Fine & Rare Books on July 23rd

PBA Galleries is pleased to announce that an auction of Fine & Rare Books – Fine Literature will be held on July 23rd, 2020. The catalogue contains over 250 lots of rare and unusual books, from 16th-century historical tomes to landmarks of literary giants such as Dickens and Dostoevsky. Assembled throughout are finely bound and printed books, striking examples of illustration, illumination, and more, topped off by alchemy, hermetics, and other dark arts.

The most notable names in the history of science, medicine, and technology appear in the sale, including a first collected edition of Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity. Published in London in 1769, the book is considered the most important scientific book of eighteenth-century America, an exceptional copy in contemporary half calf and boards ($30,000-$50,000). 

Literary legends up for auction include those who have remained extremely desirable to modern collectors and held their value well, such as Charles Dickens. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby will be presented in a first edition in the original wrapper-bound parts (1838-1839). The Doheny copy comes with a receipt signed by Hablot K. Brown (Phiz) for money received in payment for illustrations he did for the book ($4,000-$6,000). Other significant copies of canonical standouts include T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land: The first edition (1922) is an Eliot family copy with the ownership signature of his niece, Theodora Eliot Smith, his sister’s daughter ($8,000-$12,000). Historic translations include the first book by Fyodor Dostoevsky to be published in the English language, Buried Alive, or Ten Years of Penal Servitude in Siberia (1881) based on the author’s own imprisonment and exile in Siberia ($4,000-$6,000).

Travel narratives and adventures are alive in the pages of Kipling, Cervantes, and Hemingway, all authors expected to inspire spirited bidding. The first illustrated edition in English of Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1687) is a tall, handsome copy with a frontispiece and eight copperplate engravings ($8,000-$12,000). Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is signed by him on the title page and inscribed with verse from “Kaa’s Hunting” ($6,000-$9,000). Across the River and Into the Trees is inscribed by Ernest Hemingway to the two young children of wealthy American expatriates in Spain whom he visited in 1959, while researching articles on bullfighting for Life Magazine ($3,000-$5,000).

Other noteworthy lots include a presentation copy of Warhol model, artist, and “porno chic” sensation Viva’s autobiographical novel Superstar, inscribed to her publisher William Targ and his wife, with additional inscriptions, candid Polaroids, and more ($1,000-$1,500). The Works of the Famous Nicholas Machiavel, Citizen and Secretary of Florence (1675) will also be on the auction block: PBA is proud to offer the first collected edition in English, containing The PrinceThe Art of War, and others ($8,000-$12,000).

PBA continues to safeguard the health of employees and clients by remaining closed to the public. PBA will conduct previews via Zoom and limit live auction participation to online or phone bidding. For more information about upcoming sales or to schedule a Zoom preview or phone bidding for a future auction, please contact the galleries at 415.989.2665 or [email protected].