Joseph Smith and MLK Rarities in March 22nd Sale

Joseph Smith’s The Voice of Truth

PBA Galleries will offer The Voice of Truth by Mormon founder Joseph Smith and two early letters written by civil rights leader Martin Luther King on Thursday, March 22nd. In addition, the Americana, Travel & Exploration, World History and Cartography sale will include over 400 lots of rare and collectible material, with printed books, original letters, diaries and other manuscript items, photographs, ephemera, maps, views and more. There will be key pieces on the history of the United States and the Americas, revealing the political, economic, social and cultural evolution of the New World. Travels to the far reaches of the world are also present; from the frozen lands of Antarctica to the torrid deserts and jungles of Africa. And the accumulation of geographic and cartographic knowledge over the centuries is demonstrated by a selection of maps from the 16th through 20th centuries.

The exceedingly rare The Voice of Truth contains correspondence between Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and General James Arlington Bennett, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay as well as an appeal to the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont. In these letters, Smith seeks retribution for the 1838 Missouri Mormon War to no avail. This first edition, printed by John Taylor in Nauvoo, Illinois, also contains Smith’s final sermon, the King Follett discourse from April 7, 1844, less than three months before his death. The discourse is notable in its controversial suggestion that God was once a mortal and that mortals can become gods (Estimate: $30,000-$50,000).

Early Letters by Martin Luther King Jr

The two early letters from Martin Luther King date from his time at Boston University where he studied in the University’s School of Theology. The first letter, typewritten in Atlanta, asks Dean Charles Alter for his assistance in locating living accommodations near campus. The second letter is a handwritten petition on a Boston University form and requests additional class hours towards his graduate degree which he received in 1955. These are rare and unique glimpses into the education of the great Civil Rights leader (Estimate: $20,00-$30,00).

Engravings of Italy

Highlights from the travel section of the sale include Pen Sketches of Los Angeles, 1896, with sketches and photographs of the growing metropolis, a superb historical record of the economic and industrial history of Los Angeles (Estimate: $3,000-$5,000); a bound volume of 18th & 19th century engravings of Italy, including the rare “Téâtro prospetico fabriche più considerabili della città di Padova” which features topography, public buildings, streets, squares and other areas of interest of Padua, and, of which, only two copies are recorded (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000); and a superb album of albumen photographs of Egypt, with Cairo street scenes, pyramids, temples & the sphinx, Aswan & the Nile, plus some of Greek ruins many of which are captioned by hand (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

Ortelius’ World Map

The world map, Typus Orbis Terrarum by Abraham Ortelius, was the first world map included in his famed atlas, beginning in 1570 and continuing through sixteen editions. It a simplified one-sheet reduction of the large world map by Gerard Mercator which appeared the year before (Estimate: $6,000-$9,000). Also featured in the sale is Sebastien Münster’s influential woodcut map of the Americas, 1545, which was crucial in establishing the name “America” to the newly discovered continents (Estimate: $4,000-$6,000) and the rare two-volume Philadelphia edition of Alexander Mackenzie’s Voyages from Montreal… to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, with three important maps (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000).
The sale will begin at 11:00 am Pacific Time and the public may preview the auction Monday, March 19th, 1-5pm, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 20th and 21st, 9am-5pm and on Thursday, March 22nd, 9-11am at PBA Galleries in San Francisco. For more information, please contact the galleries at (415) 989-2665 or [email protected].