PBA Galleries is privileged to offer collections of two important Californians in Sale 535. Section I of the sale is the working library of Doyce B. Nunis, Jr., educator, author, historian, professor at the University of Southern California. Also present in the auction are rare historical artifacts passed down through the family of California governor James Rolph, Jr.
Doyce Blackman Nunis, Jr. was not a native Californian. He was born in Cedartown, Georgia ninety years ago. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he settled in Southern California earning his bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1947. Later, he would earn a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in history from USC. His first book was about Andrew Sublette, a frontiersman and fur trader. Professor Nunis would eventually write or edit more than 40 books and 70 articles. He also was the editor of the Historical Society of Southern California’s prestigious journal Southern California Quarterly for 43 years. He never put a space limit on articles saying, “History is like an artist standing before a canvas — every little bit you fill in helps, every article fits into the mosaic eventually.”
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1963 which enabled him to spend a year in England researching information related to the Hudson’s Bay Company and the fur trade in California during the Mexican Era. He would become a leading figure in early California history, particularly the Spanish and Mexican periods. As a pioneer in the fields of oral and regional history, he helped found the UCLA Center for Oral History Research and the USC Regional History Collection. He was recognized by His Holiness Pope John Paul II with the Benemerenti Medal 1984 and the order of Knight Commander of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory in 1993 for his work on the history of the Catholic Church in early California and his help in preserving archives of California missions.
James “Sunny Jim” Rolph, Jr served as mayor of San Francisco for 19 years and 3 years as the 27th governor of California. During his term as San Francisco’s mayor, he was extremely popular and the city saw the expansion of its transit system, construction of the Civic Center and it hosted the Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) or World’s Fair of 1915.
The main purpose of the PPIE was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and commemorate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Núñez de Balboa. However, it was also an opportunity for San Francisco to showcase its recovery from the devastating 1906 earthquake. It took over three years to construct the fair’s buildings and attractions in what is now the Marina District of San Francisco. The Fair’s buildings were construction out of temporary materials which were easily sculpted but were only meant to last through the end of the fair. As a result, nearly all of the fair’s buildings no longer exist, including the tall centerpiece, the Tower of Jewels, which was covered in colored glass that sparkled during the day and were illuminated at night. The only surviving building still on the Exposition’s grounds is the Palace of Fine Arts which had to be completely rebuilt in the 1960s and then undergo a seismic retrofit in 2009. The Fair was considered a success in helping to uplift the spirits and economy of San Francisco.
The sale of these collections will take place on Thursday, June 19th, 2014 beginning at 11:00am Pacific Time.