Early religious, philosophical works mark PBA Galleries auction June 15


PBA Galleries

First edition of Voltaire’s ‘Candide,’ 1759. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. PBA Galleries image


SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday, June 15, PBA Galleries will offer Rare Books & Manuscripts, a select gathering of 240 lots of rare, interesting, unusual, and valuable materials in a variety of fields, ranging from early religious and philosophical works to landmark scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Included are high spots of literary and artistic achievement, beautiful limited printings and artist’s books with original prints, finely bound books and sets, historical works of travel, exploration, Americana and world history, rare illustrated books, and medieval manuscript leaves on vellum.

A rare first edition of Voltaire’s Candide (above), from 1759 headlines the sale. One of the most famous clandestine works of the 18th century, it was banned for religious blasphemy and political sedition. The earliest known printing has a complex bibliography in order to avoid the opposition of authorities throughout Europe. Voltaire used multiple printers and sought the most widespread distribution as copies were seized by authorities as they appeared (estimate: $20,000-$30,000).

Also, featured in the sale is a first edition of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan (below), 1651, the groundbreaking work on political philosophy and the motivations behind human behavior. Hobbes contends that man is a purely selfish creature, seeking only his own advantage and resisting the competing claims of others resulting in “confrontation, enmity and war” (est. $15,000-$25,000).


PBA Galleries

First edition of Thomas Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan,’ 1651. Estimate: $15,000-$25,000. PBA Galleries image


A rare French, superbly illustrated edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron  will also be auctioned. It includes 110 beautifully engraved copper plate illustrations (est. $10,000-$15,000).


PBA Galleries

Pastorals of Virgil with illustrations by William Blake, 1821, two volumes. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. PBA Galleries image


Highlights from the 19th century include: a 1821 Sangorski & Stucliffe bound edition of The Pastorals of Virgil (above) with woodcuts and engravings by William Blake (est. $20,000-$30,000); a first edition of one of the landmarks in American letters, Walden: Or, Live in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau (est. $8,000-$12,000); and William Morris’ labor of love The Tale of Beowulf  (below) with his own translation of the poem published by Kelmscott Press (est. $5,000-$8,000).


PBA Galleries

Kelmscott Press edition of ‘Beowulf,’ 1895, one of 300 on paper. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000. PBA Galleries image


Architecture Arabe ou Monuments du Kaire, by Pascal Coste, 1839, which contains a remarkable series of engraved plans and lithographed views of Cairo, is also estimated at $5,000-$8,000.


PBA Galleries

Pascal Coste’s, ‘Architecture Arabe ou Monuments du Kaire,’ 1839, contains Stunning lithograph views of Cairo in the 1820s. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000. PBA Galleries image


The Statutes of Venice are written in brown ink on vellum. The laws are from 1560, a time when the city-state was recovering from the devastation of the Black Death but was still a major center of trade with the East. It is an exceptional and rare work in a contemporary binding (est. $15,000-$25,000). Also from the 16th century is the tractate “Menachot” from the rare 1548 edition of the Bomberg Talmud. This printing is the rarest edition of the Talmud printed by Daniel Bomberg since it was produced just five years before the Conflagration of the Talmud instigated by the papal degree of 1553 designating the Talmud and related works as blasphemous and condemning them to be burned so many of the copies of this Third Bomberg Edition were destroyed (est. $8,000-$12,000).

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