The print signed Dali and the fine art prints signed by Hiroshi Yoshida change hands in Holabird from December 17 to 19…

Pair of signed and labeled fine art prints by famous Japanese landscape artist Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), titled Kura in Tomonoura and Lugano, each signed in pencil ($3,125).
Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC

RENO, Nevada — An 1878 Chinese Wells Fargo Express Western Directory sold for $13,750, while signed and numbered photographs by Western photographer Ansel Adams (1902-1984) and rare tokens from the glory days of the era Gold Rush Americans all did well in Western Americana Collections’ Holabird December Dreams: Premier Americana Auction held Dec. 17-19.

The three-day sale, held online and live at the Holabird Gallery in Reno, featured more than 1,900 lots of rare books, art, mining, numismatics, stock certificates, cards postal and more. Highlighted collections included other parts of the Ken Prag Postcard Collection, the Bill McIver Token and Medal Collection, the MacKenzie Montana Collection, and the Ron Lerch Western Collection.

Signed and numbered print by Salvador Dali, titled Thumb Tree (although the actual title of the work was not found online and is therefore unknown), numbered “59/350” ($2,625).
Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC

Here are highlights from the auction, which recorded an 80% sale of 1,900 lots. Around 7,500 people registered to bid, with the main categories being art, directories and numismatics. “We attract hundreds of new collectors with each sale,” said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections. All prices include buyer’s premium.

Day 1 contained over 600 lots of philatelic (stamps); military, political and firearms; game collectibles; and model railroading and toys. The postcards, many from the Ken Prag Collection, included maps of California (particularly wine country), Hawaii, Disney, Titanic, and Pioneer. The games section included artifacts from the Shirley Bovis Cowboy Museum in Tombstone, Arizona.

Of the 500 postcard sets in the Ken Prag collection, about 350 lots were California-related, but about 40 lots were Hawaii-themed. Lot 1370 was a collection of over 210 postcards with color renderings of rare and exotic fish from Hawaii. Most were from a series published for the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu. All date from the early 20th century. The lot went for $1,387.

Day 2 was filled with 683 book bundles (featuring Part 1 of the Ron Leach Western Yearbook Collection); mining and ephemeral artifacts; and stock and bond certificates, including mines and railways. There were about 200 directories in the Ron Lerch collection. Indexes are considered “primary source” material and as such are essential aspects of historical research.

The 1878 Wells Fargo Express Chinese Yearbook is one of the most sought after, rare and important of any Western yearbook and sold accordingly, for $13,750. It was a directory of Chinese homes in San Francisco, Sacramento, Stockton, Marysville, San Jose, Portland, and Virginia City for that year. It was well used and worn, with Chinese notes on the pages throughout.

Other notable repertoires, all from the Ron Leach collection, included the following:

  • A copy of the first edition of the Statistical and Commercial Yearbook of the Hawaiian Kingdom from 1880-1881, including a tourist guide. Every island in the Kingdom was listed, along with the officials, main villages and descriptions of the islands, along with colorful advertisements ($2,250).
  • A Brown’s Marysville, California Directory for the year commencing March, 1861, a general and commercial register of citizens with statistical tables, historical references and more, preceded by sketches of industrial enterprises and charities ($7,810).
  • A very rare copy of R. Dunbar & Co. Chinese Business Directory for 1897, listing all the principal Chinese merchants and manufacturers in the United States, Canada, and Hawaii, 216 pages from Brown, Meese & Craddock’s Press, San Francisco ($8,435).

Britton & Rey lithograph depicting scenes from the life of 19th century gold miners, titled Bar Room in the Mines and Long Tom, one of five known copies ($1,625).
Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC

Other Day 2 highlights include a prospectus issued by Wells Fargo in 1866 (Gold Hill, Nevada), extolling company thefts of money used by several WF agents to bet on mining stocks (3,375 $); and a Britton & Rey lithograph of a pair of scenes from the life of 19th century gold miners, titled Bar room in the Mines and long tomone of five known copies ($1,625).

