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>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>The Railroad,</i> etching, 1922. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Sheet of Studies with Men in Hats and a Saloon Keeper,</i> pen, ink & pencil, circa 1900-05. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Night Shadows,</i> etching, 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> John Marin, <i>Woolworth Building, No. 2,</i> etching & drypoint, 1913. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Charles Demuth, <i>Tulips,</i> watercolor & pencil, 1924. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Under Control,</i> gouache, ink & wash, circa 1907-10. $30,000 to $50,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JESSE JAMES. Autograph Letter Signed on the attack at his home which maimed his mother and killed his nephew Archie, 6 pp, March 23, 1875. THE MOST IMPORTANT JESSE JAMES LETTER EXTANT. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> THE LETTER THAT ARRIVED TOO LATE: An important letter from Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant across the battlefield at Cold Harbor, June 6, 1864. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> DAVY CROCKETT. Autograph Letter Signed on his political philosophy and his dispute with Andrew Jackson, "at home Weakley County," August 18, 1831. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> GEORGE WASHINGTON. Letter Signed to Colonel Richard Gridley, the first engineer of the American Army, Morris Town, January 9, 1777. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> SCOTT FITZGERALD. <i>Tender is the Night.</i> FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED to H.A. Swanseid. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS. <i>Tarzan of the Apes.</i> FIRST EDITION. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> J.R.R. TOLKIEN. <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.</i> FIRST EDITION. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NATHANAEL WEST. <i>The Day of the Locust.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed to director Richard Wallace in the year of publication. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> FRANCIS PICABIA. Archive of 17 Autograph Letters signed to Jennie Thiersch on art and life, 1948-1951. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JOHN HANCOCK. Autograph Letter Signed to his wife Dolly from the Continental Congress, 4 pp, Philadelphia, March 10-11, 1777. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NIGHTGOWN WORN BY CHARLOTTE CARDEZA DURING THE TITANIC DISASTER AND RESCUE. $40,000 to $60,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions