The first of two auctions by PBA Galleries of Richard Beagle’s Collection of Angling and Sporting Books, on June 1, 2017, featured rare and important works on fishing, plus scarce accounts of big game hunting and adventures in the wild. The books were gathered over multiple decades by Mr. Beagle, who began collecting sporting books in the early 1960’s, frequenting the many used book stores in the greater Los Angeles area and corresponding with sporting book dealers, including a number in England. Over the years, he specialized more and more in quality books about angling, and primarily fly fishing. The collection included numerous books containing original specimens of flies, rare limited editions, many signed and inscribed copies, and more, all in superb condition. The results brought strong prices for many of the lots as bidders small in number but large in enthusiasm competed for the rarities.
The most surprising of the overall strong results were seen in the sporting books. Leading the way was Arthur Bannon’s rare account of a hunting trip to northwest Canada, A Hunters Summer in Yukon Territory. The first copy to sell at auction since 1969, this 1911 first edition details a trip to the Yukon in the summer of 1910 hunting mainly for mountain sheep, and is illustrated with eight plates from photographs. The book sold for $4,500, three times its presale high estimate. Another sporting rarity that fetched an impressive price, A Hunting Trip in Jackson’s Hole, Wyoming, by Frederick Studebaker Fish, records the hunting trip in the wilds of Wyoming during the early 20th century. The five participants included a German “Count” and were accompanied by three guides and 17 horses. At $4,200, it sold for nearly three times the presale high estimate.
Two privately printed accounts of a summer hunting trip and sporting adventures by Gladys F. Harriman eclipsed their modest $500-$800 presale estimates when each sold for a whopping $2,700. Mulligan, published c.1939-40, is an account of sporting adventures in the Rocky Mountains and around the world. B.C. in A.D. 1938 tells of a summer hunting trip in British Columbia, with illustrations from photographs of the happy junket. Gladys Fries Harriman was an American philanthropist, equestrian, and one of the earliest female big game hunters as well as daughter-in-law of railroad baron Edward Henry Harriman.
There was also keen interest in the angling and fishing books. A delightful miniature treatise on small tied flies, The Book of Small Flies, sold for $7,200, twice the presale low estimate. The two-volume set consists of a separate text volume and a matching morocco covered wooden case housing eight mounted flies, with two flies each tied by Ernest Schwiebert, Paul Jorgensen, Rene Harrop and S. A. Neff, Jr., each having a description of their creation in the text. The set also includes three tipped in feathers and an additional colored etching by Al Barker.
Other significant books to go on the block included the highest selling lot in the sale at $9,000, Dean Sage’s The Ristigouche and Its Salmon Fishing With a Chapter on Angling Literature. This is one of the rarest and most beautiful books on salmon fishing about one of the best salmon-fishing rivers in the world, with engravings by Stephen Parrish, the father of Maxfield Parrish. Lee Sturges’ Salmon Fishing on Cain River, one of only a very few copies to survive destruction by fire, and inscribed to “Mr. Alex Friend, Who is also a lover of the flowing stream, from his friend, Lee Sturges,” sold for $6,000.
The complete catalogue for the auction, with prices realized, is at www.pbagalleries.com. Note that all prices listed include the buyer’s premium. Part II of The Richard Beagle Collection of Angling and Sporting books is on October 19, 2017. For more information about this sale or to consign to the October 19th sale, please contact PBA Galleries at 415-989-2665 or [email protected].