The last gasp of pre-Code horror: 35mm color slide, undated, but probably November or December, 1954.
The Comics Code took effect in September, 1954, and the sole survivors of the crime & horror craze on display at this newsstand are gutless versions of Atlas’s MYSTERY TALES, Gleason’s CRIME DOES NOT PAY and Harvey’s CHAMBER OF CLUES (the previous 26 issues were titled CHAMBER OF CHILLS). EC comics are nowhere to be seen, with many vendors refusing to sell New Direction titles. Casper the Friendly Ghost haunts the comics rack, having wafted, wraithlike, from the corpse of Harvey’s horror line.
I’d love to hear from anyone who loved EC and other pre-Code horror and crime publishers back then. What did it feel like to shop the stands in the first few months after the Code was imposed? Fan-Addicts must’ve scanned the horror-free stands with a mounting sense of… well, horror.
The Jughead Annual on the top left seems to mock the woebegone EC fan… In this context it represents the triumph of squeaky-clean Archie Comics’ publisher, John Goldwater, over the momentarily vanquished Bill Gaines.
Little Lulu was created by Marjorie Henderson Buell in 1935. The character proved popular enough to win a spot selling Kleenex tissues in an elaborate animated billboard in Times Square, NYC, from 1952 to 1961. This image was scanned from the original negative.
Ivan Briggs, PBA’s Director of Comics, is the world’s foremost authority on vintage, original comic-related photos. If you have pre-1980 comic-related snapshots to consign or sell outright, contact: [email protected]
There’s good news and bad news on the Kurtzman front. The good news is, if my son’s Hey Look fanaticism is any indication, there’s a market for Kurtzman’s brilliant pre-Mad gag strip among our nations’ youth… The bad news is, a new version of the collected Hey Look isn’t likely anytime soon. I asked Kurtzman’s estate handler Denis Kitchen for news to share, and he told me this:
“It’s on hold till publishing gets back to normal. My Kitchen Sink Books partner John Lind and I have to discuss pending projects with Dark Horse when the time is right. 2020 looks dead and no one has a clue what 2021 will be like. The sales on our last couple of HK books (Complete Trump andJungle Book), though critically acclaimed, were disappointing so it’s possible that DH will discourage publication of Hey Look! If that’s the case we’ll look at a Kickstarter option I imagine.”
In the meantime, there’s the wonderful 1992 Kitchen Sink edition, sadly out-of-print (paperback copies typically fetch $40-60; the signed hardcover sells for about $150-200). Here are a few strips, originally printed in various Timely comics edited by a young Stan Lee in the mid-to-late 1940s. Denis Kitchen promises that his updated edition will be published in full color.
Greetings, comics cognoscenti! I’m Ivan Briggs, PBA’s resident comics man, and I’d like to kick things off by sharing a bit about myself and my comics-peddling background.
My dad was a first-generation comic book fiend. He remembered seeing the first issue of Action Comics on the stands in 1938 when he was five years old. He stared at the cover image of Superman hoisting a car over his head in breathless fascination… unfortunately, his mom didn’t share his enthusiasm for the garish pulpy tabloid, and refused to shell out a dime for the comic book! Dad’s frustration at missing out on that future million dollar mag sparked a lifelong interest in “funnybooks” (as his mom insisted on calling them).
Dad’s fave comics were Lev Gleason’s “Daredevil” and Will Eisner’s “The Spirit”. He even formed a small comics club called “The Daredevil Club” and tried to induce other kids in his neighborhood to sign up. Dad lived in the juncture of San Francisco’s North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods, an area especially rife with newsdealers, candy shops, drugstores and mom & pop shops, most of which had comic book racks laden with four-color treasures. He eventually amassed quite a nice collection… all of which his mom chucked into the dumpster when he was drafted into the Army during the Korean War!
