Book Club of California collection highlights PBA Galleries Sept. 7 auction
SAN FRANCISCO – The Fred Bennett Collection of the Book Club of California is featured in PBA Galleries’ Rare Books and Manuscripts sale on September 7, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com. The collection includes virtually all of the club’s publications, with many special copies, from copy No. 1 of the very first book, specially bound, onward.
Many of the leaf books have additional leaves, and a number of the books are signed by the printers or others involved in their production. Also in the sale are 150 lots of rare, valuable, and significant material in many subject areas, from early folio printings of Shakespeare plays and books of the Bible to fine printings from the Doves and Kelmscott Presses, with important medical and scientific works, breakthroughs in Egyptology, uncommon art and photography books, and more.
The first publication of the Book Club of California (shown at top) is the highlight of the Fred Bennett Collection. Robert Cowan’s landmark Bibliography of the History of California, published in 1914, is specially bound in three-quarter pigskin and tan cloth, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, rust colored patina endpapers; housed in Niger leather and cloth clamshell box lined with patina paper, raised spine bands, spine stamped in gilt. This is copy number 1 of a total first edition of 250 printed by Taylor, Nash & Taylor and is truly a unique copy of this important work. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000
Plato’s Republic, is the Greek philosopher’s most enduring work. This copy, a large paper edition published in Glasgow in 1763, is the very rare first edition in English. OCLC lists only four copies, with only two found in the United States. It is bound in period calf, re-backed with later calf, raised spine bands, morocco lettering piece. Estimate: $12,000-$18,000.
Other fine press offerings include the beautiful Doves Press English Bible in five volumes. One of the legendary fine printings of the Bible and the Masterpiece of the press, this is one of 500 copies in full limp vellum bindings. The crown jewel of Doves’ achievements remains this edition of the King James Bible, with the iconic initial letter “I” from “In the Beginning” gently cascading down the page, alongside the elegant block of text. Estimate: $7,000-$10,000.
Printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, The Well at the World’s End from an edition of 350 copies has wood-engraved illustrations by W. S. Hooper after Edward Burne-Jones. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000
Two seminal works will also be offered in the sale: Jean-François Champollion’s Lettre à M. Dacier, 1822, the first edition of his account of his method for assigning phonetic values to Egyptian hieroglyphs, based on a study of the Rosetta Stone, a key work in Egyptology (estimate: $30,000-$50,000); and six early and seminal papers on DNA, in four issues of Nature, including the first two papers by James Watson and Francis Crick, and the first depictions of the DNA molecule (estimate: $5,000-$8,000).
The sale also features two autograph letters signed by Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch, to “Cousin William,” writing in 1897 about the publication of her autobiography (estimate: $7,000-$10,000); a late 18th-century Persian manuscript of popular tales and narratives, with 14 exquisite half-page miniature paintings (estimate: $6,000-$9,000); and two complete plays from the second folio edition of Shakespeare’s works, 1632, being the tragedies of Troylus and Cressida, and of Cariolinus, bound together in modern half morocco (estimate: $10,000-$15,000)
The sale will begin at 11:00 am Pacific Time / 2 p.m. Eastern Time, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. For more information, please contact the galleries by calling 415-989-2665 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.