At Heritage, a Whopping Pocket-ful of Books

Coming up on Thursday of the week, Heritage Auctions will hold a large auction of rare books and manuscripts in Beverly Hills, where the heavy hitters will be a first edition of Hemingway's Three Stories & Ten Poems inscribed to Margaret Anderson, a Pony Express Bible in its original binding, a complete set of first editions of Dickens' Christmas books, some Poe, some Melville, and a few others.

Pockets.jpgAs I perused the collection, one of the lots of greatest interest to me is a collection of Pocket Books, including a complete run of the first 1,257 titles, published in New York between 1939 and 1960. These little paperbacks with their vibrant cover illustrations for novels like Lost Horizon and The Maltese Falcon are incredible cultural artifacts, and to see them as a group must be stunning. Another collector had all the fun of acquiring this incredible collection, but someone else can now have the pleasure of it as a standing collection. Much as I'd love to have them--and enough bare bookshelves to shelve them--it would be best for them to end up at an institution with an interest in mid-twentieth-century reading habits, publishing, and print culture. I can imagine great projects that could arise from such a collection in such a complete form. The estimate is $1500--a bargain, in my opinion.

Pockets2.jpgAnother fun find is a first limited edition of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 that has been signed by the author a total of four times to the same owner, "Ted." Signed once upon publication in 1953, again 1969, then in 1982, and finally in 1990. What a neat story that book has to tell.

I feel at odds to pluck a few items here and there to highlight from this big and varied sale, but others that caught my eye include an early Virginia imprint of Peter Cottom's The Whole Art of Book-Binding...(1824), a first edition of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land from Margaret Anderson's personal collection, and a set of of The Book Lover's Almanac from 1893-1897.

You can view the catalogue online and begin the bidding straight away, as Heritage has already opened the auction to online bidders.