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PBA Galleries (1 Viewer)

Has anyone here ever purchased anything via auction at pbagalleries? There is a bukowski auction (#455) coming up on 6/2/11. The website does not have any of the lots listed yet, however. I'm wondering if this is worth exploring further.

I'd be curious to hear about any pros and cons. I understand there is a 20% fee on the sale price but looking at previous auctions, the sale prices appear cheaper than abebooks and such.


Thanks in advance.
i haven't bought anything via pba, but i DO know that that auction lot belongs to the infamous "dermaface" from the olden days of ebay and the epic "manuscript deluge"...should be a good one, indeed. i hear he has quite the collection...
yeah, bid with confidence from PBA. For those that cannot attend, you can bid in advance, or can live-bid on the computer which is a ton of fun. Almost like being there...

"dermaface" from the olden days of ebay and the epic "manuscript deluge"...
Thankfully he is from the very tail end of the epic manuscript deluge. Otherwise the rest of us would have been shut out.

Ross Runfola and Nick Lawrence got into a pissing match that drove the price of manuscripts up to 5 to 10 times (and more in some cases) what they had been in the years before they started waving their dicks around.

Which at the time made me think - these have to be some dilettantes with no sense and lots of money to spend. Which would seem to be proven by selling everything a few years later, but what do I know.

mjp -- okay, you're nuts. 1) you paid $1395 for a 2 page manuscript poem, and you're not Ted Turner. 2) you posted your banking info on-line (or you cleverly doctored that scan to make us think those are your bank numbers). But just as a teaching lesson for the young, you should put little black out bars over ... wait a minute! That's not your check! That's "Nicolas Lawrence's" check! ... Never mind (it's still too much for a 2 page manuscript.)
I probably altered the routing number on his check...probably. I don't recall. And I don't care.

In the scheme of things I don't think it's too much for a two page manuscript. I don't know. I think they are undervalued, even though there are half a million of them out there. But it's his (and Runfola's) fault that the prices got to that point, so all I was doing was taking advantage of the situation they created. Because eventually I did get paid.
Hi all,

We are busily cataloguing for the upcoming June 2nd auction of all things Bukowski. The items will be posted online by mid-May. I'm providing the text of the related press release below which includes some of the highlights. Do let us know if you have any questions.

With thanks,

Shannon Kennedy
PBA Galleries

[email protected]

On June 2, 2011, PBA Galleries of San Francisco will offer at auction one of the finest private collections in existence of the literary and artistic work of the poet Charles Bukowski. Featuring a large selection of original typed, signed poems, a rare group of original paintings, and scarce broadsides and ephemera in additional to books, the collection presents a vivid picture of the earthy realism that was Charles Bukowski.

Dr. Ross Runfola, Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of Buffalo, was introduced to Charles Bukowski when his brother sent him a copy of Love is a Dog from Hell, and discovered a rare kinship with the alcohol-fueled poet and his work. Inspired to write poetry in the Bukowski mode, Runfola was also spurred to collect the creations of the German-American writer. After years of ferreting out rarities, haunting rare book shops, searching the internet, he has assembled a superb gathering, which he is now making available for sale at public auction.

Probably the most remarkable part of the collection is the nearly 175 original typed manuscripts, mostly poems, by Bukowski, many in the signed carbon or photocopy format that he would send to his publisher John Martin. Among the poems are "the copulative blues" from 1973, a signed and dated poem that was a gift to Runfola from Martin; "time off" written in 1978, a carbon signed and dated by Bukowski, a long poem (4 pages), with, suitably, a ring stain from a wine glass on the first page; and "Hawley's leaving town" from 1975, again a signed and dated carbon typescript, 1½ pages, this time with a coffee stain, and, notably, nearly 20 ink manuscript corrections by Bukowski

These rare manuscript poems by Bukowski are partnered with 35 or so original letters from Bukowski to various publishers, his agent and German translator Carl Weissner, assorted girlfriends and others, many offering rare insights into life and relationships.

