Strong Prices on Modern Literature at PBA Galleries

The Fine Literature and Fine Books auction at PBA Galleries on July 27th showed an upswing in prices of modern literature. Sales were strong with nearly 80% of lots sold and heating bidding on a number of the high spots.  It appears from these results and strong sales at other auction houses, the 19th & 20th century literature market has recovered from the lows of a few years ago. 

The first American edition of Moby-Dick; or, the Whale, though rebound in 20th century full brown levant morocco, sold for a healthy $9,600. Melville’s book is considered to be one of the most important American novels of the 19th century and is based on his experiences at sea and the actual sinking of the whaling boat, Essex, by a sperm whale in 1820. This edition followed the English edition by a month and contains thirty-five passages and the “Epilogue” omitted in the London printing. 

Selling for its presale high estimate of $6,000 was a first edition of J. D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye in a first issue jacket in very good condition. The jacket has the original "$3.00" printed price present and the photo credit of Salinger's portrait by Lotte Jacobi on rear panel, and with Salinger’s hair just touching the top edge of the rear panel. One of the best novels of the 20th century, it tells the classic story of the "cynical adolescent" Holden Caulfield.

The Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 24 volumes topped its presale estimate, selling for $5,400. Quite rare in the original paper dust jackets, this is one of 750 copies of the “Crowborough Edition,” signed by Doyle on the limitation page. The set has all of Doyle's major works, including The Sherlock Holmes series, The Lost World, The White Company, Sir Nigel, The Refuges, Memories, etc.

Other highlights of the sale selling above the presale high estimates include Estelle Doheny’s copy of The Red Badge of Courage. The first edition, first issue of Stephen Crane’s most enduring work about the American Civil War and a true high spot of American literature sold for $5,400. A First Edition, first issue of The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien sold for $5,100. A near fine copy of the second title in the high fantasy series Lord of the Rings trilogy, it contains a folding map of the Middle Earth tipped to the rear endpaper. A First edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's great masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, sold for $5,100, nearly twice its presale estimate. Considered to be the epitome of the Jazz Age in American literature, this copy is a first issue in the original dark green cloth housed in a custom cloth box.

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.

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@pbagalleries.com. PBA Galleries is located at 1233 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109.

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