Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2008 Issue

The Volkmann Collection Concludes with a Sale May 8th

Dvolk1


By Bruce McKinney

On May 8th, the third and final portion of the Daniel G. Volkmann, Jr. Collection of rare and collectible printed material will pass before the gaze of dealers and collectors and under the hammer of PBA Galleries. This sale brings to a close the long collecting career of Mr. Volkmann who joined the fray in 1969, entering right as his Mother exited left. It was upon her death, upon inheriting her collection that he assumed the burden, responsibity and pleasure of completing what she began: the acquisition of a complete collection of the Zamorano 80, building an extensive collection of Californiana and assembling an unusally complete collection of California press books. In this, the final sale, the dispersal of 448 lots of what is an extensive collection of California press books along with a few items unsold from previous sales and other items retained as personal favorites, the curtain falls and the chapter closes on the career of an inveterate collector.

Mr. Volkmann, an architect by trade, has perhaps built his most imposing edifice in the ephemeral, even ethereal construction of his collections. Together they are an imposing mass, most pieces from previous sales already flown to dealers, libraries and collectors. This, the final part, no doubt will travel the same path, the pieces to reemerge as the "Volkmann copy" one at a time in dealer catalogues, in libraries, at shows and in auctions far into the future. Those who collect books may hope for immortality only to be judged and dismissed. The Volkmann material will make the cut and be remembered for the solid, workman-like approach, employed over thirty-eight years.

In previous sales [2003 and 2005] some reserves were set toward the high side. Mr. Volkmann had more time and patience then for an unsatisfactory outcome. If material did not sell it was "So be it. There will be another day." Bruce McMakin, senior vice president of PBA explained, "In this sale there has been an effort to establish attractive estimates and Mr. Volkmann has agreed that fully ninety percent of the lots will change hands so long as the bid reaches at least half the low estimate." The material, long held, is clearly now intended to be dispersed. For collectors this presents opportunities.

The following items have been identified by PBA as significant, collectible and in some cases potentially inexpensive enough to be accessible to the fledgling collector:

Lot 118. Adams, Ansel Easton. Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras. Printed in San Francisco in 1927 by Jean Chambers Moore.

18 unsigned photographs, 8x6.25; or the reverse, with letterpress captions beneath on sheets measuring approximately 12x9.75, each loose in an individual folio with letterpress title; together with the printed title page, colophon, dedication to Albert M. Bender and plate list. Housed in a restored silk-lined portfolio of black cloth (original front cloth retained but not used in restoration of portfolio). One of a projected edition of 150 copies of which approximately 75 copies were completed. All letterpress printed by the Grabhorn Press. Individual prints unsigned but the portfolio signed by Adams in 1980 on dedication leaf. "[Adams] made all the Parmelian prints on Kodak Vitava Athena Grade T Parchment, a cream-colored, gelatin silver paper that is translucent when held up to the light ... Although Ansel later remembered that he completed about a hundred sets, some were destroyed in a warehouse fire, leaving approximately seventy-five that were sold and delivered" (Ansel Adams: A Biography, pp 60-2). Robert Cahn, writing for Sierra Magazine, offers: "Adams" photographic career took a quantum leap in 1926 when Albert Bender, an enterprising San Francisco friend of the wealthy and of artists, "Discovered" Adams' photographs and decided they should be published. Bender selected a group of the prints and contacted a prominent San Francisco publisher who agreed to produce the portfolios...In a few hours, Bender had sold 56 copies sight unseen, and Adams' first published work...was on its way." GB 95. Estimated $50,000 to $80,000.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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