Another high point of the auction is the superb selection of original art by Charles Bukowski, the finest private collection extant. Included are several self-portraits, abstract mixed media creations, expressionistic watercolors, still lifes, and more, fifteen pieces in all. A number of these were used in a show curated in 2007 by Donald Friedman on the theme of "The Writer's Brush," about the paintings and drawings of famous writers.

But these manuscripts and paintings would not be the sought-after rarities they are if Bukowski's raw poetry and short stories had not been published, and published they were after many years of rejection, and in large number. The printed books and broadsides are fittingly the core of the collection, and Ross Runfola has acquired the most difficult to obtain. Paramount among these is The Genius of the Crowd, perhaps the rarest of the "Top Twenty Bukowski Rarities" listed by Al Fogel. The 11-leaf poem in chapbook form, illustrated with prints by Paula Maria Savarino, was printed at the 7 Flowers Press in Cleveland, Ohio in 1966, in an edition of 103 copies, but all but 40 of these were confiscated and destroyed by the Cleveland police department, deeming it obscene. Charles Bukowski's first book, Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail, 1960, limited to 200 copies is also on the block, a fine, fresh copy in the original wrappers, very rare thus, with only the slightest rusting to the staples, a seemingly inevitable occurrence. Another rarity on offer is the printed broadside True Story, 1966, one of 30 copies, signed by Bukowski, the first publication of John Martin's Black Sparrow Press, which was to become Bukowski's primary, almost exclusive, publisher. Also from the Black Sparrow Press is a copy of their first hardcover book, At Terror Street and Agony Way, 1968, one of 75 copies with an original signed painting by Bukowski, their first book issued with an original painting. Finally, there is Bukowski's most popular book, Post Office, a novel based on his long tenure with the United States Postal Service. It is number 2 of 50 copies, from the collection of Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, hand-bound in boards by Earle Gray, with a cloth U.S. flag-motif spine, and an original painting by Bukowski. The book is in remarkably fine condition, with spine completely unfaded, rarely found thus.

The auction will be conducted at the San Francisco premises of PBA Galleries at 133 Kearny Street, starting at 1:00 p.m. on June 2, 2011. Printed catalogues will be available two to three weeks before the auction, and will also be posted on their website, www.pbagalleries.com. To order catalogues or make other inquiries, they can be emailed at [email protected], or by phone at 415-989-2665 or 866-999-7224.
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man, that painting from "burning in water" - #8 - looks like it's suffered some serious damage/paint loss.
A lot of it looks like dry brush strokes rather than the paint flaking off the paper. But yeah, some of it looks like it could be flaking. On the signature, mainly. Interesting, you can tell from the brush strokes on that "BUK" that he started the loops on his 'B' from the bottom. That's unusual.

Now I have seriously gone off the cliff of irrelevant minutiae. I think you can legally kill me at this point without repercussion...
Those tough early chaps are all here. Flower Fist, Longshot Poems, Run with the Hunted, Poems and Drawings. Even Genius of the Crowd. It took me years and years and years and YEARS to find these and here they all are under one roof. One stop shopping. For a price!
Hooch, I agree, it is a totally stunning collection.

So stunning in fact, that so far, (115 items) the low estimate is $96,850 and the high estimate is $147,300. Both numbers are bigger than my mortgage, so I feel as if I should throw in the towel and end this seemingly futile endeavor of collecting Bukowski books. Besides I am drooling over them now and would just end up ruining them by drooling on them if I owned them.
They have not even started listing the hundreds of manuscript poems/letters, plus the magazines. I am sad now that I never made it up to Buffalo to see the whole collection...
Yeah, I can only wonder how will they list mss. Separately or in small lots a la Groff?

edit: small lots it is...
don't forget that items can sell for as low as half the low estimate. given the economic climate, i'm sure the really rare items will sell for a lot, but it might be a good opportunity for others to pick up a lettered edition of a particular title for well below market.
I hope that they know what they are doing by listing 8 poems in a lot. The listings in the Groff auction, I feel, led to the low prices. Someone may be willing to pay $500 for one poem, but will not pay $2000 for 8 poems. This could cause the whole lot to sell for $1000, which comes out to about $120 per poem, which is crazy steal, but could be a possibility. Of course, for the sellers sake, who is a friend, I hope that I'm wrong and that some high rollers come out and pay dearly.
As many are, I'm completely fascinated by this auction. I have a couple thoughts/questions.

