Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2011 Issue

Library and Institution Acquisitions - Some tips for booksellers

Stanulib

The library at Stanford University.

A few months ago, I got a query from an East Coast library wanting a particularly expensive art book that I had in my inventory.  I replied that I had it, they bought it without quibbling at the price, and I sent it off to its new home.  I often get queries from libraries and historical societies on the books in my store - usually very scarce or hard-to-find things – the last being last month; Feeding the Lions, An Algonquin Cookbook.  It was a signed first from 1942 and in very nice condition with just minor bumping and a slightly disheveled, but very good dust jacket.  Up until that time, I had not really given much thought to selling to libraries or other organizations.

 

I am asked with some regularity to appraise books for the local State Archives and in return they occasionally buy local and western history volumes from me, which is my specialty.

 

This set me to wondering if that might be a good source for me, which, in turn, set me to inquiring about the process of how these libraries and other institutions, such as our local Historical Society, acquire their books.  I didn’t think they just got online to Amazon and ABE, though sometimes, I found out, they do.  I called a few of the people in the various institutions with whom I have worked from time to time, but it had a domino effect in that I now have a whole bunch of information about different organizations and institutions from Nevada to California to New Mexico.  They generously imparted information on what they are looking for and how they go about buying. 

 

First, let me just say, everyone I talked with said that they really try to get rare or antiquarian books donated rather than buying them.  This, of course, is very sensible.  Second, most libraries have quite extensive collections of books and are very, very particular about what they buy and about the condition of the books.  They don’t call them “special” collections for nothing, you know.

 

Let’s start with the big kids and work down.  I talked at some length with Zachary Baker, the Assistant University Librarian for the Collection Development at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.  I talked to them because I do a lot of book buying at the Palo Alto FOL Store.

 

Baker is the Curator of Judaica and Hebraica in addition to his other duties.  He noted that because Stanford is a very large research library, differing from small colleges or public libraries, they collect across a vast array of disciplines on a very large scale.  They collect current publications retrospectively, and also volumes that appear in traditional printed form as well as in electronic and other formats.  They have hundreds of vendors in their data bases with whom they deal.

 

Professor Baker buys antiquarian books for his Judaica and Hebraica collection, and his other colleagues do the same for their specialties, as well.  They have a lot of specialized bibliographers and curators whose fields of expertise run the gamut from philosophy to African studies, to economics, polyscience, history, literature, etc., and each has a range of dealers with whom they do business.  Some are exclusive to the fields in which they deal and some have a large range of materials.  They can be people who do business out of their apartments and shops or they may be large distributors – “For example,” said Baker, “a fellow in Berlin who I met at an antiquarian book fair and whose catalogues I’ve been receiving for some time.  I look through and I ask if certain books are available then order what we want.”

 

Then I went to the two much, much smaller local libraries near where we live; the Washoe County Library in Reno and the Nevada Historical Society in Reno.  Their systems are very much like most small library systems all around the country.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750

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