Serendipity Books: The Long Goodbye

Nearly a year after bookseller Peter Howard's death, Bonhams is holding the first of many auctions to dissolve the store's stock this Sunday. This first auction is chock-full of amazing books and art, John Steinbeck material leading the pack with a typed manuscript of "The Pearl of the World," the original version of his novel, The Pearl, estimated at $15,000-20,000. Another highlight is James Joyce's rare self-published broadside poem, Gas from a Burner. Its estimate is $12,000-18,000.

whitman.jpgBut surely there is room for serendipity at this auction, as a peruse through the catalogue verifies. How about this portrait (seen above) of Walt Whitman looking like Rip Van Winkle by the Philadelphia artist Gladys Logan Winner, c. 1910. The estimate is only $600-900.

welles.jpgOr these original gouche on paper sketches of costume designs for an unknown production, unsigned but attributed to Orson Welles -- one of the figures clearly resembles him. The estimate for these bold and beautiful sketches is $3,000-5,000.

jeffers.jpgThere's also a wonderful collection of Robinson Jeffers books and letters spread over fourteen lots. Having just learned about Jeffers' Tor House and Hawk Tower from our winter issue's article on literary spots in Big Sur, I can better appreciate the warm inscription and architectural sketch he placed on the front flyleaf of this copy of Roan Stallion, Tamar and Other Poems.

To view the full auction catalogue and experience the serendipity for yourself, click here.

To read more about the heyday of Serendipity Books, here's an article from our winter issue about one writer's encounter with the legendary bookstore. Kurt Zimmerman also posted an appreciative essay about Peter Howard on his American Book Collecting site.

In addition to shelf sales at the store in Berkeley, Bonhams intends to sell other material from Serendipity Books within these scheduled 2012 auctions: Fine Photography in New York on May 8, Period Art & Design in San Francisco on April 15 and May 20, Made in California in Los Angeles on May 21, Fine Books and Manuscripts in New York on June 19, and Entertainment Memorabilia in Los Angeles on June 24.