Bill, you know the seller -- if it's not weird to ask/tell, do you know why he's liquidating? It hasn't been a great time for sellers and it seems odd to me.

Secondly, does anyone think it's amoral/inappropriate for people on this list to call 'dibs' or discuss bidding plans for specific items beforehand? I just mean that I've got a meager amount of money I'd like to spend in this auction and I'd rather get something further down my want list at a good price than get into a bidding war and lose out altogether, if that makes sense.
Firstly, I the seller just decided to sell. We all get that way as collectors. I am looking to sell my collection and put the money into BoSP.

Secondly, I think that your competition will not really be from others on this list. It will be from book dealers and other collectors. What is the chance that you will want the exact same book as another member here and that you two will be the only ones? I think that there will be some book dealers there with deep pockets that will want to get as many items as cheaply as possible. They will likely bow out when the price does nto make it profitable to buy to resell. I don't think that anyone would be willing to back off an item that someone else "calls". Imagine if they did and you got a $1000 book at $250? They'd kick themselves for making that deal.

I may bid on a few items, but not sure yet. All my efforts have been on BoSP, but, damn, it is tempting! Most likely I will put in a few bids.

That's all pretty legitimate. On the seller selling, I get that. There are times where I simply feel 'over' collecting a particular author and want to move into something else.

I'm in the mode of 'holy crap all of this is really amazing', but I'm guessing other collectors have one or two 'must haves' they're eyeballing. So I'd rather go for a any item not as many people are interested in (therefore likely to be cheaper to me) while also not driving up the bids to a fellow board member (cheaper for them).

But as you say, the competition is all over, not just from the list, so it's really just wait and see.

I think that this is not much of a possibility.

More likely it will end up in the hands of several well known booksellers who specialize in Bukowski.

That is just my take.
The books arent badly priced and I'm considering buying some to make me feel better about other parts of my life that won't get better just by throwing money at them :).

But I hate the PBA take. They want too much just for hosting these things.
Well, the estimated price ranges are not final (and I see some swings in both directions), but that aside, I tend to agree that 20% (items less than $10,000, I believe) seems like a big chunk. In that regard, one has to consider what some of these cost on abe, and in that, some of the ranges on the lower-cost items might still suffer due to the 20% buyer's premium. But PBA ain't no ebay - they approach things like a proper auction house (marketing, proper photos, descriptions that won't leave you wondering what you're getting, etc.), and in that light, the cut is not out of line with the auction market in the U.S.

Edit: unless I'm missing something - does the seller get full auction price and only the premium goes to PBA? Or does the seller also relenquish a % to PBA?
Not so fast Shirley/Sheila :rollfool: - it seems that the buyer's premium is 20%, but items under $10,000 also hit the seller at 15%. So, for a $1000 item, seller gets $850, buyer pays $1,200 and PBA gets $350. At least that's how I read things.
From a fiscally responsible standpoint, I think my best approach to this auction may be getting myself arrested in the morning hours of 6/2 and instructing my girlfriend to NOT bail me out until the auction runs its course.

Some of this stuff looks nice, real nice, even with an additional 20% going to the house. And then other stuff seems really high like the hardbound Sparrow 25-36 for $2500-$3500. That has to be off by a factor of 10.

Thanks for the comments everyone. This will be my first pba experience and I am looking forward to the excitement of the runup.

I wonder if there will be a hardcopy catalogue available after the auction?
If bail is set at $1,000, you could put that toward a signed book or two and still put your feet up at home that night. And still be able to sit down comfortably, as it were.
I was just reading up on absentee bidding and it looks like I can do all of this way in advance. But what, where, how much? Too many goodies to choose from.

Oh sigh...
My advice? Pick one or two primary items you really want and focus on those.
Have one or two other (secondary pieces) lined up in case your primaries get jacked up too high.

Either that or punch a cop.

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