Pop went to law school after the war ended and more or less forgot about comic books, except for MAD magazine, which he followed faithfully. Then, in the late 1960s, just around the time I was born, ZAP Comix #1 was released… and just like that, dad was hooked on comics again. Dad became a regular customer at Gary Arlington’s landmark comic book store, The San Francisco Comic Book Company. Pop gave Gary free legal advice and Gary send pop home laden with funnybooks, everything from undergrounds to Marvels, Warren mags, DCs, Charltons, Archies… I grew up surrounded by comics and they became my passion.
After college, I went to work at San Francisco’s Green Apple Books. Green Apple didn’t have a comics & graphic novels section at the time, but my boss, Richard Savoy, decided to gamble on my enthusiasm, and he allowed me to start a tiny comic book section, hidden away in the store beneath the main staircase. The tiny section took off like a rocket, and before long, Richard allowed me to expand the section. I developed an eager network of buyers and sellers and soon the comics section became Green Apple’s 3rd best-selling category (after art and fiction). I produced two catalogues for Green Apple, both of which have become collectors’ items of sorts (my EC, MAD and Pre-Code Horror catalogue can be found in PBA’s debut comic book auction as lot 166). Hoohah!
After Green Apple, I joined PBA Galleries at our old Kearny Street location in San Francisco. After paying my dues as a bookman, I hoped to launch a comic book department. Alas, PBA’s management of the time preferred not to go that route… The sum total of my comics work for PBA back then was a listing for an old Spidey comic in PBA’s August 15, 2002 Fine Books sale.
So I jumped ship and joined Bonhams Auctioneers book department, again hoping to pay my dues and launch a comics department. But the bigwigs at Bonhams had other ideas… They wanted me to sell fountain pens, so I stepped up to the plate and started marketing fine pens in a series of highly successful sales that took me from SF to London, Paris, Hong Kong, Geneva, Hamburg and beyond. I became the world authority on fine pens at auction, and loved every moment of it. But I was still determined to start a comic book department. Finally, Bonhams’ book department took in a collection of thousands of comics and asked me to put together a sale. I gladly did so, and the sale of Jack Gin’s silver age Marvel collection (part of Bonhams’ December 8, 2014 “Period Art & Design” auction) was a smash hit, with a dozen or so world record prices achieved. Now I would finally have my chance to start a comic book department! Or so I thought…
Despite the comic book sales’ wild success (with prices meeting or exceeding those achieved by Heritage for the same books in the same grades), Bonhams’ London-based management decided not to start a comics department, perhaps considering the category a bit too American – who knows? So after concluding a million-dollar pen sale for Bonhams, I rejoined PBA. PBA was under new management, and I’d heard lots of good things about the company’s direction. After meeting with PBA’s president, Sharon Gee, I knew that I’d finally found my proper place. And so here I am, happily restored to PBA, where I hope to bring you a series of comic book auctions for many years to come!
(Berkeley, California, April 14th, 2020) – PBA Galleries invites bidders to their inaugural online-only timed auction, available for bidding until lots begin to close on Thursday, April 16th at 11:00am Pacific Time. The sale features a collection of publications of the Book Club of California and other fine press books from the Robert Ebiner Collection. PBA’s next timed auction sale, Americana from the George E. Steinmetz Collection is also live and available for bidding until lots begin to close the following week on Thursday, April 23rd at 11:00am Pacific Time.
In accordance with Berkeley’s shelter-in-place restrictions, the auction will take place without an auctioneer calling the sale. This has commonly been referred to as an “eBay-style” auction. Each lot will be open for a defined time period and will close one minute after the preceding lot, allowing bidders to watch each lot as it closes (unless extended bidding has been triggered). Earlier bids are given priority in case of a tie.
“After a brief furlough, our small but mighty PBA staff is back at work via telework, in accordance with our public health order to shelter at home,” says PBA Galleries president Sharon Gee. “We are cataloging future auctions and will continue to offer timed auctions in the upcoming weeks.” PBA looks forward to continuing to serve clients who have been inquiring about future auctions, many of whom are enthusiastic about the new format. “The staff is also glad to be cataloging and interfacing with our consignors,” adds Gee.
Additional details regarding the logistics of bidding with a timed auction format are available on the PBA Galleries website. To protect the health and safety of PBA staff and customers, no in-person preview for the auction will be available.