A rare stereo view of gold miner Ed Schieffelin (who founded Tombstone, Arizona in 1877), showing him with a pick, breaking a boulder, taken by Charles O. Farciot, hammered for $3,125. Additionally, an 1863 42-share stock certificate for the Byron Gold & Silver Mining Co. (Sutro, Nevada), a company mentioned by Mark Twain in a letter dated February 3, 1863, ended at $812.

Day 3 was busy, with 614 lots of Native Americans (baskets and jewelry), art (with Ansel Adams, three signed prints by Salvador Dali, Thomas Kincaide, woodblock prints and Japanese prints and more), numismatics (including coins and currency, medals, and so-called dollars), tokens (with Part 2 of the Bill McIvor Nevada Token Collection), and Americana in general.

The signed and numbered photographs by Ansel Adams were from a special edition of fine prints by Photographs of Yosemite, California by Ansel Adams. Pictures included moon and half domethe tenth print made from this world-class 1960 photograph ($9,687); Fall of the bride’s veil, from 1958 to around 1970 ($7,500); and El Capitan in winteralso printed circa 1958-1970 ($5,625).

Offerings from Bill McIver Nevada’s collection of tokens and medals included the centerpiece of his collection: perhaps the best known 12.5-cent token from The Payteller (Rhyolite, Nevada), showing a bearded miner with a pickaxe , a shovel and a lunch bucket, plus a mountain and rising sun ($5,500); and a Copper Block Buffet gold nugget token (Valdez, Alaska), good for $1 ($2,625).

Other tokens included an extremely rare Rhyolite Token for the Southern Bar (“Good for a drink or a cigar”), very rare, round, 24mm, made by the LA Rubber Stamp Company ($2,125); and a Victor Venturino token from the town of Mineral Hill of Eureka County, Nev. (“Good for 12 ½ cents in trade”), round in shape, 25 mm, with what appeared to be a plug or hole ($2,500).

A great numismatic rarity was found in an 1851 letter. Prior to the establishment of a U.S. Mint branch in California, private companies made their own gold coins. Some were criticized in 1851 for not containing enough gold. These companies, including Dunbar & Co., have been “attacked” in the local press, hurting their value. Reacting to this adversity, the letter explains how Dunbar would heal and default. It is the first original document that deals with this important period.

The letter was signed by Dunbar & Co. and dated March 31, 1851, noting the receipt of 192 9/16 ounces of gold dust at $17.125 per ounce payable in coin (of gold) from Dunbar & Co .on demand,” or if said coin will not pay par at the time of such demand, the amount shall be refunded to the office of Dodge & Co. in current money in the hands of Henry D. Cogswell. It brought in $2,500.

A pair of beautifully signed and labeled fine art prints by renowned Japanese landscape artist Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950), titled Kura to Tomonoura and Lugano, each signed in pencil and both 10 ¼ inches by 15 ½ inches, went for $3,125. Also, a rare signed and numbered print by the Spanish surrealist master Salvador Dali, titled thumb shaft (although the actual title of the work has not been found online and is therefore unknown), numbered “59/350”, made $2,625.

Native Americana was led by a Tlingit Indian basket, 8 inches in diameter and 4 inches high, with seven faux swastikas embroidered in the middle band, circa 1900 ($1,000); a large box adorned with Haida (Alaska) patterns with patterns on all sides with inlays of seashells like bird and animal eyes, as well as typical red and black patterns ($625); and an unmarked vintage sterling silver and museum-quality turquoise gourd flower necklace with 20 gorgeous turquoise stones ($938).

Online auctions were done through iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com, Auctionzip.com.

Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC is always looking for new and important collections to bring to market. It prides itself on being a major source of selling Americana at the best prices available, having outsold any other similar company in the past decade alone. The company will soon have its entire sales database online, free of charge – nearly 200,000 lots sold since 2014.

To consign a unique piece or collection, you can call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can email fredholabird@gmail.com. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, visit www.holabirdamericana.com. Updates are released often.

Elaine F. Brim