Triple Play in LA
Jackson's pocket map of the mining districts.
By Bruce McKinney
You can buy books, manuscripts and ephemera every day in LA but one week every two years the ABAA's west coast book fair comes to town and with it some of the most sophisticated and exotic printed materials available anywhere. It attracts dealers and collectors from across the country and around the world. This year two auction houses are adding fuel to the collecting fire as Dorothy Sloan Books auctions material on Wednesday February 15th and Bonhams & Butterfields conduct a sale on Sunday, February 19th. The ABAA Show runs three days: Friday February 17th through Sunday the 19th. This link will take you to the official show site, a full list of participating dealers and specifics as to hours and location.
Dorothy Sloan of Austin, Texas, is conducting three sales at Bel Age, the Grand Salon, on the second level, 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood CA 99069. Each one is relatively small and separately catalogued. They are: Auction 16 - "The World Rushed In": The California Gold Rush; Auction 17 "Voyages & Travels with an Emphasis on Captain Cook; and Auction 18 - Texas, California, the Southwest U.S., Mexico & the Borderlands: Interesting books, broadsides, maps & ephemera. Here are some items to consider:
Sale 16 is "The World Rushed In" covering all aspects of the California Gold. Spread among its 165 lots are numerous items of factual information and of fiction, items containing significant maps and iconography, broadsides, and items in rare bindings, such as wrappers and boards. For those who wish to own some real California gold actually dug up during the Gold Rush, Eckfeldt and Du Bois' New Varieties of Gold and Silver Coins, Counterfeit Coins, and Bullion; With Mint Values. (Philadelphia, 1850) will be of interest (Lot 55). This copy--in its original blue wrappers printed in gold--is estimated at $7,500-15,000. The coverage of the international aspect of the Gold rush is well represented, with early accounts from Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, and England. Perhaps the most unusual foreign item is a fine copy of the rare first edition of Joseph Heco's The Narrative of a Japanese; What He Has Seen and the People He Has Met in the Course of the Last Forty Years (Yokohama, 1895), in original cloth and estimated at $12,000-$18,000 (Lot 76). This book, accompanied by four of Heco's autograph letters signed, is the first published autobiography of a Japanese American, and the only account of the California Gold Rush by a Japanese.
Among the classics of humor on the gold mania are Bausmann's 1854 The Idle and Industrious Miner illustrated by Charles Nahl (Lot 7); J. Goldsborough Bruff's exceedingly rare rebus letter from 1856 lithographed in script and with phonic illustrations (Lot 16); A Good Natured Hint about California by Alfred Crowquill created in 1849 by Alfred Henry Forrester, editor of the English humor magazine Punch (Lot 64), and Read & Read's classic spoof on the Forty-Niners, Journey to the Gold Diggins by Jeremiah Saddlebags published in Cincinnati in 1849 (Lot 118). Illustrated humor on the Gold Rush is a strong collecting area, and classics like these are increasingly difficult to find.
Triple Play in LA
Dramatic Reverse Glass Painting of the Death of Cook [Sloan Auction 17]
Gold Rush maps, especially pocket maps, are well represented, such as Jackson's Map of the Mining Districts of California (1851), estimated at $10,000-20,000 (Lot 103) with the warning: "We could advise any one who is doing well at home, not to venture to California." Lot 65 features a map described by Wheat as the earliest European map to indicate the discovery of gold in California--the English map that appears in a British edition of Foster's book on the Gold Regions of California. For reasonable price and maximum historical impact, Lot 146, a fat 1850 U.S. government report on the gold discovery features an epochal map of the Gold Region ($1,000-2,000), which Ralph E. Ehrenberg describes as "the first map of large general circulation to announce to the world the epochal finds in the West which would now transform the life and society of that once-distant country."
Auction 17 contains 75 lots with interesting material such as Streeter copies of two Cook rarities. One is James Magra's A Journal of a Voyage Round the World, in His Majesty's Ship Endeavour, in the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, and 1771 [London, 1771], the first published account of Cook's very first circumnavigation estimated $30,000 to $60,000 [Lot 13]. The other is a rare and desirable early American imprint of Hawkesworth's account of Cook's first voyage, printed at New York in 1774 and with Paul Revere's engraving and an estimate of $10,000 to $20,000 [Lot 16]. Perhaps the most unusual item in Auction 17 is not a book at all--but rather, a highly interesting icon of Captain Cook, a dramatic reverse glass painting of the death of Captain Cook from the collection of Sir Maurice Holmes, the noted bibliographer and collector of Captain Cook. It's estimated $10,000 to $20,000 [Lot 37].
There is also a set of the three Cook Voyages. You'll need plenty of shelf space for the eleven volumes that comprise these bibliographically complex books. I asked Ms. Sloan for examples of condition rarities and she suggested this material which is estimated $30,000 to $60,000 [lot 12].
For those looking to make some progress building their Zamorano 80 collection there is a first edition of No. 49 La Perouse's Voyage, one of the great and rare voyages for California history (and many other parts of the world, for that matter). It is a beautiful example of eighteenth-century French printing and bookmaking. [5 vols.] Estimated $20,000 to $40,000.
