Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2009 Issue

A library of Hawaii and the South Pacific to be Sold

Hawaii

Hawaii, a specialist's collection


By Bruce McKinney

Bonhams & Butterfields recently posted an anonymous single owner sale of material on Hawaii and the South Pacific and scheduled it for April 6th. It will be conducted simultaneously in San Francisco and New York. For those with an interest in this area it warrants consideration. The consignor, with the subject in clear view, for twenty-five years let his gaze broaden to include an unusually tactile group of objects that connect the roughly 150 book lots with another 100 pamphlets, objects, framed and frame-able material. Among the materials offered are, by type: pamphlets, maps, engravings, books, coins & medals, globes, newspapers & magazines, autographed letters [ALS], art, ephemera, broadsides, photographs and a flag. There is an appealing obsessiveness to the collection and a sense it was fun to acquire.

Such collections today are increasingly easy, although never really easy, to build, but when this collection was under development it was certainly difficult. The collector, [whose name has been withheld and with whom I did not speak], according to Catherine Williamson, director of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Bonhams & Butterfield in Los Angeles, used all logical means by which to acquire: visiting book dealers, reading catalogues, attending shows, buying at auction and employing scouts. The outcome is a collection that both the collector and causal observer can appreciate. It helps of course that the subject is attractive and has been a collector focus for decades.

The presentation, befitting a collection that is strong on images and visually attractive material, has the look of a fine retail catalogue. Many auction houses convey information without transmitting enthusiasm. In this presentation enthusiasm is evident.

The books and sets, of which there are many, can be thoroughly compared with the historical and auction records in AE's primary database. The ephemera is more difficult to calculate. Unique material, sometimes even when less than perfect, tends to command substantial premiums. Unbound materials tend to be rarer than bound, single sheets [broadsides] more difficult to obtain than pamphlets. One of a kind objects are often worth a few more bids. You won't see them again except in your mind's eye on sleepless nights.

The miniature globes [lots 3026, 3148 and 3162], of which there are three, if you buy one or all, they are going to be endlessly examined. If you are thinking about displaying images bid for some of the loose examples rather than for a book or set of images. There is a special place in hell reserved for those who remove images from sets but if someone else had done it you are safe in the after-life [at least with respect to this issue]. Single images cost relatively more but you get to choose without guilt.

The flag of Hawaii, lot 3176, is a very appealing. Lot 3179 is "Archive of Letters, Maps, Sketches and Artifacts of the 19th Century" material collected by American Seaman Abel Huntington. It includes his observations, two sketches, a map and a canon ball. By the pound this may be the least expensive lot.

When I asked Ms. Williamson to point out material she brought my attention to lot 3079. It's listed as [Leverian Museum] and credited to George Shaw. It is a book containing selected specimens from the Museum of Sir Ashton Lever, an oh-so-serious collector. It contains 48 coloured plates. More were later published but this example is very attractive.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Verlag, Luzern, Publishers: <i>The Book of Kells,</i> the most precious illuminated manuscript of the early Middle Ages, now reproduced, the FIRST AND ONLY COMPLETE FINE ART FACSIMILE EDITION. €5,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone,</i> 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1997, First Deluxe Edn., Signed by the Author on title page. €4,000 to €5,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Gilbert (John T.) Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, from the earliest extant specimens to A.D. 719. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> <i>The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth-Century Domestic Architecture in Dublin [-Ireland],</i> 5 vols. lg. 4to D. 1909 - 1913. Limited Editions. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (W.B.) <i>The Poems of W.B. Yeats,</i> 2 vols., roy 8vo, L. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949, Limited Edn., No. 185 (of 375 copies). Signed. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Crone (John S.)ed. <i>The Irish Book Lover, A Monthly Review of Irish Literature and Bibliography.</i> Vol. I No 1 August 1909 - Vol. XXXII No. 6, September 1957. €1,250 to €2,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (John Butler) <i>An original self-portrait Sketch,</i> Signed and dated April 1919, N[ew] York. €1,200 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Photograph Album. Entitled ''A Souvenir of the Visit to Jeypore Samasthanam of His Excellency the Right Hon'ble Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst… 14th December 1927''. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Pistolesi (Erasmo) <i>Il Vaticano,</i> 8vols. large atlas, folio Rome (Tipografia della Societa..) 1829. €500 to €600.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Chagall (Marc)illus., Legmarie (Jean) comp., <i>The Jerusalem Windows,</i> folio N.Y. (George Braziller) 1962. €400 to €500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Bullitt (Thos. W.) <i>My Life at Oxmoor,</i> Life on a Farm in Kentucky before the War. Roy 8vo Louisville, Kentucky, 1911. Privately Printed No. 86 of 100 Copies Only. €300 to €400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Popish Plot: Oates (Titus) <i>The Popes Whore House or The Merchandise of The Whore of Rome,</i> folio L. 1679. First Edn. €100 to €150.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Frederick Douglass, ALS recruiting help for his paper after schism with Garrison, Rochester, 1851. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> James Dean, photograph by Sanford H. Roth, signed & inscribed by Dean. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Richard Wagner, ALS requesting confirmation that the Grand Duke received his letter, 1863. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Benjamin Rush, ALS, doctor’s note for a Revolutionary soldier, 1780. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Lord Byron, ALS to Cambridge classmate, “your friendship is of more account to me than all these absurd vanities,” c. 1812. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author’s first book, Paris, 1923. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ralph Ellison, <i>Invisible Man,</i> first English edition of the author’s first novel, signed, London, 1953. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Margery Lawrence, <i>The Madonna of Seven Moons,</i> first edition in unrestored dust jacket, Indianapolis, 1933. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Joseph Albers, <i>Interaction of Color,</i> 80 color screenprints, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1963. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Albert Einstein, autograph manuscript, unsigned, likely a draft discarded while working toward a unified field theory. $10,000 to $20,000.

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