PBA Galleries to auction Dashiell Hammett’s first book Feb. 7

Dashiell Hammett

First edition of Hammett’s first book, inscribed. PBA Galleries image

SAN FRANCISCO – On Thursday, Feb. 7, PBA Galleries will offer a select assemblage of rare and collectible books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and other items, ranging from the 16th to 21st centuries, and spanning a broad range of subject matter. The sale will be a prelude to the 52nd California International Antiquarian Book Fair with the sale at the venue of the fair. View the fully illustrated catalog and bid on LiveAuctioneers.

The first 75 lots in the auction are donated by members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and are sold for the benefit of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Benevolent Fund. The final 100 lots comprise material consigned to PBA Galleries, ranging from antiquarian rarities by Aristotle and Thomas Hobbes to hard-boiled crime detection by Dashiell Hammett.

Literature highlights in the sale include: Dashiell Hammett’s first book, Red Harvest (above), inscribed and signed by Hammett with the advice, “keep a notebook and pencil – the story of the other fellows’ crime pays” (est.  $15,000-$25,000); the first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 1928, privately printed in Florence, Italy, one of 1,000 copies signed by D.H. Lawrence (est. $6,000-$9,000); and the first complete edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Kinder- und Haus-Märchen (below), consisting of the second edition of volumes 1 & 2, and the first edition of volume 3, 1819-1822 (est. $12,000-$18,000).

Dashiell Hammett

The first complete edition of the beloved Grimm’s Fairy Tales. PBA Galleries image

A highlight of the sale is a significant archive on novelist Vladimir Nabokov’s research into butterflies, which both predated and was contiguous with his literary endeavors. He was successful in both fields. Nabokov’s importance as a lepidopterist is considered by many to equal that of his importance as a literary figure. Certainly, his literary works are vastly infused with passages and imagery of butterflies. The archive relates to Nabokov’s research on butterflies, particularly the Lepidoptera Lycaenidae, and includes a lengthy handwritten letter to a noted lepidopterist; inscribed reprints of articles by Nabokov; original sketches; and more. Estimate: $10,000-$15,000.

Dashiell Hammett

Significant archive of Vladimir Nabokov’s important research on butterflies. PBA Galleries image

Two early political works are featured in the sale. The first edition in English of Aristotle’s Politiques, or, Discourses of Government, from 1598, is the earliest obtainable English language printing of Aristotle. One of the foundational texts of political theory, Aristotle analyzes the idea and possible forms of polity using his four causes and determines constitutional government to be the preferred form (est. $20,000-$30,000).

Dashiell Hammett

The first obtainable English language Aristotle work from 1598. PBA Galleries image

Fifty years later, the first edition of Thomas Hobbes’ seminal work on political philosophy, Leviathan, published in 1651, espouses the pessimistic view that man is a purely selfish creature (est. $15,000-$25,000).

Dashiell Hammett

Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan,’ his seminal work which concludes man is selfish. PBA Galleries image

Other featured lots in the sale are a copy of the massive and spectacularly illustrated Voyage pittoresque de la Grece by the Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, 3 volumes in 2, 1782-1822, with hundreds of fine engraved plates (est. $10,000-$15,000); an exceptionally fine copy of the third edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, considered the most important biological book ever written, in bright original cloth (est. $8,000-$12,000); and Following Abraham Lincoln by Bernhardt Wall, illustrated throughout with some 960 etchings printed in colored inks, a superb set in the original 85 volumes, hand-bound in boards by Wall, with dust wrappers, one of 100 copies (est. $5,000-$8,000).

The sale will be held at the Oakland Marriott Civic Center Junior Ballroom, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, Calif. For more information contact the galleries at 415-989-2665 or pba@pbagalleries.com.