There is also Zamorano No. 77, George Vancouver's A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and round the World; in Which the Coast of North-West America Has Been Carefully Examined and Accurately Surveyed. This is four vols. and printed in 1798. The estimate is $50,000 to $100,000. There are 19 other Zamorano firsts distributed through the sales.
Triple Play in LA
B & B's Whitman lot 1217 [Courtesy B&B]
Shifting to the Atlantic Ocean Ms. Sloan is offering a copy of what is arguably the most important 19th century voyage: Darwin, [King and Fitzroy's] Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle, between the Years 1826 and 1836, Describing their Examination of the Southern Shores of South America, and the Beagle's Circumnavigation of the Globe. London: Henry Colburn, 1839. 4 vols. This copy is offered with an estimate of $25,000 to $50,000.
In Sale 18 there are items on the American west. Here are some highlights:
ABERT, J. W. Abert's 1848 report on New Mexico, the W. J. Holliday copy signed and annotated by the author, with the 35 plates hand-colored. This report is among the earliest U.S. government publications on New Mexico, with the "first printed map of New Mexico made public by the War Department." Estimate: $25,000 to $50,000.
[MAP]. DAY, Sherman. Manuscript survey map on cartographical cloth of the former Mission San Fernando done in 1869. This is the first modern depiction of the area that became San Fernando and other important areas of modern-day Los Angeles. Estimate: $4,000 to $8,000
[MAP]. WHITE, GALLAHER & WHITE. Mapa de los Estados Unidos de Mejico...Nueva York (1828). Rare Wall map documenting the cartographical sequence resulting in the boundary dispute following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Precursor to the Disturnell Treaty map. Estimate: $7,500 to $15,000
PIKE, Z. M. An Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi and through the Western Parts of Louisiana, to the Sources of the Arkansaw.... Philadelphia: C. & A. Conrad, et al., 1810. Incredible copy, in original drab blue boards of the first U.S. government exploration of the Southwest. Estimate: $35,000 to $70,000
[SPANISH TEXAS]. Eighteenth-century manuscript plan of Los Adaes, former capital of Texas, the easternmost establishment in Spanish Texas, established in the eighteenth century to block French encroachment upon Spain's southwestern possessions. Historically important and aesthetically pleasing. Estimate: $6,000 to $12,000
This material will be on display at Bel Age, the Grand Salon Monday and Tuesday [February 13 and 14] and Wednesday until the auction begins.
On Friday the fair opens. There is always speculation whether it is better to arrive early or late. If early one gets to see all that is available. If one arrives late and the crowd has withheld its patronage some dealers will discuss price. I'm of the camp that both arrives early and discusses price. Great material, and there is always some, tends to sell quickly because many of the best minds in the field come to match memory and experience against the material arranged for sale.
Triple Play in LA
An amazing collection of aviation pioneer signatures [Courtesy B & B]
On Sunday as the show begins its final day, Bonhams & Butterfields, at 10:00 am, brings up the lights on their auction at 7601 Sunset Boulevard and via simulcast in San Francisco at 220 San Bruno Avenue. Bonhams catalogues efficiently and prints lavishly. Their presentation and material is a beautifully catalogued array that reflects the eclectic nature of Southern California. They are offering 302 lots under the title "Fine Books and Manuscripts" and the material runs the gamut from "an archive of correspondence from Gandhi to his brother and nephew" [lot 1287] estimated at $50,000 to $70,000 to a fascinating printed Illinois election document  dated 1844 and including notations about Abraham Lincoln estimated at $2,000 to $3,000. A sale this wide understandably also includes six lots of Marilyn Monroe material [1295-1300] one of which is a letter she wrote in 1947 to Twentieth Century Fox that is estimated $10,000 to $15,000. During all of 1946 she worked for RKO and was paid $7,150.
There is also a group of later editions of Leaves of Grass signed by Walt Whitman [W W] to B. G. Morrison of Karns City, Pennsylvania. This is lot 1218 and it's worth consideration. For those looking to add to their collection of John Steinbeck material or, who are attracted to material with civil rights interest, there is a two page letter dated July 22, 1964, from him to Martin Luther King expressing support and concern. This is lot 1203 and is estimated $15,000 to $20,000.
Now here is a question. What does it take to make a single sheet of paper from a spiral notebook with no date and no signature worth a great deal of money: the jottings of Albert Einstein as he worked through his unified field theory. This is lot 1042 and is estimated $15,000 to $20,000.
Here is one more. It's a card signed at the 1930 National Air Races at Chicago by nearly every major aviation figure of the day including: Orville Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Richard Byrd, Giuseppe Bellanca, Jimmy Doolittle, Georges Thenault, Hoot Gibson and nearly fifty others . If you would like to both start and complete a collection of aviation pioneer signatures you can buy this one piece and be about done. It is estimated $8,000 to $12,000.
By the end of Sunday as you start home by car or head to the airport you'll be thinking this was quite an experience.