Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2019 Issue

What Collecting is Becoming

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Selections from Freeman's and Christie's magazines

Collecting has been, to my way of thinking, about acquiring material within a focus and the discussions I’ve heard over the years invariably focused on the collecting of categories, be they records, postcards, paintings, or books to name a few.  Collecting in that way mirrored the way dealers approached their material which was important because they knew how to build focused inventories and collectors learned to interact with them.  For decades such an approach worked.

 

Beginning with the advent of the Internet the dealer’s critical role as aggregator of categories began to see their veils raised on what had been mainly secret:  many of their sources.  The outcome was the proliferation of collector-dealers who used this knowledge to find appealing values for resale as well exceptional examples for their own collections.

 

Along the way the collector’s footprint evolved as they were among the first to see that the Internet, that was undermining the old ways of buying and selling was also exposing hitherto unrecognized or unfindable material that fit very well into ever more focused collections.  And that’s where we are today, now moving into the era of uniquely focused subject collections that, only a few decades ago, were beyond the imaginations of all but the very few.  Today this collecting emerges as the new gold standard, the deeply satisfying integration of collectibles of many types.

 

Apropos of this trend two of the slick collecting and showcase magazines issued by auction houses; Freeman’s of Philadelphia and Lyon and Turnbull of the United Kingdom marketing together, and Christies of New York, London and various other cities, countries and continents, showed up in my mailbox.                     

 

They both project a sense of collecting as a deeper, more sophisticated engagement than mere categories.

 

In Freeman’s recent International View the following stories appear;

 

Across the Continents.  Property from the Collections of Ambassador & Mrs. Alexander Weddell – The Virginia House Museum

 

Modern Made.  Michael Ayerton and Kenneth Armitage

 

An Interview with a Champion.  The Collection of Victor Niederhoffer

 

Depths of Reality.  Antoni Tapies’ El Dolor de Brunhilda

 

Joan Eardley.  Capturing the Essence of Scotland

 

Cecilia Beaux.  Portrait of a Philadelphia Artist

 

 

The Christies’s Magazine provides an even more lush offering:

 

I bought it at Christie’s.  Robert Cooper on a favorite bureau and set of dining chairs

 

On Show.  Our pick of this month’s must-see art exhibitions around the world

 

My Space.  At home with David Collins Studio Founder and CEO Iain Watson

 

Artists in focus.  Four distinctive contemporary artists – from Germany, Japan, Ethiopia and the UK – whose work explores urban landscapes

 

The way I see it.  The 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death inspires Andrew Graham-Dixon to take a fresh look at his tumultuous masterpiece, The Night Watch

 

Innovator in ink.  Artist Chloe Ho has made a splash in  the Hong Kong art world and beyond with contemporary works that are part of a great Chinese tradition

 

Collectors & collections.  Four collectors based in Texas share their passion for illuminated manuscripts, mechanical toy banks, antique dolls and Japanese armor

 

Reach for the stars.  Beth Moon’s photographs of trees around the world resonate with cosmic significance

 

Minimal interference.   Forward -thinking Swiss gallerists Gianfranco and Annemarie Verna have been showing work by the pioneers of minimalists art for more than 50 years

 

Double vision.  Tobias Rehberger’s art creates unlikely pairings,  from a flagship fashion store covered in razzle-dazzle camouflage to an art gallery with its own butcher’s shop

 

That was then.  Alighiero Boetti with friends (and owl) at his hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, 1971

 

And what do all these stories have in common?  They convey eclectic taste, choices and inclusion, A place where you can find your place.  And that’s significant because the boundaries between collecting categories are disappearing as collectors literally invent their take on how these elements fit together.

 

These magazines are worth obtaining for how they recast assumptions about collecting.  As a collector I’ve been encouraged to rethink my collecting objectives and acknowledge that narrower, deeper collecting is not only possible, it’s also more challenging and satisfying.

 

Left unsaid is how such collections will be disposed.  For some years I’ve thought they will logically go to institutions but we are living in the era when the great institutional collections will also be refocused, many seeking unique perspectives they can dominate worldwide from a single college, university, institution or collector’s aerie.  The era of a little of this and a little of that without focus is ending.

 

These are wonderful and unsettling times and the next ten years will see seismic shifts in what collections encompass as well as how they are shared.  But for that to work out we’ll need to enfranchise a thousand new collectors to define their focuses and begin to own their unique territories because such collections, while absorbing thousands of items, will be narrow and that may weaken support for the category approach that has been the bedrock of the dealer approach to selling.

 

In the meantime talk to Christie’s and Freeman’s in the United States and Lyon & Turnbull in the UK.  Their magazines are must reads for understanding what collecting is becoming.  If they offer subscriptions, subscribe.

 

Here's a link for Christie's Magazine  which can be purchased for a single issue or for a year, 6 issues.

 

 Here is a link for Freeman's Magazine published twice annually.

 

 


Posted On: 2019-05-02 04:07
User Name: mairin

Bruce, your grasp of these serious issues is impressive ~ intelligent and prescient. All to say, "What Collecting Is Becoming" is a living classic, a must-read. Thank you for taking this on.

Maureen E. Mulvihill
Collector / Rare Book Hub Guest Writer, 2016 - .
_____


Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
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    <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.
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    <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.
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    <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
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    <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>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.
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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>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

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