“We appreciate your support during these trying and uncertain times,” says Gee.
PBA Galleries was founded under the name California Book Auction Galleries in 1955. After 35 years of successful book auctions, founder Maurice Powers passed away and his heirs placed the company into voluntary bankruptcy. Butterfield’s acquired the name and mailing list, but not the people or the spirit of the company. The current iteration of the company, Pacific Book Auction Galleries, was founded in 1992 by the core members of the original auction house, including current Senior Vice President Bruce MacMakin. The company changed its name to PBA Galleries in October of 2001 to reflect its increasingly global presence in the marketplace as well as its diversified offerings. We are proud to have buyers and sellers from all over the world participating in our auctions.
On March 26th, 2020, PBA Galleries will host their debut Comic Book Sale. Sale Director Ivan Briggs has assembled top tier overlooked gems in the world of comics, including rare or unique. The auction will feature EC, Kurtzman, Pre-Code Horror and Undergrounds, and a collection of silver age Marvels from a single owner who bought them off the stands in the 1960s. Over 340 lots span pre-Code horror comic books of the 1950s, Robert Crumb signed comics, signed prints, original comic art, and more.PBA Galleries is able to provide a distinct venue for these undervalued and underappreciated comic magazines and art.
Sale highlights include Weird Mysteries #5(CGC certified 7.5, one of the highest-graded copies). “Bernard Bailey’s cover epitomizes the pre-Code publishers’ ethos of “anything for a dime.” The sheer nerve and gall of it is staggering,” remarks Sale Director Ivan Briggs. “Lurid, distasteful, and unseemly: it’s everything one wants in a pre-Code mag.” The distinct cover depicts a mad scientist removing the brain from a severed head ($15,000-$20,000). Seven lots of material from the Estate of Harvey Kurtzman are headlined by Kurtzman’s original roughs to George Evans’s “Guynemer!”This extremely rare lot showcases seven pages of one of only seven surviving sets of Kurtzman vellum layouts. According to Briggs, “It’s an artistic seismograph, in which is recorded Kurtzman’s artistic process. It is quite unlike any other EC item currently on the market” ($5,000-$8,000).
The sale does not shy away from controversy by including the work of Robert Crumb, a legendary comic talent recently under fire for his edgy content. Examples of his work in this sale include printer Charles Plymell’s own copy of Zap #1. The book is documented by Plymell as one of the very first copies to roll off the press ($1,000-$1,500). Trina Robbins, first lady of the underground, has been critical of Crumb’s work for years. Her contribution to our sale, “Wonder Person Gets Knocked Up!” features a thinly-veiled Wonder Woman dealing with a recalcitrant boys’ club of super-sexists. PBA intentionally will spotlight both artists’ point-of-view, and the results of bidding on each lot will provide a thermometer for their place in the canon of modern collecting.
Other highlights include The Complete RAW Vol. 1 Limited Edition Boxed Set,a fine press edition of Art Spiegelman’s alternative commix anthology wonderfully bound in buckram and morocco in a special solander box with recessed cavities to hold additional material. This copy is one of ten copies from the Optics Press ($2,000-$3,000). EC’s rarest comic book, Shock Illustrated,will be available in one of 100 copies hand-collated and stapled by the EC staff in order to satisfy subscriber orders. The remainder of the 250,000 print run was pulped, as the publisher lacked funds to have them bound ($2,000-$3,000). A high-grade copy of the Amazing Spider-Man #14(1st Green Goblin)represents the debut of Spider-Man’s archfoe, scripted by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko ($3,000-$5,000).
Auction previews are available by appointment. PBA is accepting consignments in pre-Code horror, golden age, silver age, platinum age, key internationals and R. Crumb, as well as original art and comic-related ephemera (including vintage comic-related photos). Contact [email protected] to inquire.
An internationally significant private collection of early photography will be auctioned by PBA Galleries on Thursday, March 5, 2020.
The collection was amassed by Dr. Robert Enteen while living in Paris and other major European cities. It includes an estimated 10,000 photographs, photo-books, and ephemera.
