Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2005 Issue

Exceptional Americana on the Block February 16th

Sloan21

The Second Volkmann Sale


By Bruce McKinney

Dorothy Sloan, auctioneer and cataloguer extraordaire, will conduct two interesting western Americana sales in San Francisco on Wednesday, February 16th, at the Society of California Pioneers, 300 Fourth Street at Folsom [94107]. Sale 14, a selection of 64 important lots will begin promptly at 1:30 pm. Sale 15, the second part of the Daniel Volkmann collection dispersal, containing 225 lots, commences at 3:00 pm. Ms. Sloan's approach to pricing is very clear cut. She sets a low and high estimate for each lot. The low estimate roughly equates to wholesale valuation and the high estimate to retail. She accepts no bids below the low estimate and no offers for unsold lots after the sale. As in gunfights you get no chance to reload. Pre-sale examination is available Sunday, February 13th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday February 14th from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm, Tuesday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, and Wednesday from 9:00 am until noon.

Sale 14 is simply titled Americana. The aggregate high estimate is $423,000 and the low estimate $215,500. This suggests that Ms. Sloan believes the cash value of premium books at retail is about twice what a dealer may pay for stock. The presence or absence of collectors may well determine how close to retail valuation these books achieve. To make collectors comfortable Ms. Sloan goes to extraordinary lengths to document the importance, rarity and provenance of the material she handles. In doing this she does what dealers usually do to prepare an item for sale. They engage in extensive research to unearth information that makes the book, map or document more appealing. The best dealers are also the great researchers and are often exceptional writers who convey the history and excitement of a piece to induce a collector to trade cash for a treasure. Ms. Sloan herself brings the highest dealer standards for documentation to the auction field. At her sale of Zamorano material two years ago, at the same location, it was collectors, often with the expert help of dealers, who bought the important material and made the sale a notable success.

These two sales will be interesting as an indication of the health of the market.

Here are some interesting items from these two sales. All full lot descriptions are searchable in the AE database of upcoming auctions and on the Sloan website: http://www.sloanrarebooks.com. Of course Ms. Sloan always prepares exceptional catalogues that themselves become important bibliographical references. Call to order the catalogues: 512 477-8442.

Sale 14 is AMERICANA with an emphasis on the Southwest & the Borderlands, especially Texas, California, and Mexico. The type of material offered includes rare books, manuscripts, autograph letters, maps, atlases, broadsides, and ephemera.

Lot 31. [MAP: CALIFORNIA]. VINCENT. Map of the State of California... 1860. With panorama of San Francisco and Contra Costa. Engraved map with contemporary color. Pocket map with original covers. Provenance: Eberstadt-Streeter-Howell. Wheat, Gold Region 317. ($4,000-8,000) Collecting visual material has become very important over the past 20 years.

Lots 59 and 60 are copies of Miguel Venegas' history of California. The first is in Spanish and the second is in English. Both are first editions. A serious collector of California will want both.

Sale 15 is The Daniel G. Volkmann Jr. Collection of Rare CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO & THE WEST: Rare Books, Maps, Broadsides, Letter Sheets, and Ephemera. This is a wonderful assortment of material that is generally priced low and is absolutely red meat for western Americana collectors. So many lots are reasonably estimated that buyers are going to have a hard time knowing how to allocate their bids. Here are a few.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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