PBA Galleries auction May 2 explores early California in print

Henry S. Tanner’s 1846 hand-colored folding ‘Map of The United States of Mexico’ includes the majority of the southwest portion of the present United States. PBA Galleries image

SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday, May 2, PBA Galleries will conduct a sale of rare Americana including California and the West. On offer will be over 450 lots of important and varied materials on the Americas, covering the discovery, history, culture, society and cartography. Included are books, maps, manuscript material, photographs, ephemera, and much that is unusual and esoteric. There is much material on California and Mexico, before, during, and after the Gold Rush. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

Highlighting the sale is the spectacular Taber Photographic Album of Principal Business Houses …,  a remarkable folio-size directory of San Francisco, with some 110 original mounted photographs taken by Isaiah West Taber (below).

The ‘Taber Album,’ contains original Isaiah West Taber photographs of San Francisco businesses, 1880. PBA Galleries image

A remarkable and highly important photographically illustrated book, it captures a broad representation of the businesses, commerce and economic culture of San Francisco in the late 19th century. One of only four, or possibly five, examples known to exist, it was originally published in limited numbers in response to requests by commercial customers (estimate: $30,000-$50,000).

The ‘Taber Album,’ contains advertisements for San Francisco’s 19th century businesses. PBA Galleries image

Also featured is the personal accounting ledger (below) of merchant captain and California pioneer William A. Leidesdorff. One of the earliest mixed race, African-European citizens of California under both Mexican and United States rule, Leidesdorff was also one of its most successful receiving a land grant from the Mexican government of over 35,000 acres south of the American River. The ledger covers his expenses in 1843 and 1844, most for the schooner Julia Ann, including food and drink: smoked and fresh salmon, fresh vegetables, beef, gin, and grog (estimate: $30,000-$50,000).

W.A. Liedesdorff ledger, 1843-1844 personal accounting ledger of W.A. Liedesdorff, an African-American California pioneer. PBA Galleries image

Two unusual maps will be up for bidding. The important third edition of H.S. Tanner’s hand-colored, engraved, folding pocket map from 1846, A Map of the United States of Mexico, includes a majority of the southwest portion of the present United States as well as a “Table of Distances,” a “Statistical Table” and a map of roads from Vera Cruz to Alvarado (estimate: $15,000-$25,000).  A large ink manuscript Sonoma & Marin Rail-Road Map, from 1875, shows the planned route of the short-lived Sonoma-Marin Railroad, from Petaluma south into Marin County (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

Reid’s Tramp, a classic work on the Southwest, details John C. Reid’s overland journey from Alabama to the Pacific coast. Reid’s journey began in Marion, Alabama in September of 1856 in a party known as the Mesilla Valley Co., whose purpose was to explore the new Gadsden Purchase. This rare first edition is one to survive the destruction in Selma during the Civil War (estimate: $15,000-$25,000).

‘Reid’s Tramp,’ a rare first edition of one of the genuine classics relating to the Southwest. PBA Galleries image

Other highlights of the sale include: a rare 1797 printing of George Washington’s farewell address, America’s Lecacy [sic]: Being the Address of G. Washington, on his declining a Re-election to the Presidency, published by A. Stoddard in Hudson, New York (estimate: $2,000-$3,000); the first two volumes of the Millennial Harbinger, 1830-1831, with an essay by editor Alexander Campbell challenging Mormonism, one of the earliest printed articles in book form on the religion of Joseph Smith (estimate: $7,000-$10,000); A Watch at the Crossroad, a rare 1927 poster depicting the evils facing America, especially of Catholicism and paganism, with a figure in a Ku Klux Klan robe pointing the way toward religious freedom and “Pure Womanhood” (estimate: $2,000-$3,000); and The History of Barbados … and the rest of the Carriby-Islands, from 1666, translated from the anonymous French edition of 1658, with nine engraved natural history plates (estimate: $1,500-$2,500).

The sale will begin at 11 a.m. Pacific time/2 p.m. Eastern.  For more information, contact PBA Galleries at 415- 989-2665 or pba@pbagalleries.com.