• <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1863. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Laurie & Whittle, <i>The Complete East-India Pilot</i>, with 113 maps, London, 1797. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> George W. Browning, 134 sketches of natural history & landscape subjects, American West, 1880s-90s.<br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Catesby & Ehret, <i>Magnolia Grandiflora</i>, from first edition <i>Natural History of Carolina</i>, London, 1731-43. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Petrus Plancius, <i>The Spice Map</i>, hand-colored, London, 1598.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b><br>John Miller, <i>Illustratio Systematis Sexualis Linnaei</i>, London, 1770-77. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Thomas Shotter Boys, <i>Original Views of London As It Is</i>, de luxe issue, 26 hand-colored lithographs, London, 1842. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Frederick de Wit, <i>Belgi XVII Provinciarum Tabula</i>, true first state wall map, Amsterdam, ca 1670. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b><br>John James Audubon, <i>Passenger Pigeon, Plate LXII</i>, aquatint & engraving before color, London, 1829. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Joannes Clericus, <i>Atlas Atiquus, Sacer, Ecclesiasticus et Profanus</i>, Amsterdam, 1705. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Matthaus Seutter, <i>Atlas Novus sive Tabulae Geographicae totius Orbis</i>, Augsburg, ca 1735.<br>$10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> William Roscoe, <i>Monandrian Plants of the Order Scitamineae</i>, Liverpool, 1824-28. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b><br>John James Audubon, <i>The Mocking Bird</i>, hand-colored aquatint & engraving, London, 1827.<br>$7,000 to $10,000.
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> CURTIS, EDWARD. <i>Original glass plate photograph, Honovi – Walpi Snake Priest, prepared by Curtis for the printing of The North American Indian</i>, c.1910
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (AMERICAN WEST.), Watkins, Taber, Savage, and others. <i>Magnificent Album of Mammoth Photographs of the American West, with other subjects various</i>, ca. 1865-1880s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>Darwin Family Photograph Album</i>. Down, Kent, 1871-1879
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (SECRET SERVICE). <i>The photographic archive, papers, and relics of William Kennoch, Secret Service Agent</i>. Various places, 1870s and 1880s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (AMERICAN REVOLUTION). <i>Daguerreotype Portrait of Baltus Stone, the earliest photo of a Revolution veteran,</i> 1846

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2012 Issue

Seller Beware: Who really owns it?

1885maui

A rare 1885 map of Maui had a gift letter, but it wasn't hers to sell. Photo Fitzpatrick & Moffat.

As a dealer and sometime collector of vintage and antiquarian Hawaiiana since 1979, I’ve run into many interesting collections of books, maps, prints and photos and related antique paper. I’ve bought and sold many of these things and been asked for a professional opinion on many other occasions.

But within the last year two events have made me acutely aware that not everything offered for sale, no matter how authentic, rare or intellectually exciting it may be, is actually the seller’s property to sell.

Beautiful Map Brings a Hefty Price

Incident #1 happened in the fall of 2011. A colleague and I hosted an exhibit tracing the history of Hawaii with a display of maps from Capt. Cook through statehood at a small local museum.

The publicity for the event caught the eye of a local history teacher who had a friend who had an antique map of Maui. The friend asked the teacher if she knew what it was and what it might be worth? The teacher, who had heard about the map show, contacted me. She produced the map and a gift letter.

In brief the letter said that the owner, back on the Mainland, had this map. It had been in his possession a long time, it wasn’t doing him much good and really belonged back in Hawaii. He wanted the teacher’s friend (who was also a friend of his) to have it.

The map was the best copy I had ever seen of the 1885 survey of Maui by WD Alexander. It was in flawless condition. I got chicken skin when I saw it. The hair on my arms literally stood up with excitement.

Though beat up and raggedy copies sometimes came to market in the $200-$500 range, a copy in this shape I said could go for $2,000 to $5,000.

I told the teacher if her friend wanted to sell it I’d be happy to look for a buyer. To my surprise the friend did want to sell it.

I priced it at $5,000, and we agreed on a commission. I took one photo of the map, made a copy of the gift letter and sold it on the first call for the full amount.

A few days later I picked up the check, gave the seller her share. It was smiles all around. That is until a few days later, when early on a Sunday morning my phone rang. Who should be on the other end but the donor and writer of the gift letter, who was nearly hysterical with rage.

