Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2011 Issue

In The News:  Bail Revoked for Book Thief Charged with Murder, & More

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A 1948 Human Torch was one of the comics stolen from Homer Marciniak.

Bail has been revoked for the alleged mastermind in a case of a book theft that turned into a murder charge. In the summer of 2010, the U.S. attorney in Buffalo, New York, alleged Rico Vendetti hired three accomplices to rob the comic book collection of 77-year-old Homer Marciniak. Marciniak began his collection, estimated to be worth $40,000 - $100,000, while still a boy. Vendetti, who allegedly made a living selling comics and numerous other stolen items on eBay, saw Marciniak's collection as a good fit for his business. According to the indictment, Vendetti's modus operandi was not stealing goods himself, but purchasing things others had stolen, naturally at a discount to fair market value. He reportedly was taking in around $50,000 per month from his "business."

 

However, this particular theft turned deadly after the alleged accomplices entered the elderly man's home. Marciniak was beaten during the robbery. He was briefly hospitalized for cuts and bruises suffered during the attack. Later that evening, roughly ten hours later, Marciniak suffered a fatal heart attack. The indictment alleges this resulted from the psychological trauma Marciniak suffered as a result of the physical attack.

 

Last fall, the U.S. Attorney charged Vendetti and three others with murder and other counts. In late March, a grand jury handed down indictments against Vendetti, 41, Arlene Combs, 26, Albert Parsons, 42, and Donald Griffin, 23, for felony murder. Vendetti and Combs were also charged with racketeering and witness tampering. All four face mandatory life sentences without parole if convicted. U.S. Attorney William Hochul released a statement saying, "…what began as a local burglary case has - through the tireless efforts of local, county, state and federal officers - become a federal racketeering and murder case." The three accomplices were already in jail when the Judge on the case revoked Vendetti's bail. He, too, will now await trial in a prison cell.

 

A group of changes in consumer protection rules approved by the European Union's Parliament evidently has some booksellers irked. The one in particular that has them concerned is an extension of the time period in which purchasers have an unlimited right to return goods purchased online or through a catalogue. Currently that period is 7 days. The new rules extend that to 14. The purpose of the extension is to encourage more trade between the countries of the European Union. Consumers may be reluctant to purchase items shipped from another country. The expectation is that having a longer period of time to inspect the goods will give people more confidence to purchase items from across national borders.

 

However, according to an article in TheBookseller.com, the Antiquarian Booksellers Association has voiced opposition to the change. Their concern is that people could buy a book, have enough time to read it, and then return it without having to pay. Perhaps even worse, they theorized some people might buy a book, put it up for sale on eBay at a premium, and if it doesn't sell in 14 days, send it back. Certainly, these are concerns, though they may be more theoretical then actual. That's a lot of work for saving a small amount of money, and if someone regularly abuses the privilege a bookseller could cut that customer off. The effect of the change is likely to be small, but presuming it goes through, time will tell.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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