The British auction house Bonhams is offering two Nabokov lots—one an early book of poems, rebound, and the other a set of correspondence between Véra and an editor—on 17 February (a Sunday) at its San Francisco branch (auction #20940).
The auction house’s own descriptions are:
- (Lot 6237) Gornii put’. [The Empyrean Path.] Berlin: Grani, 1923. 8vo. 180, [1 ad] pp. Modern quarter cloth, morocco spine label. Title toned and with two small marginal repairs, ad leaf detached. FIRST EDITION of this very early collection of poems, among Nabokov’s first publications. The Nabokov family moved to Berlin in 1920. Juliar A6.1. Estimate: US$ 1,000–1,500
- (Lot 6238) 4 Typed Letters Signed and 1 Holiday Card Signed (“Véra Nabokov” and “V. and V. Nabokov” in Véra’s hand ), including 1 with Nabokov’s butterfly insignia, 4 pp, 8vo and 4to, Montreux, Switzerland, 1967-1972, to Peter Kemeny, w/ 3 original transmittal envelopes, some wrinkling and creasing, tears to blank margins of one letter. Véra writes to Kemeny, Vladimir’s one time editor at McGraw-Hill, about Kemeny’s planned visits to Europe, news of family, thanking him for letters, etc. On March 3, 1972, she writes, “VN is deep, deep in his new book, to be titled TRANSPARENT THINGS.” In the same letter she registers her and Vladimir’s opinions of Updike’s Rabbit: VN always finds a million of [sic] things that he loves in Updike’s books. To be quite frank, I was not enthusiastic.” Estimate: US$ 800–1,200
There is nothing special about the material. The Gornii put’ is not in its original wrappers, it appears that the original covers may not even have been bound in, and the ad leaf is detached. (In comparison, in New York on 5 December Bonhams moved a very, very nice copy of Gornii put’ for $3800, before the premium.) The letters are not in Nabokov’s hand or even composed by him, though one has been lepidopterized. The estimates are fair, reflecting these shortcomings. The buyer’s premium is the usual 25%.