Auctions | December 27, 2017

Solid Prices at December Auction at PBA Galleries

directories.jpgPBA Galleries saw strong prices realized in their December 14th sale of Americana - Travel & Exploration - World History - Cartography. A number of lots sold for well over the presale high estimate and many lots saw spirited bidding, including an album of Albertypes from photographs taken by William Henry Jackson of Yellowstone, 14 annual editions of a Chinese telephone directory for San Francisco and Oakland, and books by the noted English scholar and explorer, Richard F. Burton.

A fascinating and rare album of 63 Albertypes of Yellowstone sold for $12,000. The photographs by William Henry Jackson were taken on the 1871 Hayden Geological Survey during which the Yellowstone region was explored. These were some of the first photographic views of the area and were instrumental in its establishment as the first U. S. national park. The scarcity of these albums was caused by a fire in the studio of the photographer and engraver Edward Bierstadt in early 1875 that destroyed most of the Albertypes he had printed, as well as virtually all of Jackson’s original glass negatives.

William Henry Jackson was in the early stages of his very long career as a photographer when he joined Ferdinand V. Hayden of the U.S. Geological Survey on an expedition to investigate the marvels of what is now the Yellowstone National Park. Jackson took hundreds of photographs of the towering mountains, the breathtaking canyons, the bubbling hot springs, and the steamy geysers, as well as the surrounding country, towns and forts on the way to the Yellowstone, creating glass plate negatives using the painstaking wet-collodion process, his studio borne by a mule. His photographs verified the amazing natural wonders to a fascinated nation, and led to the creation in early 1872 of the first national park out of “a tract of land fifty by sixty-five miles” at the Yellowstone. Hayden, leader of the expedition to the Yellowstone, was a promoter as well as a scientist, and saw Jackson’s photographs as a prime means to publicize the new park as well as help procure funding for future government surveys.

Fourteen consecutive annual editions of a Chinese Telephone Directory for San Francisco and Oakland sold for $2,040, well above the presale estimate.  Covering the years 1931-1944, the directories are in Chinese throughout, except for the wrappers which are printed in English. Individual issues of this directory are scarce, and the consecutive fourteen-year run exceeded any holdings listed in OCLC

Lots by the English scholar and explorer, Richard F. Burton, also did well in the sale.  A first edition of Burton’s account of his trip into the interior of Africa, The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration sold for $5,700 nearly twice the presale high estimate. Published in 1860, the two volumes contain 12 “chromoxylograph” color plates, a folding engraved map with slight hand-coloring and woodcuts throughout. This journey in search of the source of the Nile River with John Hanning Speke is as famous for the acrimonious relationship between the two explorers as for the geographical knowledge gained.

The original publication of Burton’s exploration of Central Africa in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society also did well, selling for $2,400. Nearly the entire journal is devoted to Burton’s narrative of the trip and includes a folding engraved map.  Since Burton was yet to have his disagreements with John Hanning Speke this account is less acrimonious than the book publication published the following year.

PBA Galleries holds sales of fine, rare and collectible books every two weeks.  For more information regarding upcoming sales, consignments, or auction results, please contact PBA Galleries at (415) 989-2665 or

About PBA Galleries

PBA Galleries is a San Francisco-based auction house rooted in nearly 60 years of service to the collectors’ community. Auctions are held every-other week in a variety of specialties and genres, including rare books, manuscripts, maps, Americana, and related materials. For information regarding bidding or consignment, please call 415.989.2665 or email PBA Galleries is located at 1233 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.