Rare Book Monthly
Articles - February - 2005 Issue
Exceptional Americana on the Block February 16th
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 . 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.