Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

Valentine's Day: Collectors to take their wives and husbands to Pasadena?

548f55cd-1ef3-4940-b383-8ff9d12bdc9a

Highlight items from Bonhams' sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts

Serious book collectors may be in a bit of a conundrum this February. From what I’ve heard from my Dad Bruce, it’s pretty rare for there to be a book collecting couple. Usually, one person is the collector, while their partner wonders when the collection will be complete and the madness over. So for Valentine’s Day this year, collectors in relationships may have to make a choice, or do a lot of convincing, because the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair takes place the same weekend, February 12th through the 14th in Pasadena. And on top of that, Bonhams is hosting a sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts. With 173 lots of material ranging from the 12th century to the 20th, and several landmark lots, collectors may find themselves pitching the romantic elements of southern California to their significant others in order to attend the fair and the auction.

For a sale entitled Fine Books and Manuscripts, it’s a little ironic that the item with the highest estimate of the sale is not really a book or even printed. Dr. Kary Mullis’ 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (awarded for his invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction) is said item, and while it does come with his printed diploma, as well as a signed copy of Mullis’ Nobel lecture, typed letters signed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and five photographs, the Nobel medal itself, struck in 18 carat gold and plated in 24 carat gold, is the centerpiece of the lot. Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious in whichever category they are awarded, and when offered at auction, they do not come cheaply. This one is estimated $450,000 – 550,000.

However, there are indeed lots made up entirely of printed material available for sale. Lot 80, for example, is the first edition and first issue of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. The enormity of the impact of Darwin’s thinking and writing cannot be understated as he changed (most of) mankind’s perspective on natural history permanently. Darwin’s masterpiece is estimated $70,000 – 90,000.

Another equally famous first edition will also be for sale. Joyce’s Ulysses, widely regarded as one of, if not the most important work in modernist literature, and still universally read, studied and analyzed in higher education today, appears at auction not infrequently. However, first editions are significantly rarer, and presentation copies even more so. This copy is number 282 of 750, and bears Joyce’s inscription to Lewis Galantiere, an American translator of French literature, writer, playwright, and journalist. This is also the earliest known presentation copy of Ulysses after the one given to Nora Joyce on the day of publication. The inscription to Galantiere is dated nine days later. Ulysses is estimated $40,000 – 60,000.

The last item I want to highlight is a fine subscriber’s copy of McKenney and Hall’s seminal work History of the Indian Tribes of North America. This is material I have looked over myself, as my Dad Bruce is a former owner (his copy sold in his auction of The American Experience in 2010). Digital images of these prints, of which there are 120, do not do them justice, and I highly recommend previewing the auction in person either in San Francisco (Feb. 4th-6th) or in Pasadena (Feb. 11th-14th). In terms of native American content, McKenney and Hall are unsurpassed. This copy, lot 155, is estimated $40,000 – 60,000.

All 173 lots of the sale are viewable online on Bonhams' website. Bidding is available via the standard methods—live, phone, fax, internet. If you plan on bidding, please register here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions