PBA Galleries

Pacific Book Auction Galleries was founded in 1992, changing its name to PBA Galleries in 2001. The auction house holds regular sales at its galleries in the Van Ness area of San Francisco.

Specialising in rare books and manuscripts, their sales often focus on a particular area of collecting such as cartography, exploration, children’s books and Americana. They also offer private library sales.


War on the American frontier is the focus of San Francisco sale

17 September 2018

Accounts of wars and skirmishes in the southern states of North America and Mexico were one notable feature of an August 23 sale held in San Francisco.


A ten shilling, ‘thick paper’ Federalist

18 June 2018

The Federalist…, a collection of essays first published in New York newspapers in the years immediately following independence, is today recognised as a seminal work on American political theory and a cornerstone of constitutional governance.

Golf book

First golf book tees off in the US

30 April 2018

Published in 1895, Wright & Dixon’s Guide to American Golf… was one of the very first books on the game to appear in that country. A copy sold on April 12 in San Francisco for $42,500 (£29,930) was billed as “perhaps the only copy extant”.


Busman on a honeymoon

26 March 2018

'Busman’s Honeymoon: A Love Story with Detective Interruptions' was the 11th and last of the Dorothy L Sayers books featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.


Plastic surgery fits the bill at auction

12 March 2018

A number of books on plastic surgery featured in a recent Californian sale including an 1833, first English edition of Johann F Dieffenbach’s Surgical Observations on the Restoration of the Nose.


There’s gold in them thar hills…

12 February 2018

Published jointly by Kellogg & Comstock of New York and D Needham of Buffalo, c.1849-50, the rare and amusing hand coloured lithograph shown below is titled The Independent Gold Hunter on His Way to California: I Neither Borrow nor Lend.


Fairy tales and Dr Seuss fascinate in the Big Apple

27 November 2017

Harry Clarke worked for three years on his first major book illustration commission, an edition of the Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen commissioned by Harrap.


Shelley signature competes with rare sci-fi and fantasy

30 October 2017

Science, fantasy and horror was the principal theme of a PBA Galleries (20/15% buyer’s premium) sale of October 5, though there were also books to appeal to broader literary tastes.


Hunting tales tracked down at auction

26 June 2017

Some of the more successful lots in a June 1 sale at PBA Galleries (20/15% buyer’s premium) of the first portion of the Richard Beagle collection of angling and sporting books were scarce accounts of early hunting trips in the Yukon and Wyoming.


Historian has a swing at covering ‘world’s first golf club’

08 May 2017

Best round scores in the most recent PBA Galleries (20/15% buyer’s premium) golfing sale came with the appearance of a group of the papers of golfing historian and collector CB Clapcott.


Literary path begins for Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain

08 May 2017

Compiled by J Wells Kelly and published in San Francisco in 1862, a rare copy of the First Directory of Nevada Territory…, which was worn, dry and splitting but in original, leather-backed printed boards, sold for $6500 (£5080) in a PBA Galleries sale of April 20.


DNA identified as major Californian sale attraction

24 April 2017

A major attraction in a PBA Galleries (20/15% buyer’s premium) sale of April 6 was the Samuel Hessel ‘DNA’ collection of scientific papers, journals and books.


Fighting for freedom and fighting on the Texas frontier

29 September 2004

AN escaped slave who became a prominent social reformer, journalist and public official, Frederick Douglass (1817-95) published a first account of his life in 1845, but revised and extended versions followed in 1855 and, finally in 1881 as The Life and Times...


The wonderful industry of Oziana

16 September 2004

THERE are few things so distinctly American in the book auction world as the collections of ‘Oziana’ that arrive in the salerooms with remarkable regularity.


Frankenstein and the fireproof book

22 June 2004

A TYPED first draft of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer in which he uses real names of characters and places, not the pseudonyms of the finished book, carried a $100,000-150,000 estimate in a May 27 modern literature sale held in San Francisco by PBA Galleries but it joined a long list of unsold lots.


Californian Wizardry

02 June 2004

A children’s and illustrated sale held by Pacific Book Auctions of San Francisco on May 13 included a collection of Oz books by L. Frank Baum.

William Randolph Hearst and his Bavarian connections...

05 May 2004

RECENT auctions held by Pacific Book Auctions have tended to be driven to a large extent by absentee bidding and by those using the ‘Real-Time Bidder’ internet option, but for a March 25 sale devoted to one man’s collection of letters, photographs, drawings and other mementoes relating to the life of William Randolph Hearst, those old fashioned habits of turning up in the room or even just picking up a telephone were dusted off.

Wynkyn de Worde’s indulgence and Thomas Bewick’s extra illustrations ...

23 March 2004

THE rarest and probably the earliest piece of printing in a February 26 sale held by Pacific Book Auctions of San Francisco, the papal indulgence from Wynkyn de Worde’s press seen right, was bid to $13,000 (£6890), but there were some other early items in the collection of editions of Aesop’s Fables formed by the late Dr Margaret Rose Quentin that opened the auction.