Published: February 20, 2001
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. – Bidders from both sides of the Atlantic converged on San Francisco for Pacific Book Auction Gallery’s recent sale of the Angling Library of a Gentleman. An important private collection, many of the books in the auction were extremely scarce and fueled bidding wars in the room and on the telephone. Once the auction was over, there were very few unsold lots left.
Furious bidding erupted in the room early on in the auction. Two floor bidders and one telephone bidder competed for lot 22, Thomas Barker’s The Art of Angling… London, 1653, second edition. This particular copy was bound in a morocco with gilt-roll borders, fish vignette stamped in gilt on both covers, stylized bird vignettes in the corners, spine tooled in gilt, raised bands, gilt inner dentelles and marbled endpapers. When the bidding finally stopped, the book was sold for $9,775, well over its $4/6,000 estimate.
The Whole Art of Fishing.., London, 1714, bound in period speckled calf gilt, also stirred bidders and exceeded its high estimate of $1,200 when the book brought $1,955. Books with median estimates attracted competitive bidding as well, including Choad’s The Angling Excursions of Gregory Greendrake..Dublin, 1832, and Frederic Halford’s Modern Development of the Dry Fly…London, , which exceeded their estimates and sold for $747.50 and $460, respectively.
Expected high prices were achieved for W. H. Aldam’s A Quaint Treatise on “Flees, and the Art a Artyfichall Flee Making.., with actual samples of fly-making material, which fetched $3,737.50, as well as for A Description of the River Themes,… dated London, 1758, by Robert Binnell, with nine engraved copper plates. This work was estimated $1/ 1500 and had a final price of $1,610. A sum of $1,495 was the price achieved for the 1718 rare first edition of Jacob’s The Compleat Sportman, in Three Parts, which easily tipped over its high estimate. The rare first edition with an account of angling in Scotland, Franck’s Northern Memoirs…London, 1694, sold near the top of its high estimate for $8,625.
A great run of Izaak Walton editions of his celebrated angling books rounded out the auction. As was anticipated, these rdf_Descriptions generated enormous interest among the bidders. All fourteen lots sold. A sum of $9,200 paid for Walton et al’s The Universal Angler..London, 1676, the first edition to include Cotton’s continuation as well as Venable’s noteworthy contribution to the literature of angling. The first Bagster edition of The Complete Angler..London, 1808, with extra hand-colored plates, sold for $1,725.
Overall, prices realized at this auction were unusually high. Much of this had to do with the rarity of many of the works and their impressive preservation.
PBA’s second sale in 2001, conducted just one week after the angling sale, shifted gears and included an electric mix of rare and collectable property. Also, for the first time at a PBA auction, images of lots being sold were projected while on the auction block.
Continuing a trend among collectors, the first editions by William Faulkner were bid high and many exceeded their high estimates. A copy of the first trade edition of The Hamlet (in a very bright dust jacket) doubled its high estimate when it sold for $1,495. In addition, the $2,875 paid for a rare jacket first edition of Faulkner’s early work, Mosquitoes, also attracted very competitive bidding and sold for well over its original $8/1,200 estimate. Faulkner first editions, always popular among modern literature collectors, have made serious leaps in value over the last two years, with new auction prices consistently topping each other.
Modern Literature, overall, sold very well in this auction. A typed manuscript of Robert Bloch’s The Twilight Zone, complete with Bloch’s corrections and an inscription by him, sold at the top of its estimate for $1,725 and $6,325 was the buying price for a typed manuscript photocopy of Stephen King’s The Eyes of the Dragon. The work was originally titled The Napkin, and the copy sold in this auction contained ink corrections in King’s hand. On a more traditional literary note, Arthur Conan Doyle’s second issue of the famed Sherlock Holmes tale, The Sign of Four, was bid to its high estimate of $1,380, and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Li’l Gal, the 1904 edition with photographs by Leigh Richmond Miner, sold in the middle of its estimate for $258.75.
One of the most interesting lots was a bound manuscript essay by Julia Ward Howe, in which Howe details the writing of one the most inspirational songs of the Civil War, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, after traveling near the battle lines in Washington in November of 1861. Two telephone bidders competed for the lot and the bidding quickly jumped from $11,000 to the $20,000 high estimate. When the hammer fell, the manuscript was purchased for $25,875.
Other stand-outs in included an inscribed copy of Oscar Wilde’s Intentions: The Decay of Lying, Pen Pencil and Poison… which realized $5,750, and a facsimile of Columbus’ important letter revealing the first impression of the New World, titled The Letter in Spanish of Christopher Columbus Written on his Return… published in London in 1889 and ornately bound in gilt Levant morocco, which soared over its original estimate of $5/800 and fetched $1,955.
To round out the auction, photography portfolios were also offered for sale. Always a strong market, among the lots sold was Brett Weston’s Fifteen Photographs of Japan, 1970, consisting of fifteen mounted original silver photographs, each signed by Weston in pencil on the mount. After furious competition in the room and on the telephone, the lot was bid over its $5,000 high estimate to $6,900.
All prices reflect the 15 percent buyer’s premium.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm