Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2006 Issue

Dawson Ephemera Auction September 29th

Jwg.111

An early map with a Bancroft connection.


By Bruce McKinney

Glen Dawson, the consummate bookman and bibliophile, has sent Part II of his collection of early Californiana and Los Angeles ephemera to auction to be parsed, savored and sold by Johns' Western Gallery on September 29th. The sale includes 99 items from the 1874-1879 period. Part I, comprising 100 lots brought $152,000 on December 2, 2005. The first sale was successful both for buyers and the seller as Mr. Dawson's decades long commitment to the collection of obscure early local materials was welcomed by a new generation of collectors who appreciated the rarity of both the material and the opportunity to acquire it. Lots in the first sale had low estimates and no reserves leaving bidders from around the state and across the country to fight it out for the privilege of taking home a prize. Most lots fell to a Southern Californian passing bids by phone to his attractive representative who systematically decapitated hopefuls with an upraised paddle that refused to fall.

In that sale Doug Johns, the proprietor and auctioneer, was content to let prices find their natural perches after starting at levels that let everyone present believe they would be carrying home boxes of gems for the price of a Big Mac. Alas it didn't work out that way as one buyer ate all the lunch.

This sale, the second of four projected, continues the deaccessioning in date order. The first sale included imprints issued between 1843 and 1873. This sale covers 1874 to 1879. The collection is the lifelong avocation of Glen Dawson and his connection adds significant cachet to the material. For collectors, who may not otherwise covet the material, the acquisition of one or two items for their Dawson provenance may prove irresistible. The numbering of the lots conforms to the yet-to-be published Bibliography of Southern California Imprints being prepared by Dr. Stuart Robinson. Thus there are occasional blanks.

Here then a few examples from the sale.

Lot 111. Diagram of the Scene of the Capture of Vasquez. Typographical map composed entirely of printers' ornaments, 24.6 x 33.9 cm. Supplement to the Los Angeles Star, Vol. XI, No. 21 (May 23, 1874). Est. $1,500/2,500

Lot 114. Tiburcio Vasquez, the Notorious Bandit. 9 x 6 cm, albumen-print carte de visite with 42 lines of printed text on verso. [Los Angeles, 1874.] Est. $500/800

Lot 138. By-laws of the California Wine-Growers' Association of Los Angeles, Incorporated March 20, 1875. 14 pp., 21.5 cm, printed wrappers, in cloth & leather case, fold-out photograph tipped in facing title page. Los Angeles: "Mirror" Book and Job Printing Establishment, Downey Block, Temple and Main Streets, 1875. Est. $1,000/1,500

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