• <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.
  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 3. Ritter's fascinating sundial world map (1610). $11500 to $13000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 590. Ruscelli's complete, third edition atlas (1574). $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 184. Superb pictorial map of Manhattan (1953). $700 to $850
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 5. Visscher's superb world map in contemporary color (1658). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 48. Sanson's highly desirable atlas of the Americas with 15 maps (1699). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 292. Very rare zoomorphic map of Europe during WWII (1939). $1800 to $2100
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 89. Rare map of the new United States prior to signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783). $3000 to $4000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 597. Manuscript geography book with 9 maps and colorful commentary (1834). $1500 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 588. Land grant signed by Confederate General John Buchanan Floyd (1851). $350 to $425
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 593. First printed atlas to contain a separate map of Texas (1835). $2500 to $3250
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 297. Charming Beatles map of Liverpool (1974). $475 to $600
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 591. Miniature atlas with 82 maps based on Duval (1678). $5500 to $6500

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2017 Issue

U. S. Supreme Court to Rule on Attempt to Seize Ancient Persian Tablets from the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute

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An ancient clay tablet from Persepolis (University of Chicago photo).

This is the month where the earliest "books" - ancient clay tablets – make their way into the news, legal news in particular. Not only was a settlement reached in the Hobby Lobby case (see article elsewhere in this issue), but the U. S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving ancient tablets owned by the government of Iran, but in the possession of a Chicago university since the 1930's. It is one of the rare cases where U. S. and Iranian thinking is aligned.

 

The case begins in 1997 under the most awful of circumstances. Some American tourists were visiting Israel when a suicide bomber detonated his arsenal, killing five Israelis and wounding several Americans. Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization that controls Gaza, claimed responsibility. Iran provides financial and other assistance to Hamas. With no chance to collect damages from Hamas, the Americans sued Iran in an American court. They were awarded a judgment against Iran in the amount of $71 million.

 

Iran didn't respond to the lawsuit. It did not recognize the right of U. S. courts to adjudicate claims over something that did not happen in America. So, the lower court ruled for the Americans, awarding them $71 million Iran had no intention of paying. That is when the Americans went back to court to seize Iranian property. Most property of the Iranian government was removed from America long ago, but the American plaintiffs discovered these very valuable ancient writings belonging to Iran were still in possession of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute. The tablets came from Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia. They were on long term loan since discovered by University of Chicago archaeologists in the 1930's. Iranian-American relations were better back then. The institute has been deciphering and studying them ever since, slowly returning pieces as they concluded their work. Despite the complete break down of government relations between the two countries after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, scholars and institutions are still able to cooperate with each other.

 

The Americans also sued to seize some antiquities held by Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. The Field purchased these in the 1930's, but the Americans claimed that they were stolen and smuggled out of the country all those years ago, making them still property of the Iranian government.

 

There is a doctrine known as Sovereign Immunity which applies to most cases of this sort. It prohibits citizens from suing foreign governments in their home country. The reason is clear – much mischief can happen if a nation constantly has to defend itself in foreign courts from complaints by individual citizens. To look at it from the other side, someone from, say, Germany or Korea or Qatar could sue the American government because they were injured in Syria when American planes bombed there, and and then attempt to seize our military bases in those countries as compensation. This is why the American government has aligned itself with Iran in this case. It doesn't like the precedent.

 

However, in the age of terrorism, Congress still wanted to punish countries involved in state sponsored terrorism. So, it passed an exception to the sovereign immunity act. It said Americans could sue another country if they were victims of terrorism. That was the Americans' claim.

 

Initially, the lower court ruled that sovereign immunity did not apply because the Iranian government did not show up in court to plead it. Use it or lose it. The institutions holding the tablets pleaded sovereign immunity on behalf of Iran, and the U. S. government filed a brief supporting the claim, but the court said no, only Iran could make that claim and it failed to do so. The plaintiffs then sued to collect their $71 million by seizing the assets being held by the institutions. This time, Iran showed up.

 

Still, this did not guarantee that the plaintiffs could actually collect Iranian assets. The statute provides that only assets used for commercial purposes can be seized. So, the plaintiffs' lawyers came up with a clever end-around. They demanded Iran tell them about all assets they owned in the United States, since they had consented to American jurisdiction by showing up. This way, if the institutionally held items were found not to be used for commercial purposes, the plaintiffs hoped to locate other assets that were. Iran said no thank you.

 

On appeal, the higher court said no, Iran could not be compelled to to turn over lists of everything it owns in America, and, since the presumption is that sovereign immunity applies, the plaintiffs must prove an exception, rather than Iran being obligated to come to court and prove it applies.

 

The case went back to a lower court, and this time, that court ruled that the commercial exception to the sovereign immunity rule did not apply to the Persian tablets, so it awarded judgment to Iran. The Americans appealed, arguing that since the institutions were using the collections commercially, the commercial exception did apply. Again the appeals court said no, that the state itself must be the one using the assets commercially. However, a different appeals court in another case ruled differently on another matter, so to straighten this out, the Supreme Court will now take up the case. Only the Oriental Institute case will be heard, the Field Museum claim having been dropped.

