Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2011 Issue

In The News:  A Terrible Crime, a Book Thief's Book, and Carl Crawford's Bookstore.

Mrpink

"Mr. Pink's" story of the Transylvania book heist.

A terrible story came out of Salt Lake City a few weeks ago of the street dangers rarely experienced in the book trade. Respected bookseller Sherry Black was brutally murdered in her store, in a case that is still unresolved at this time. Mrs. Black was reportedly beaten and stabbed several times, with extensive blood loss at the scene. Several books were reportedly stolen, but the level of violence displayed in the killing suggests that perhaps this was more than a simple theft gone awry.

 

The killing gathered even more local attention because Mrs. Black was the mother-in-law of one of Salt Lake City's more prominent citizens. Her son-in-law is Greg Miller, CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group. This firm is the owner of the Utah Jazz, Salt Lake City's NBA basketball team, the city's only major league professional sports team. A moment of silence was held before one of the team's recent games in her memory.

 

While no suspects have been named, there apparently has been an investigation relating to an incident last year when she unknowingly purchased some stolen books. Mormon books are among the most highly collectible of works, and these had been stolen from the library of one of the leaders of an offshoot of the larger Church of Latter Day Saints. The books had been stolen by the owner's son, who sold them to Mrs. Black. The son had reportedly threatened violence to his father, saying he was a member of a gang which would exact retribution if he pressed charges. Mrs. Black returned the books once she learned of the source, but it appears police believe there may be a connection between this incident and her murder.

 

Criminals sometimes get two chances to profit from their crimes:  once when they steal the goods, the second time when they write the book. Charles Allen, one of the four participants in the Transylvania book heist, has published a book detailing his recollections of the planning, execution, and aftermath of the incident. Mr. Allen and three other college students pulled off a heist of books at the Transylvania University Library in Kentucky a few years back. They took some valuable books, although the taking of some incomplete sets indicated an at best limited understanding of book collecting. They did themselves no favors by resorting to an assault on the librarian, zapping her with stun gun to keep her quiet (in court, they argued it was just a stun "pen," an attempt to minimize the assault that fell on deaf ears).

 

Their next step was to attempt to sell the books to Christie's in New York. Apparently they believed Christie's would not be suspicious of a few young men with no knowledge of rare books trying to sell them some Audubons. They were wrong. Having used one of the participants email address to contact the auction house, it was easy to track them down. The men were convicted and Allen was sentenced to 87 months in prison. He is still serving that sentence. He sent notes out to his brother who compiled this self-published book.

 

The title of the book is Mr. Pink. The thieves used colors for their code names. It appears to be available in a few stores in Kentucky and is also be hawked on the internet. Perhaps he will one day sell the rights for a made-for-TV movie, though I hope not. One does not want to see them profiting in any way for their behavior, but wishes them well if, after they have served their times, they put all of this behind them and change their lives, rather than attempting to profit from their sordid past.

 

One of the stranger stories hit the newswires last month, though alas, it all proved to be fiction. A blogger on the website of the Kansas City Royals reported that Carl Crawford, newly signed outfielder of the Boston Red Sox, was planning on opening an antiquarian bookshop in his new home. Crawford was depicted as being a collector of early Americana, Plymouth, Puritans and such, and now had the money to realize his lifelong dream of running a bookstore. Certainly Mr. Crawford would be able to absorb the losses that generally come with bookselling as his contract with the Red Sox called for him to be paid $142 million. Not even a bookshop could lose that much very easily.

 

The story hit the newswires, a heartwarming piece for those who love old books. Here was a wealthy baseball player who appreciated books too, an incongruous, too good to be true piece of news. Of course, it was. However, Mr. Crawford apparently aided the hoax when it first came out by posting a "tweet" saying that yes, he was going to open such a store. Anyone who has just been paid $142 million is likely to be in a happy, jocular mood. Still, the entire story was a joke, and it is hard to see why several legitimate news sources fell for it. All of the articles quoted the original blog from the Kansas City Royals website. That this site would get a scoop should have raised red flags, particularly when the story was so hard to believe. The Kansas City Royals have as little to do with Mr. Crawford as they do with winning baseball games. His previous address was Tampa, not Kansas City. The blog writer has since admitted it was a joke, and Crawford can be expected to dedicate the next seven years (the length of his contract) to playing baseball. After that, maybe, just maybe…

 

 

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <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>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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