The earliest items date from 1839, the dawn of photography, to 1939, spanning the medium’s first century. Photography originated in France and England, but the technology spread quickly throughout the globe. The collection includes original works by numerous luminaries, including Fox Talbot, Charles Negré, Charles Marville, Edouard Baldus, Matthew Brady, Timothy O´Sullivan, William Henry Jackson, Eadweard Muybridge, Edward Curtis, Félix Nadar, Félix Bonfils, Francis Frith, Fratelli Alinari, Julia Margaret Cameron, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Eugene Atget, Man Ray, André Kertesz, Kimbei Kusakabe, Lewis Hine, Karl Blossfeldt, and others.
The Journal of the French Academy of Sciences announced the new medium in 1839. This announcement is among the many high points in the collection, which also includes paper negatives; one of only four known examples of the earliest paper photograph of Charles Darwin (1854); an album of over 100 photographs of a tsarist estate in Russia c. 1895; an extremely rare first edition, first issue of Man Ray’s first book of photos; and the only known complete set of Yellowstone Albertypes taken by William Henry Jackson, which influenced the US Congress to designate Yellowstone the first national park in the world.
According to the collection’s owner, Robert Enteen: “The photographs in this museum-quality collection are notable not only because there are many exquisite images, but also because they have historical significance. One can see transitions in photographic technology, materials, and styles, as well as the medium’s enormous influence in medicine and science, the arts, politics, education, travel and ethnology, history, architecture, religion, and other fields of human endeavor.”
Dr. Enteen, originally from New York City, has been collecting antiques, rare books and prints for over 50 years. His photography collection began at a flea market in Paris in 2013, when he acquired a large group of early photographs by Adolphe Braun. Subsequently, he added to his growing collection in Italy, Spain, Germany, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. He has intensively studied the field of early photography, which helped him curate this comprehensive collection.
Bruce MacMakin, Executive Vice President of PBA Galleries, notes: “The Enteen Collection is among the largest private collections of early photography ever placed in auction. It includes European, American, Asian and African works by most of the great photographers. In my experience, it comes closest to an American version of Sotheby’s celebrated Paris auction of the Thérèse and André Jammes collection.”
The sale will begin at 11:00 am Pacific Time and the public may preview the auction on Monday, March 2nd from 1:00-5:00pm, Tuesday, March 3rd and Wednesday, March 4th from 9:00am-5:00pm, or Thursday, March 5th from 9:00am-5:00pm. For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].
PBA Galleries invites bidders to join them on Thursday, February 20th at 11:00am for a sale of Rare Americana & Cartography, with the Robert M. Ebiner Zamorano 80 Collection. The auction will feature over 500 lots of rare and historically significant material on the Americas, ranging from cornerstones of California history to cartographic delineation of twentieth century development, with books, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, maps, and atlases. Included is the Robert M. Ebiner Zamorano 80 Collection, a selection of key books in a library of California; a range of books on or by presidents of the United States; books, pamphlets, maps and historical atlases on California local history, and that of other states; and much more.
19th-century maps, rare books, and ephemera feature prominently in the auction. In a rare, apparently unrecorded issue of John Melish’s 1818 map of the United States, Illinois is properly abutting Lake Michigan, not connected by a rectangular offset of land as with other known copies ($3,000-$5,000). A Black Hills expense report for telegraph usage signed by George Armstrong Custer is dated “Bismarck, Dakota Territory, 1875.” The report is countersigned by the telegraph operator who would later break the news to the world of Custer’s death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn ($6,000-$9,000). A first edition of Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (1840) will be offered in the first edition, first issue. The exceptional copy is in the preferred tan muslin binding and expertly rebacked with the original spine strip employed ($5,000-$8,000). From 1881, a handwritten letter from Tombstone dates to just two months after the gunfight at OK Corral. The note from Tombstone Justice of the Peace Mike Grey is addressed to James W. Denver, of the eponymous city. Grey asks that he mention to “proper authorities” the importance of establishing a military post along the Mexican border where Arizona and New Mexico meet ($1,500-$2,500).
