Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2018 Issue

Saturday Morning on Mainline Television

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Many auctions, millions of dollars - for old and rare cars impeccably maintained or restored

On a recent Saturday, flipping through the now hundreds of TV channels looking for something worth watching I chanced across the future of important rare and collectible paper auctions.  There, at noon on the NBC affiliate covering the San Francisco Bay Area was an auction, yes an auction.

 

It was the Saturday Mecum Car Auction at Pebble Beach held during the antique car get-together where astounding classic cars are sold for even more astounding prices.  Pride of place during the weekend show went to a car that wasn’t made until I was sixteen years old, a 1962 Ferrari GTO 250 that brought $48.4 million.  More to my taste, if not my pocketbook, was a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ that changed hands for $22 million.  Personally, I preferred the 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Convertible Victoria that sold for $3,745,000.  That would have been an excellent car for dating in my teens. 

 

What’s interesting about these sales is that if NBC can show a car auction it’s also possible for rare books to be on mainline television.  So, what would it take?

 

For starters it’s all about money, both the highest values and the number of lots showcased during say an hour.  The cars I watched each spent about five minutes in the pits.  For rare books, given that the values will be lower, the flow would need to be closer to one minute and even then, the material would need to be exalted, probably a ten-million-dollar minimum.

 

So, are there enough very valuable items that could be sold in that hour?   Yes but inevitably it will take not only exalted but also very famous material and that means we may not see a rare book auction on main line television until a Gutenberg Bible is offered.  The next copy, assuming it is sumptuous and very original, should bring fifty million dollars.

 

Such a sale would be very good both for the trade and for book collecting.  With all the collecting and gaming opportunities that abound book collecting can look like Grandpa’s thing.  But if rare books, maps, manuscripts and ephemera can break into the space where the current and future generations of collectors are relaxed and open to new perspectives collectible paper will make a very good case. 

 

Those of us of a certain age know that such material is exceptionally satisfying to study and collect.  Our challenge has long been attracting the attention of future collectors.

 

Therefore, if you have a Gutenberg, and understand it is different from a Duesenberg, think about selling it and suggesting the auction house you select use an hour of mainline television to showcase the experience to the emerging next generation of collectors.

 

It will make a difference.


Posted On: 2018-09-01 10:09
User Name: gallery18

Live-streaming of some auctions is already well established online. With the addition of enhanced production values and commentary and, yes, some stage craft, there's every potential for auctions to become engaging TV fare. In fact, I'm surprised we've not yet seen the creation of a dedicated Auction Channel.


Posted On: 2018-09-01 14:06
User Name: henryberry

As I've often said to my friends and colleagues in the ephemera and antiquarian book trade in and around Connecticut, one of my disappointments with this field is the lack of publicity and promotion in the media, or often amateurish or dull articles when they are seen. Though I'm seeing over the past couple of years much improved efforts, for example with some book shows and some dealers. Long involved in the field, just yesterday I created a blog named Ephemera Today (https://ephemeratoday.blogspot.com). I was inspired not only because of my indefatigable curiosity in books, maps, archival material, etc. — chronic reader, peering into any book I see disease, poring over areas of maps and their design malady, and such — but also because I would like to be doing something to spread news and reports about the commercial value of these materials. Being in the field entails not only challenges regarding knowledge, expertise, and the gaining of relevant experience, but also for serious dealers an investment mindset taking into consideration current and future market conditions, the relationship between social interests and sometimes mores and the affect of this on market value, and risk-reward calculations. I unapologetically bring together items of significant cultural worth and commercial value for such, though do not equate the two since a lot of this has to do with current and changing social interests, events, and demographics (i. e., generational preferences). I could go on... My first article at Ephemera Today to be written over the weekend and posted no later than Monday afternoon is titled "Uncertainties in the Black Americana Market." I'm interested in hearing from others about little-known or recently discovered ephemera, stories of discoveries, ideas for marketing, shaping one's business and managing inventory, emerging markets, and other topics of interest to dealers and the public (henryberryinct@gmail.com).


Posted On: 2018-09-03 01:05
User Name: hermeticsurveyor

Recently I spent some time on youtube looking at videos about book collecting. Almost without exception they were atrociously boring! Talking heads in front of a wall of books is boring, no?

Since then I've hired a videographer and we will experiment, there must be better ways of showing the world how fascinating old books and documents are. One of my favorite vidoes is the episode Anthony Bourdain did inside one of Zubal's warehouses, with the pipes still full of Twinky cream! Here is the 4 min vid. http://www.zubalbooks.com/article-anthony-bourdain.jsp


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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