Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2011 Issue

Using Reference Works Can Help Enhance Value

Zoschak1

Instructor Vic Zoschack, Tavistock Books, selects his references for bibliography class.

Vic Zoschak of Tavistock Books (ABAA) in Alameda, CA is well known in the book world as a dealer in Dickens and a specialist in other rare and collectible authors writing in English. He also has a growing reputation as the go-to guy for bookish reference works.

 

His own collection of bibliographies and related works exceeds 2,000 volumes. He’s one of the few you’ll encounter to wax lyrical on the National Union Catalog (NUC) which even in microfiche takes up a vast amount of space and requires its own semi- antique reader. In keeping with his enthusiasm and hoping to pass it on to the less meticulously inclined, Zoschak hosts a once a year free informative all day workshop on using and citing bibliographic references for, as the saying goes, “fun and profit.”

 

This year AE was fortunate enough to be on the guest list for the event held at his East Bay shop along with eight others including dealers, would-be dealers, catalogers, Vic’s own assistant-in-training and the young son of one of the participants taking videos for the benefit of those who might find the information potentially useful in future youtube snippets.

 

“Time is money,” says Zochak with conviction, and indeed this premise, which might seem obvious, is not a common sentiment in the world of books. His attitude is it’s better to use your time researching and writing up descriptions of your inventory in the most attractive, convincing and authoritative manner than to hope that fortune and destiny will deliver that signed first of the Wasteland hidden beneath the stack of old AARP magazines at the neighborhood yard sale.  That’s a round about way of saying you’ll make more money if you throw your lot in with the bibliographers, and if you can’t be one yourself, acquiring at least a basic familiarity with some of the terminology and techniques can add multiple 000s to the value of your offerings.

 

His presentation is constructed around familiarizing the participants with the elements that contribute to “value,” i.e. edition, condition, availability and desirability and urging them to avoid customers bearing the old family bibles, text books and religious tracts in favor of putting the time and energy into research and becoming knowledgeable (or preferably expert) in writing clear descriptions that inspire confidence.

Zoschak says he never cites a reference unless he has personally checked it himself and told several amusing incidents where less ethical dealers had swiped citations off the internet only to be asked to provide a Xerox of the reference that they clearly did not know, possess or consult. Conspiratorially he told us that one of the good parts about doing a thorough reference check was the possibility your title would not appear in any of the standard works. In which case, you could confer the coveted “not in” and cite all the places it wasn’t, thus adding by implication to rarity and desirability of your book.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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 Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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