In Californiana, Francisco Paloú’s Relacion Historica de la Vida Y Apostolicas Tareas of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions, has been called the “most extensive early work on upper California. PBA will offer a fine 1787 first edition in the original full vellum ($10,000-$15,000). From the 20th century, a rare folding bird’s-eye view of Los Angeles is presented in Los Angeles 1909. The spectacular street map of the sprawling city and the surrounding area is in the original paper wrappers ($2,000-$3,000).
Early American ephemera and artwork are well-represented in the sale. A rare printed broadside proclamation issued by John Adams (1799) marks the period of a rampant yellow fever plague, calling for a “day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer” ($4,000-$6,000). A collection of 119 patriotic envelopes from the Civil War feature captivating illustrations. Some of the envelopes are printed in color, and all display compelling graphic propaganda for the Union cause ($3,000-$5,000). A rare lithograph of the Declaration of Independence in calligraphy by William H. Pratt was designed to form a portrait of George Washington. The portrait was lithographed by August Hagenboeck in Davenport, Iowa in 1865 ($5,000-$8,000). The sale will begin at 11:00 am Pacific Time and the public may preview the auction in Berkeley at PBA Galleries (605 Addison Street, Berkeley, California) on Tuesday, February 18th or Wednesday, February 19th from 9:00am-5:00pm and Thursday, February 20th from 9:00am-11:00am. For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].
PBA Galleries invites bidders to join them for a special sale on Thursday, February 6th at 10:00am. The sale will take place just prior to the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America) Book Fair in Pasadena, California. The sale will be held in the Piazza Ballroom of the Pasadena Sheraton (303 East Cordova Street), just next door to the Pasadena Convention Center and the 53rd California International Antiquarian Book Fair.
The first half of the auction will be devoted to books donated by ABAA members to benefit the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Benevolent Fund, which was established to support all booksellers in times of distress. The descriptions of the books are by the donor members, and we have worked with them to set fair estimates for the wide range of fine material. In the second part of the sale, PBA will offer Rare Books & Manuscripts. During both parts of the sale, bidders will have access to our usual full provisions for absentee, online, and phone bidding.
In both parts of the sale, noteworthy editions of works by historically influential authors will be on offer. Standouts include the 1860 second edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in the original cloth, a rare version of what remains one of the most important scientific works of the 19th century ($10,000-$15,000). In psychology, no figure looms as large as Sigmund Freud: The auction features an autograph letter signed by Freud to a colleague. The letter is about a prospective female patient who he deemed not suitable for psychoanalysis. Instead, Freud recommends that the patient contact Carl Jung, Freud’s one-time disciple but later rival ($10,000-$15,000). Other noteworthy letters in the auction include PBA’s rare letter from inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla to photographer William Schley, about a photograph to be taken of an “apparatus.” The letter was written in 1896, the year Tesla harnessed the power of Niagara Falls ($10,000-$15,000).
Travel histories, illustrations, and photography abounds, representing the best of Californiana and beyond. In conjunction with the sale’s location in Southern California, PBA will offer W.W. Elliott’s rare History of San Bernardino County with a section on San Diego county. The tome contains 88 lithographed plates of views, some double-page, and including a striking bird’s-eye view of the Redlands colony ($6,000-$8,000). Across the map, Francis Firth’s Sinai and Palestine features 37 original mounted albumen photographs of Sinai and Palestine, with superb views of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Damascus, Gaza, the Sinai peninsula, and more. This rare set is in the twelve original parts with the original wrappers, and is considered the “best edition” published by William Mackenzie in 1862 ($8,000-$12,000). Likewise, David Roberts’ great illustrated work Egypt and Nubia from Drawings Made on the Spot exhibits 121 superb lithographs printed by Louis Haghe. The three volumes in two (1846-49) are bound in full red morocco and elaborately tooled in gilt ($40,000-$60,000).
