Taken together, when building an original and complex collection of material generally beyond the standard collecting focuses the following criteria are in play:
1. The subject needs to be narrow and the well of possibilities deep.
2. The search terms and phrases for following the flow of material on listing sites, at auction and on eBay need to be relatively unique. Otherwise the effort to sort through matches will exceed the benefits of finding interesting material. Efficiency is very important.
3. Dealers will play a consistent role. You will pay them a premium but gain from their perspective; learn of material and connections that enrich.
Here then is the outcome of two purchases from Bill and Peter. Might they have shown up from other sellers? Possibly. At better prices? Not necessarily because both dealers discounted to sell their groups.
A list of what they offered, and I subsequently bought, goes a long way to explain why dealers play an important role in the building of focused collections.
Peter Luke offered me the following:
The Parish Will Case. Argument of John K. Porter on behalf of the respondents in the Court of Appeals of the State of New York, January 10, 1862. Munselliana indicates 600 copies were printed but the item seems more uncommon than that. A nice copy of this 72 page pamphlet.
Two pamphlets: Facts and Suggestions Relating to the New-York and Albany Railroad, 1832 and The New-York and Albany Rail-Road [with map], 1833. Exceptionally rare pamphlets printed at the dawn of the age of railroads.
Picturesque Catskills. The Wonder of New York State. Printed by F. A Gallt, Kingston, New York, 1924. 64 pgs. Plus printed wraps. A very clear commercial perspective.
Address to the Public of The Lake Mohonk Conference held at Lake Mohonk, N. Y., October 1883 in behalf of the Civilization and Legal Protection of the Indians in the United States. For many years these conferences were held at the mountaintop resort and after each a pamphlet or two would be issued to note the events and publish speeches and reports. One of the founding brothers of Mohonk Mountain House, Albert K. Smiley, was a member of the Board of Indian Commissioners.
Greene County Almanack for the year of our Lord, 1828. Published at Catskill by N. Elliott, Book-seller, printed by A. Stoddard, Hudson. A fragile and well-worn 32 pg. ephemera meant to disappear in 1829. The printer was probably the initiator of this project and N. Elliott, one of probably several publishers who in exchange for the printing of their indicia on the title page agreed to buy some specific quantity. Such almanacks were printed for many years.
Prospectus – 1st Mortgage Preferred Bonds of the Jersey City and Albany Railway Co. Whole Issue, $100,000 being at the rate of $4,000 per mile. Interest 7 per cent. [with map] Printed by George W. Dickson, Jr., Printer, 100 William St., New York. The JC & A was a short-lived stage in the building of a Hudson River west shore railroad system linking New York to Albany and points west. This is a prospectus for hearty investors buying into a murky future. The map is priceless, showing the Wallkill Valley Railroad, at what history now tells us, was its paramount moment. A gem.
Van Loan’s Catskill Mountain Guide – 1890. Published by Walton Van Loan, Catskill, N. Y. 136 pgs. plus printed covers. A worn copy of a priceless perspective.
A Discourse of the Life, Character and Services of Daniel Webster, pronounced in the Reformed Dutch Church of Saugerties on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25th, 1852 by C. Van Santvoord. Senator Webster died at Marshfield on October 24th, 1852. 30 pgs, lacking covers and disbound.
Dedication – Monument – 20th New York State Militia at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, October 4th, 1888. A monument in stone to remember the blood and courage of local men. Including a poem, The Ulster Guard at Gettysburg, by Henry Abbey, of Kingston. 48 pgs plus printed wraps.
A 32 pg. pamphlet – Saugerties Evening[Steamboat] Line to the Catskills – new and elegant steamers, The Steamer Ida and the Steamer Ulster, for the 1907 season. Schedules, advertisements and illustrations – life before the automobile would alter so much.