Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2020 Issue

In Original Color


Hand-colored, digitally broken into 4 sections

Last summer I wrote Recently I was offered a second edition of Wade & Croome’s Panorama of the Hudson River, printed in 1846.  I look to understand the evolving waterfront of the Hudson River during the 19th century and this slim volume provides a remarkably detailed perspective.  I bought it at the offered price from Greg Gibson of Ten Pound Island and am well pleased for the rich detail provided.  This version is the plain one that was originally offered for $1.50.  Those with more money at the time could buy a hand-colored version for $2.00.


Fast forward to early December.  I have liked the black and white version enough to want a hand-colored copy and knew one was available when I price compared last summer.  The price for the black and white version, with 32 page account of the Hudson River shoreline was $1,000 and when I recently checked again, the lovely colored copy of the 1847 3rd edition with 38 page explanation of the shoreline that I had thought was a bit rich,  was still available and the sellers willing to consider an offer.  Now I have both.  The hand colored copy was $3,500.  It’s very pleasing


Out of curiosity, and because compound interest calculators are a click away on line, I looked to see what a fifty cent difference in 1847 would need to yield year over year to equal the $2,500 difference today.  If you guessed 5.08% you are correct.  The uncolored copy appreciated at the rate of 3.68% compounded.


Over the years I’ve learned that hand colored is far preferable to black and white and this example seems to bear out the significant price difference the market demands today.


Both dealers I bought these volumes from are in the ABAA and these experiences remind me there is a lot to be said for dealing with knowledgeable folks.  My collection is better for their contributions.


Ten Pound Island Book Co.  Greg Gibson.  www.tenpound.com


Antipodean Books, Maps & Prints.  David & Cathy Lilburne.   www.antipodean.com/

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