Fine Literature on October 10th

On Thursday, October 10th, PBA Galleries will offer an auction of Fine Literature. The auction will feature over 500 lots of fine literature and poetry from the 20th century and earlier. The sale features some truly rare and unique material relating to Charles Bukowski, a nice selection of Raymond Carver rarities, and a number of scarce and important works by Ernest Hemingway,  Jack London, Thorne Smith, John Steinbeck, and other perennially collectible authors of the 20th century. Also featured is a comprehensive section of the works of H.G. Wells with a number of inscribed and signed volumes.

Large archive of Ray Bradbury papers and photographs

Rare Charles Bukowski materials will be on the auction block, including a nine-page manuscript letter from Jane Cooney Baker, Bukowski’s early muse. Currently, this letter is the only known surviving piece of correspondence from the mysterious Baker, Bukowski’s early love and the model for Fay Dunaway’s character in the film Barfly. Up for bidding is a nine-page letter written to her family in which she touches upon her relationship with Bukowski, among other aspects of her life, of which little biographical material has been available ($3,000-$5,000). Bukowski devotees will also compete for three hours of unreleased Bukowski interview footage in 1983, filmed for an interview with Cosmopolitan International Magazine. In this unedited footage, Bukowski fields questions from photographer Michael Montfort and interviewer Frances Schoenberger over many bottles of wine. The vast majority of the footage has not been released to the public ($5,000-$8,000).

Canonical literary heavyweights of the 20th-century Western canon are well-represented. Iron Heel, Jack London’s chilling dystopian novel of a fascist dictatorship in the United States, will be offered by PBA in its very rare original dust jacket ($5,000-$8,000). In personal archives, Ray Bradbury’s large collection stands out: The lot’s papers include many hundreds of drafts, contracts, letters, signed photographs, promo materials, and other miscellaneous papers ($800,-$1,00).

Shakespeare and Company – Inscribed by Sylvia Beach

The bulk of the auction presents 19th and 20th-century literary history with exceptional highlights, such as a first American edition of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine ($1,000-$1,500). Spirited bidding is expected for the two page signed holograph letter by Willa Cather written to Mr. Harry Hansen, Literary Editor for the New York World, regarding a review of Death Comes for the Archbishop ($1,000-$1,500). Valuable history is preserved in the six printing plates from City Light Books publications, including the 17th printing of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and works from Bob Kaufman and David Meltzer ($700-$1,000). 

Other particularly exciting gems include a first edition of Thorne Smith’s most famous book, Topper, which was made into the 1937 Cary Grant film. The first edition is inscribed by Thorne Smith and in its original dust jacket ($2,000-$3,000). In popular literature, PBA will offer a first edition, first issue with all the first points (and first issue dust jacket) of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Far fewer copies of the first U.S. edition of the first Harry Potter book were issued than the sequels in this wildly popular series ($1,000-$1,500). And, a scarce copy of Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company is available. The book is signed and inscribed by Beach, American-born bookseller and publisher  who, through her Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, published James Joyce’s Ulysses, and encouraged the publication and sold copies of Hemingway’s first book ($2,000-$3,000).

The sale will begin at 11:00 am Pacific Time and the public may preview the auction on Monday, October 7th from 1-5pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, September 8th and 9th from 9am-5pm, or Thursday, October 10th from 9-11am. For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].