From two rare Western North Carolina volumes to a first edition of Les Misérables to a pair of inscribed works by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the staff at Brunk Auctions picks its favorite titles for 2020.

“The collection has been gathered over decades by a single owner. The titles reveal the family’s intellectual curiosity, a depth of learning, and an appreciation for the natural world,” remarked Rare Book Specialist Lee Lancaster. 

Of particular interest and rarity –and Lee’s favorite– are the two volumes about the landscape of Western North Carolina.

Lot 14 includes a copy of [A] Descriptive Illustrated Guide-Book to North Carolina Mountains, by Ida Chunn, 1881, in its original wrappers and accompanied by five tipped in black and white photographs. The second work in Lot 14, The Scenery of the Mountains of Western North Carolina and Northwestern South Carolina by Henry E. Colton, 1859, is bound in cloth, with gilt lettering to cover and four full page black and white illustrations. 

“These are wonderful works and highly desirable among collectors of Western North Carolina history. The five tipped in black and white photos are a rare treasure,” noted Lancaster.

Offered in the January 15th online sale are several important works that encompass our nation’s history. Lot 58 includes first edition copies of The White House Years: Mandate for Change 1953-1956, 1963 and The White House Years:  Waging Peace 1956-1961, 1965. These books are warmly inscribed by President Eisenhower on bookplates depicting his farm in Gettysburg. 

Lot 57 is another staff favorite. An impressive collection of silhouettes, facsimiles, and biographical sketches of renowned Americans who lived in the antebellum period, Lot 57 provides a lighter, but insightful look into American society. With its delightful silhouettes, this 1846 volume is a valuable historical and cultural record of America during this period.

Published across the pond, Lot 45 is a significant historical work from Scottish diarist and lawyer, James Boswell. Known as one of the greatest English biographies, this lot includes the two volume biography of the life of renowned 18th century British thinker and writer, Samuel Johnson. The 1791 work is a first edition, second state.

Also on offer is a rare first edition of Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, 1862. Lot 50 is a complete ten volume Brussels edition of Hugo’s master work is bound in leather over marbled boards with marbled endpapers, with five raised bands, and gilt title lettering. Rare Book Specialist Lee Lancaster notes that the first Brussels edition was published five days after the Paris edition –and that the publication priority has been an intensely debated topic for bibliographic circles for decades. 

An extraordinary compendium, Reichenbachia: Orchids Illustrated and Described, by F. Sander, 1888-1892, is an extraordinary four volume treatise on the flowering orchid plant. Lot 35 is bound in three quarter leather over marbled boards and features 192 exceptionally fine chromolithographed plates depicting various species and genera of orchids.

A Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, in his Majesty’s Ship, the Endeavour, by William Bligh, 1792, offers a historical narrative filled with adventure and curiosity. This work features the first pictured breadfruit in the Western world and is considered one of the most important books of travel and exploration. Lot 38 is accompanied by A Description of Pitcairn’s Island and its Inhabitants, 1832, as well. 

Set for January 15th, 2020, this auction includes a wide array of titles that connects us across period and place, each work an informative and inspiring look back as we head forward into a new decade. For more information about this auction or a particular volume in this sale, we invite you to visit us in Asheville or online at