Rare maps, douments in PBA Galleries auction Feb. 20

rare maps

Unrecorded issue of Melish’s 1818 U.S. map. PBA Galleries image

BERKELEY, Calif. – PBA Galleries invites bidders to join them on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. Pacific time, for a sale of Rare Americana & Cartography, with the Robert M. Ebiner Zamorano 80 Collection. The auction will feature over 500 lots of rare and historically significant material on the Americas, ranging from cornerstones of California history to cartographic delineation of 20th-century development, with books, manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, maps and atlases. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

Included is the Robert M. Ebiner Zamorano 80 Collection, a selection of key books in a library of California; a range of books on or by presidents of the United States; books, pamphlets, maps and historical atlases on California local history, and that of other states; and much more.

Nineteenth-century maps, rare books, and ephemera feature prominently in the auction. In a rare, apparently unrecorded issue of John Melish’s 1818 map of the United States (above), Illinois is properly abutting Lake Michigan, not connected by a rectangular offset of land as with other known copies ($3,000-$5,000).

A Black Hills expense report for telegraph usage signed by George Armstrong Custer is dated “Bismarck, Dakota Territory, 1875.” The report is countersigned by the telegraph operator who would later break the news to the world of Custer’s death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn ($6,000-$9,000).

rare maps

Black Hills expense report signed by G.A. Custer PBA Galleries image

A first edition of Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (1840) will be offered in the first edition, first issue. The exceptional copy is in the preferred tan muslin binding and expertly rebacked with the original spine strip employed ($5,000-$8,000).

rare maps


From 1881, a handwritten letter from Tombstone dates to just two months after the gunfight at OK Corral. The note from Tombstone Justice of the Peace Mike Grey is addressed to James W. Denver, of the eponymous city. Grey asks that he mention to “proper authorities” the importance of establishing a military post along the Mexican border where Arizona and New Mexico meet ($1,500-$2,500).

In Californiana, Francisco Paloú’s Relacion Historica de la Vida Y Apostolicas Tareas of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions, has been called the “most extensive early work on upper California. PBA will offer a fine 1787 first edition in the original full vellum ($10,000-$15,000). From the 20th century, a rare folding bird’s-eye view of Los Angeles is presented in Los Angeles 1909. The spectacular street map of the sprawling city and the surrounding area is in the original paper wrappers ($2,000-$3,000).

rare maps

Paloú’s ‘Life of Father Serra,’ 1787. PBA Galleries image

Early American ephemera and artwork are well-represented in the sale. A rare printed broadside proclamation issued by John Adams (1799) marks the period of a rampant yellow fever plague, calling for a “day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer” ($4,000-$6,000). A collection of 119 patriotic envelopes from the Civil War feature captivating illustrations. Some of the envelopes are printed in color and all display compelling graphic propaganda for the Union cause ($3,000-$5,000). A rare lithograph of the Declaration of Independence in calligraphy by William H. Pratt was designed to form a portrait of George Washington. The portrait was lithographed by August Hagenboeck in Davenport, Iowa in 1865 ($5,000-$8,000).

rare maps

George Washington portrait in calligraphed Declaration. PBA Galleries image

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.