PBA Galleries to auction rare books, letters, maps March 22

Rare first edition of ‘The Voice of Truth’ by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, printed by John Taylor in Nauvoo, Illinois, 1845. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. PBA Galleries image

SAN FRANCISCO – PBA Galleries will offer The Voice of Truth by Mormon founder Joseph Smith and two early letters written by civil rights leader Martin Luther King on Thursday, March 22. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

In addition, the Americana, Travel & Exploration, World History and Cartography auction will include over 400 lots of rare and collectible material, with printed books, original letters, diaries and other manuscript items, photographs, ephemera, maps and views. There will be key pieces on the history of the United States and the Americas, revealing the political, economic, social and cultural evolution of the New World. Travels to the far reaches of the world are also present, from the frozen lands of Antarctica to the torrid deserts and jungles of Africa. The accumulation of geographic and cartographic knowledge over the centuries is demonstrated by a selection of maps from the 16th through 20th centuries.

The rare The Voice of Truth (above) contains correspondence between Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and Gen. James Arlington Bennett, John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay as well as an appeal to the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont. In these letters, Smith seeks retribution for the 1838 Missouri Mormon War to no avail. This first edition, printed by John Taylor in Nauvoo, Illinois, also contains Smith’s final sermon, the King Follett discourse from April 7, 1844, less than three months before his death. The discourse is notable in its controversial suggestion that God was once a mortal and that mortals can become gods (estimate: $30,000-$50,000).

Two early 1950s letters from Martin Luther King Jr. from his time at Boston University, where he studied in the university’s School of Theology. Estimate: $20,00-$30,00. PBA Galleries image

The two early letters from Martin Luther King Jr. date from his time at Boston University where he studied in the University’s School of Theology. The first letter, typewritten in Atlanta, asks Dean Charles Alter for his assistance in locating living accommodations near campus. The second letter is a handwritten petition on a Boston University form and requests additional class hours toward his graduate degree which he received in 1955. These are rare and unique glimpses into the education of the great civil rights leader (estimate: $20,00-$30,00).

Bound volume of 18th- and 19th-century engravings of Italy. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. PBA Galleries image

Highlights from the travel section of the sale include Pen Sketches of Los Angeles, 1896, with sketches and photographs of the growing metropolis, a superb historical record of the economic and industrial history of Los Angeles (estimate: $3,000-$5,000); a bound volume of 18th- and 19th-century engravings of Italy (above), including the rare Téâtro prospetico fabriche più considerabili della città di Padova that features topography, public buildings, streets, squares and other areas of interest of Padua, and, of which, only two copies are recorded (estimate: $2,000-$3,000); and a superb album of albumen photographs of Egypt, with Cairo street scenes, pyramids, temples and the Great Sphinx of Giza, Aswan and the Nile, plus some of Greek ruins, many of which are captioned by hand (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

Album of albumen photographs of Egypt. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. PBA Galleries image

Typus Orbis Terrarum (below) by Abraham Ortelius, was the first world map included in his famed atlas, beginning in 1570 and continuing through 16 editions. It a simplified one-sheet reduction of the large world map by Gerard Mercator that appeared the year before (estimate: $6,000-$9,000).

‘Typus Orbis Terrarum,’ by Abraham Ortelius, the first world map included in his famed atlas beginning in 1570. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. PBA Galleries image

Also featured in the sale is Sebastien Münster’s influential woodcut map of the Americas, 1545, which was crucial in establishing the name “America” to the newly discovered continents (estimate: $4,000-$6,000) and the rare two-volume Philadelphia edition of Alexander Mackenzie’s Voyages from Montreal … to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, with three important maps (estimate: $2,000-$3,000).

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