Other highlights include a rare album of 46 large original albumen photographs by Isaiah W. Taber, which were assembled for advertising and marketing his studio. The photographs encompass views of his studio and various scenes from San Francisco and the Bay Area, Yosemite, Carmel, Santa Barbara, and more ($80,000-$120,000). From the early modern period, a suite of 24 hand-colored large format mezzotint plates by John Martin were created to illustrate the 1827 two-volume edition of John Milton’s Paradise Lost published by Septimus Prowett. The plates were bound in full navy-blue levant morocco tooled in gilt, a stunning presentation ($15,000-$25,000). Noteworthy letters include a rare original letter from Pierre Toussaint, a one-time slave from Haiti, who emigrated to New York with his master after the Revolution and became a hairdresser to high-society ladies. He helped found a Catholic orphanage and has been beatified and proposed for canonization as the first African-American male saint ($5,000-$8,000).
The sale will begin at 10:00 am Pacific Time and the public may preview the auction in Berkeley at PBA Galleries (605 Addison Street, Berkeley, California) on Monday, February 3rd and Tuesday, February 4th from 9:00am-5:00pm. They may also preview the sale in Pasadena at the Pasadena Sheraton Piazza Ballroom on Thursday, February 6th from 8:00am-10:00am. For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].
It will be magical on January 9th with PBA Galleries’ sale of Art & Illustration – Occult & Hermeticism. The sale will present significant works on magic, Freemasonry, and Rosicrucianism from the Matteo Family Library of the Occult. Beginning the auction will be a section of original art, prints from Old Masters to Hundertwasser, rock posters, and the art of the underground.
Occult standouts include the 1st American edition of Eliphas Levy’s The History of Magic, translated by Arthur Edward Waite. Levy, a French occult author, socialist, and ceremonial magician, remains best known for his profound influence on the history of hermeticism. His famous followers include Aleister Crowley, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Helen Blavatsky, and more. ($1,200-$1,800). The history of Freemasonry is well-represented by Albert G. Mackey and William R. Singleton’s eponymous title (1906). Both Mackey and Singleton were of the 33rdDegree of the Scottish Rite, a title which cannot be asked for and if asked for, never conferred. This handsomely bound full set is therefore a history of the order from some of its most highly regarded members ($700-$1,000). PBA will also offer The Grand Grimoire (2004), one of 10 signed and hand-bound by the late publisher of Trident Books, James Banner. Also known as Le Dragon Rouge (The Red Dragon), this book contains instructions on summoning Lucifer for the purpose of forming a deal with the devil.
Historically significant lithographs, oil paintings, woodblock prints, and more make up a diverse artist catalogue. Signed works abound, most notably Salvador Dali’s limited edition artist’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which features his signature on the title page and an original frontispiece etching. An additional lot, The Alice in Wonderland Lithographs, is a suite of four color plates featuring Dali’s signature on each lithograph ($4,000-$6,000 each). Other coveted signatures include artist August Friedrich Schenck’s on each of his two oil paintings. The untitled painting also includes an archive of autographed letters by Schenck to Mrs. B.B. Tuttle, receipts for his paintings purchased, and an additional set of period press clippings with an obituary of the artist ($3,000-$5,000). Five lots of woodblock prints by Friedensreich Hundertwasser also feature signatures on each and appear in limited editions: “Die Mauer” [The Wall] is 1 of 210 ($2,500-$3,500) and “Korallenblumen” [Coral Flowers] is 1 of 350 ($3,000-$5,000).
Other rare works of art include a drawing by Current 93 musician, poet and outsider artist, David Tibet, which is an illustration from Australian fairy tale series Hobyahs Creep Creep Creep ($700-$1,000). On the auction block will also be two etchings ca. 1630 from master printmaker from Alsace, Jacques Callot. PBA anticipates enthusiastic bidding on both of his Parisian scenes, Vue du Louvre and Vue du Pont Neuf ($2,000-$3,000 each).
The sale will begin at 11:00 am Pacific Time and the public may preview the auction on Monday, January 6th from 1:00-5:00pm, Tuesday, January 7thand Wednesday, January 8th from 9:00am-5:00pm, or Thursday, January 9th from 9:00am-5:00pm. For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].