Spirited Bidding in Americana, Travel & Exploration, History & Cartography at PBA Galleries

PBA Galleries saw strong prices realized in their August 10th 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 autograph letter by the first African-American Harvard graduate, early 20th century photographs of Hangzhou, China, and Captain F. Brinkley’s ten volume set of Japan: Described and Illustrated by the Japanese; Written by Eminent Japanese Authorities and Scholars.

A fascinating and rare album with 46 gelatin silver photographs of Hangzhou, China sold for $2,400, three times the presale high estimate. The prints depict various locales around the area in the early 20th century. Hangzhou, formerly Romanized as Hangchow, is the capital and most populous city of the Zhejiang Province in eastern China. Each view has an accompanying tissue guard and a paragraph of detailed description both in Chinese and English.

Another lot about the mysterious East, a limited Edition de Luxe of Captain F. Brinkley’s ten volumes on Japan sold for $3,300, more than four times the presale high estimate. Dating from the late 19th century the set is illustrated with classic hand-colored albumen photographs of various Japanese views, including tea ceremonies, bridges, gardens cherry blossoms, flower and produce vendors, temples and the Bronze Buddha at Kamakura. Also pictured is Mt. Fuji, theatre scenes, city and rural life, rickshaws, fishermaidens, and women in traditional dress.

A WWII French map of Germany, almost certainly a battlefront map, sold for $1,560, triple its presale estimate. The map was possibly used by U.S. Intelligence officers watching Soviet movements in German-held territory as there are red pencil writings indicating Soviet Russian troop movements in Germany and Czechoslovakia. Also appearing are names of Russian commanders and the date May 6 [1945], which is the day the Soviet battle for Prague began, just before the Nazi German capitulation.

Richard T. Greener was the first African-American graduate of Harvard and the first black faculty member at the University of South Carolina. An autograph letter signed by him on hotel stationery, written while he furiously campaigned among black voters in Ohio for the Republican presidential candidate James G. Blaine, sold for $1,440. Greener was considered an African-American visionary and was well-regarded by Republican Party managers whom he served as an orator of black audiences during the campaign. Despite his work, Blaine lost the election to Grover Cleveland.

Other lots doing well in the sale were a rare first edition of the first Peter Parley book, selling for $6,000, a respectable price despite lacking one leaf and being rebound in modern morocco & cloth; an early copy of the subscriber’s edition of Anson’s famous voyage around the world, selling for $3,600; the Pioneers Edition of The World in the Air: The Story of Flying in Pictures, signed by important figures in aviation history and selling for $3,300; the striking clipper ship sailing card Wild Rover! with iconic image representing sail versus steam selling for $1,800; and a Custer fight survivor's copy of Longstreet’s Civil War memoir From Manassas to Appomattox, selling for $1,680, well over the presale estimate.

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 pba@pbagalleries.com.

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