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Louis H. Sullivan (American, 1856-1924)
    A Rare Original Manuscript for Democracy (A Man-Search), circa 1908
    13-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches (34.3 x 23.5 cm)
    Cloth-bound carbon-printed paper, with ink and pencil notations with Louis Sullivan's calling card adhered to inside front cover

    Louis Sullivan;
    Gifted to Dr. George Arndt, circa 1908;
    Thence by descent.

    Accompanied by two issues of The Prairie School Review from 1973, a copy of The Montessori Method, inscribed by Sullivan to Mrs. Arndt and a letter by Dr. Arndt's daughter, Mary Arndt Rahming, regarding Sullivan and Arndt's friendship. Louis Sullivan, considered "the father of skyscrapers," was a highly renowned and influential architect of the Chicago School, most well known for his collaboration with Dankmar Adler and his mentorship to Frank Lloyd Wright. With the advent of steel-frame construction technology, Sullivan was able to create buildings taller than ever before. He had a fascination with Greek and Roman architecture, and as such, his modern style was inspired by the aesthetics and proportions of classical columns -- exaggerating vertical elements, minimizing horizontal elements, and stripping away much of the ornamentation. Having completed such masterpieces as the Auditorium Building in 1889 and the Wainwright Building in 1891, he reached an impasse in his career following the Columbian Exposition of 1893, which ushered in a renewed demand for Neoclassical style buildings. Sullivan believed in experimentation and exploration of an endless variety of new forms and design elements, building on the foundations of architectural traditions, but rejecting dogmatic repetition and recapitulation of styles and movements stuck in the past. After the dissolution of his partnership with Adler in 1894, Sullivan's commissions slowed down as he was unwilling to sacrifice his vision to satisfy the stylistic demands of the time. As a result, his attention shifted from architecture to writing.

    Democracy: A Man-Search is Louis Sullivan's second book, published posthumously in 1940. By all available historical accounts, there are merely three known completed manuscripts: a copy written in pencil in Sullivan's hand, dated March 31, 1906, housed at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library in New York City, and two carbon copies dated April 18, 1908, held at the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries in Chicago. The present manuscript was previously unknown, having been held in private collection since Sullivan gifted the manuscript to Dr. George Arndt, Sullivan's close friend and confidant, in whose family it has since remained. The Arndt manuscript is a third carbon copy, bound, with labels on the hardcover and spine written in Sullivan's hand, with his calling card adhered to the inner front cover. Within the pages are pencil and ink edits, correcting typos and formatting errors, few of which made it into later typed versions of the book. While the Arndt manuscript appears to have been completed in a close timeframe with the two carbon copies from 1908 (all three have similar binding, dimensions, and pages), the exact date is unknown. In comparing the handwritten edits in the dated copies and the Arndt manuscript, the latter has fewer typed revisions to the text and fewer handwritten edits, so it is likely a third draft completed in the same year.

    Democracy acts as a segue between his earlier Kindergarten Chats and his later Autobiography of an Idea, writings still used by architects and architectural historians today. It served as an experimental attempt at combining philosophical musings, poetry, and narrative into one grand statement on the virtues of democracy and the power of the individual. This manifesto postulates that since the dawn of consciousness, man has built society on the basis of a fear of that consciousness, which lead to a cycle in which civilizations "grew, decayed, and fell" -- demonstrating his fascination with cycles found in nature, inspired by Transcendentalist notions. With the Columbian Exposition serving as a catalyst, Sullivan became increasingly frustrated with what he perceived to be the failings of American society, evidenced by an increasing chasm separating rich from poor, an inadequate education system, and a corrupt political system, to name a few such concerns (Group II, Chapter 6). Of interesting note, Sullivan gifted Dr. Arndt's wife a copy of The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori, published in 1909, which further demonstrates his interest in alternative education philosophy. Motivated by his belief in embracing consciousness, rejecting fear, as well as individual power in aggregate, Sullivan outlines his solution for harnessing the latent power present in society to overhaul these systems and give birth to a better and stronger America.

    While Sullivan's writings have held a lesser place in consideration of his contributions to modern architecture and related theory, they are a form of expression that Sullivan contributed vast amounts of energy, time, and thought. Though his publications are few, they represent a broad and deep well of consideration for the subjects Sullivan cared most deeply about: individualism, innovation, and social progress. This manuscript remains a rare artifact, representing the practice and process of a major undertaking by one of this country's most influential architects and a celebrated thinker.

    Condition Report*: Wear and handling creases to the manuscript and ephemera indicative of age and use.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    16th Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,089

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 25 days left to consign to the 2020 March 13 Western Art Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I sent out several inquiries, but Moyun is the primary reason I went with Heritage. She is extremely knowledgeable.
    Linda H.,
    Washington, D.C.
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2014 November 21 Tiffany, Lalique & Art Glass Signature Auction
    2014 November 21 Tiffany, Lalique & Art Glass Signature Auction
    REALIZED $1,441,296
    2014 November 17 American Art Signature Auction
    2014 November 17 American Art Signature Auction
    REALIZED $6,712,638
    2014 November 14 American Indian Art , Pre-Columbian, & Tribal Art Signature Auction
    2014 Nov 14 American Indian Art, Pre-Columbian & Tribal Art Auction
    REALIZED $441,524
    2014 November 8 Modern & Contemporary Art Signature Auction
    2014 November 8 Modern & Contemporary Art Signature Auction
    REALIZED $5,683,719
    2014 November 6 Silver & Vertu Signature Auction
    2014 November 6 Silver & Vertu Signature Auction
    REALIZED $439,980
    2014 October 18 The Belo Collection of Texas Art Signature Auction
    2014 October 18 The Belo Collection of Texas Art Signature Auction
    REALIZED $624,835
    2014 October 16 Photographs Signature Auction
    2014 October 16 Photographs Signature Auction
    REALIZED $824,108
    2014 September 28 Nature & Science Signature Auction
    2014 September 28 Nature & Science Signature Auction
    REALIZED $1,089,341
    2014 Sept 13-14 Gentleman Collector Signature Estate Auction
    2014 Sept 13-14 Gentleman Collector Signature Estate Auction
    REALIZED $1,725,292
    2019 October 15 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 October 15 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $2,693,366