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>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>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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