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19th-century ephemera, books draw attention to PBA auction Dec. 14

Rare 1860 clipper ship sailing broadside. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000. PBA Galleries image

SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday, Dec. 14, PBA Galleries will conduct its last sale of 2017: Fine Americana, Travel & Exploration, World History and Cartography. With over 600 lots of rare, interesting, unusual and valuable material relating to the Americas and beyond, the sale includes items of historical, cultural, visual and literary nature, with books, manuscript material, maps, photographs and ephemera. There is material of African American and Asian American interest, California, Hawaii, Mexico, South America, overland narratives, political discourse, exploration in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Two 19th-century posters are among the highlights of the sale. A rare surviving 1860 broadside announcement for the clipper ship Polynesia’s Jan. 14 voyage from New York to San Francisco (above). Described as the elegant and popular clipper ship, the Polynesia sailed for the Merchant Express Line under Commander Morse (Estimate: $10,000-$15,000).

A large turn of the century poster for the Sutro Baths advertises the “Special Tank for Ladies” open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Estimate: $1,500-$2,000).

Also, featured in the sale, is a rare and highly important album of 63 Albertypes (below) from photographs by William Henry Jackson, containing the first photographic views of the Yellowstone, which were instrumental in its establishment as the first U.S. national park. The proof images, produced in 1874, were made from Jackson’s glass plate negatives using the Albertype process, a then-new German technique to reproduce photographs (Estimate: $10,000-$15,000).

Album of Albertypes from photographs by William Henry Jackson taken on the 1871 Hayden Geological Survey, during which the Yellowstone region was explored and photographed. PBA Galleries image

Lots from the travel and exploration section of the sale include Dessins et Peintures D’Asie, circa 1935, which records an expedition across central Asia and into Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir and other mysterious land. It contains a text booklet in a portfolio of 50 color plates from drawings and paintings by Alexandre Iacovleff (Estimate: $4,000-$6,000).

Alexandre Lacovleff’s color plates from Central Asia. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000. PBA Galleries image

The first octavo edition of George Vancouver’s A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World, in six volumes, 1801, contains important maps and plates including some of the earliest published views of California (Estimate: $3,000-$5,000).

Octavo edition of Vancouver’s Voyages, 1801. Estimate: $3,000-$5,000. PBA Galleries image

The Lake Regions of Africa by Richard F. Burton, two volumes, 1860, is the account of his search, along with John Hanning Speke, for the long-sought source of the Nile River (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

The Panorama of the Thames from London to Richmond, circa 1830, a stunning hand-colored aquatint extending nearly 60 feet in length (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

‘The Panorama of the Thames from London to Richmond,’ circa 1830, hand-colored aquatint extending nearly 60 feet in length. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. PBA Galleries image

Two interesting Americana lots will also be offered. The first is a manuscript legal deposition from 1853 about an Alabama slave owner who violently assaulted his wife for criticizing his suspected intimacy with his female slaves (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000). The other lot is a rare Colonial printing of the pacifist poem A Looking Glass for the Times, by the Quaker Peter Folger, grandfather of Benjamin Franklin, the 1725 second edition, following on the 1676 printing, with both issues of excessive rarity (Estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

The sale will begin at 11 a.m. Pacific time. For more information, contact the PBA Galleries at 415-989-2665 or

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