 

Rather than determining whether the assets are commercial, the decision will be made on the basis of the other court's conclusion that the distinction between commercial and non-commercial use does not apply in the case of the terrorism exception to sovereign immunity. If the Supreme Court rules that it doesn't matter whether the property was used commercially, the American plaintiffs may yet get to take the ancient tablets from the Oriental Institute almost a century after they arrived and put them up for sale at auction.

 

As much as I sympathize with the plaintiffs' plight, this just doesn't sound right. It should be noted that such a remedy is likely to work only once. Anything else owned by Iran, or other countries that might feel threatened, will quickly be repatriated. Studies and displays such as those in Chicago, that have survived political animosities, will no longer continue. Meanwhile, retaliation on the part of those countries can be expected. A similar standoff is going on between the U.S. and Russia now. Chabad-Lubavitch, the Hasidic Jewish movement, won a verdict in a U. S. court that books they once owned years ago but are now held by and in Russia, should be returned to them. Russia had loaned seven of the books to the Library of Congress, whom the U. S. court ordered seized. The result is that Russia no longer loans such artifacts to anyone in the U. S. for exhibitions, and the U. S. does the same with Russia. Now, all but the one winner are losers. Diplomacy and legal claims are more suitable to being handled by nations, which can consider all of the ramifications to their national interests, than by individuals whose personal interests may be inconsistent with those of the country as a whole.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
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    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Renaissance Manuscript featuring two Dialogues by Plato, with translation from the Greek and learned discourse by Leonardo Bruni, called Aretino. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Isaac Newton on the plague. Autograph Manuscript, being Newton's notes on reading Van Helmont's "De Peste." $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("A. Einstein"), to "Die 'A.E. Group' in New York" humorously accepting his role as patron saint, and offering a motto for their members. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> LOBACHEVSKY, NIKOLAI. Document Signed ("Lobachevsky"), and accomplished in Manuscript, a letter of designation in his role as Curator of Regional Education in Kazan. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WITTGENSTEIN, LUDWIG. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ludwig Wittgenstein") to Moritz Schlick discussing Gödel's incompleteness theorems. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ch Darwin") to Alexander Agassiz regarding gradation of structure in pediculariæ. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> PAULI, WOLFGANG; BOHM, DAVID. Typed Letter Signed ("W. Pauli") to physicist David Bohm offering his second and final critique of Bohm's hugely influential 1952 paper. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Walt Whitman"), a draft of the final lines to his final poem "A Thought of Columbus." $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> KANT, IMMANUEL. Autograph Quotation Signed ("Immanuel Kant"), from an album amicorum. <i>"Quod petis in te est, ne te quaesiveris extra."</i> $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE. Photograph Signed ("Mark Twain") and Inscribed, with the witty aphorism, "Admonitions—harvested from the wisdom of the ages: Physician, heal thyself. Patient, heel thyself." $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Newton (Sir Isaac). <i>Opticks…,</i> first edition, presentation copy to Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and with his ink and pencil annotations. £300,000 to £400,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Aliotti (Girolamo). <i>Gratulatio ad Pium II pro foelici, ac secundo ex Mantuana peregrinatione reditu…,</i> illuminated manuscript on fine vellum, in Latin, Florence, 1460. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Sangorski (Alberto).- Keats (John). <i>La Belle Dame sans Merci...,</i> illuminated manuscript on vellum, magnificently bound in morocco elaborately tooled in gilt & inlaid with 137 jewels, 1928. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Miniature Book.- Taylor (John). <i>Verbum sempiternum [&] Salvator mundi,</i> 2 parts in 1, contemporary embroidered dos a dos binding, 1614. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Bodoni.- Rossi (Giovanni Gherado de). <i>Scherzi Poetici e Pittorici,</i> with original gouache drawings bound in, Neoclassical red straight-grain morocco, gilt, Parma, Bodoni, 1795. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Palladio (Andrea). <i>I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura,</i> first edition, Venice, Domenico de' Franceschi, 1570. £14,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Voyages.- Lowther (Rear Admiral Marcus, 1820-1908). An album of 166 original watercolours and drawings made on voyages between 1842 and 1853. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection,</i> third edition (seventh thousand), presentation copy to Robert Colgate, John Murray, 1861. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Jane Austen's Family - ?C[ooper] (E[dward], married Jane Leigh (1736-83), sister of Cassandra Leigh (1739-1827), married George Austen (1731-1805), parents of Jane Austen. Miscellanies, poems dated btwn. 1750-88.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Americas.- Herrera y Tordesillas (Antonio). <i>Novus orbis, sive descriptio Indiae occidentalis,</i> 4 parts in 1 vol., Amsterdam, Colijn, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Canada.- Baker (Lt. Col. Sir Edward). An Eye Sketch of the Fall of Niagara, [c. 1795.] £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Dance.- Caroso (Fabrizio). <i>Il Ballarino,</i> first edition, Venice, Francesco Ziletti, 1581. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.

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