2018 Starts with Strong Literature Sales


PBA Galleries started 2018 off strongly with their first sale of the year on January 11th. The sale offered over 700 lots of important literature spanning four centuries, with additional fine books in a variety of fields including finely bound books, fine press books, miniature books and the poetry collection of Larry Rafferty, featuring numerous key works by some of the most important figures in twentieth century poetry, many of them signed or inscribed by the authors.

Highlighting the sale was a first edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden: Or, Life in the Woods, one of the landmarks in American letters, which sold for $14,400 nearly twice the presale high estimate. This copy in the original blind-stamped brown cloth with the wood-engraved vignette on the title-page and illustrated with a map of Walden Pond is one of only 2000 copies of the first edition printed.

Of Mice and Men

Prices for works by John Steinbeck were robust led by Of Mice and Men, a first issue in the original pictorial dust jacket in fine condition, which sold for $4,800 well over the presale high estimate. Other titles outperforming the estimates include Sweet Thursday, The Pearl, and Once There Was a War. The Log from the Sea of Cortez, although a second edition, was the first separate issue of the “Log’ portion of Sea of Cortez also sold for over the high estimate.

Mark Twain’s works drew much interest and spirited bidding. A fine copy of an early state of the First American Edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sold for $7,200 over twice the presale high estimate. This copy of the quintessential classic of 19th century American literature was a fine and bright copy with only minor wear to the binding, amongst the nicest PBA has seen. The First English Edition of the book also sold for above estimates. Other early editions of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson And the Comedy Those Extraordinary Twins, Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old, and Roughing It outperformed expectations.

The Poetry Collection of Larry Rafferty generated much interest before the sale. Bidders were attracted by the freshness of the material on offer which translated into brisk sales. Leading the way in the poetry section was a copy #1 of North Haven. In Memoriam Robert Lowell, a scarce broadside signed by Elizabeth Bishop selling for three and a half times the high estimate. The lot also included printer’s proofs and mockups. A rare, inscribed copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and a limited edition of Robert Creeley’s poem, Pictures, with lithographs by American pop artist, Jim Dine, also performed well.

The Jungle Book & The Second Jungle Book

Two Rudyard Kipling works, a lot containing first editions of both The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, and, one of the 19th century’s great novels, Captains Courageous outsold their estimates. Other books that inspired movies, such as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The African Queen attracted strong bidding.

Lastly, the miniature books in the sale produced lively bidding and a very high sale rate with nearly 95% of the lots selling. Tops sellers in this section included a large collection from Kitemaug Press featuring 72 miniatures from Frank Anderson spanning nearly 40 years and a collection of antiquarian mostly religious small volumes.

PBA Galleries holds sales of fine, rare and collectible books every two weeks. For more information regarding upcoming sales, consignments, or auction results, please contact PBA Galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].