Did I not know that he was the archivist at an important American map repository? Was it not crystal clear from his letter that it was his intent to have the map donated to a local school? I’d better get the map back to him and double-quick or he’d call the state attorney general and have me thrown in the calaboose. Did he make himself perfectly clear?

As it turned out, I did get the map back. I reversed the transaction, returned both the map and the letter to the teacher’s friend, who returned them post haste to the irate archivist.

It Was A Wake Up Call

But the experience was a wake up call for me. It made it really clear that the world of libraries and archives and their staffs and the world of dealers and collectors don’t really play by the same rules.

It was clear by the text of the letter that he had gifted the map to his friend, and probably had the authority to do so because as an executive level staffer he had the authority to dispose of or de-accession things that were duplicates or thought to be of minor value.

The map may have been a duplicate, but he was wrong about the value. He found that out when the friend wrote him joyfully about this stroke of good luck and offered him half of the proceeds.

That’s when he panicked big time. He knew that if his employer ever got word of this transaction his career would be toast.

So he changed his story: he didn’t mean to give it to his friend, his letter had been totally misunderstood: he had meant to donate to a school in Hawaii with the friend as an intermediary. Despite the fact that his letter didn’t say anything of the sort, that was his version.

I got him back the map. That left all of us -- seller, buyer and dealer, out the time and the money, but the halls of academe remained serene and nobody was any wiser. It was apparent that Mr. High Mucka-Mucka had a very thin grasp on antique map values in the open market. As for how many other little presents like this he had made over the years from things in his care, who knew?

But now I found out the hard way I had to be more careful, much more careful. I had to really truly thoroughly check on anything I had even the remotest suspicion might come from a library, archive or any kind of public institution. No matter what the letter said, I realized I should have checked with the donor first.


Posted On: 2012-07-01 00:00
User Name: arader

Hi Susan

We have a vast stock of great material relating to Hawaii. Hope you will give Alexander Johnson a call in our SF gallery at 415 788 5115 an


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Excessively Rare Benjamin Franklin Imprint. Estaugh (John). <i>A Call to the Unfaithful Professors of Truth</i>, Philadelphia: Printed by B. Franklin, 1744. €7,000 – 10,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Original Signed Volume from the Dean Swift's Library. [Swift (Dr. Jonathan)] Grotius (Hugo). <i>De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres</i>, Amsterdam: (J. Blaeu) 1670. €10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Cresswell (Samuel Gurney). <i>A Series of Eight Sketches in Colour; together with a Coloured Map of the Route</i>, London: (Day & Son) July 25, 1854.<br>€15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Of Legendary Rarity - First Printing of Shakespeare Outside England. Shakespeare (Wm.). <i>The Works of Shakespeare</i> In Eight Volumes. Dublin: 1726.<br>€7,000 – 10,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Lewin (W.). <i>The Birds of Great Britain</i>, 8 vols in 4, with 335 hand-coloured plates, 1795 – 1801. €1,500 – 2,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> 18th Century Manuscript Relating to Massachusetts Bay, c. 1750.<br>€350 – 500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Alexander (Wm.). <i>Picturesque Representations of The Dress and Manners of the Chinese</i>, with 50 hand-coloured plates, 1814. €600 – 800
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Manuscript Estate Atlas - Neville (Arthur Richard). <i>The Estate of Sir John Coghill Bart</i>, 1791. €10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Unique Collection of Ballads by Brendan Behan Behan. €3,000 – 4,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Original Manuscript of Edith Somerville's Unpublished Children's Book. Somerville (Edith). <i>GROWLY-WOWLY. Or, The Story of the Three Little Pigs</i>. €3,500 – 5,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Full Set of Cuala Press Broadsides with fine hand-coloured illustrations by Jack B. Yeats, 1908 – 1915. €4,000 – 6,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Eyzinger (Michael). <i>Ad Leonis Belgici Topographicam atque Historicam Descriptionem</i>, [Cologne:] 1586. €3,000 – 4,000
  • <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 202. Geronimo - Apache. £600-800
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 225.<br>A Chief of the Desert - Navaho. £1000-1500
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 267.<br>An Oasis in the Bad Lands. £600-800
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 303.<br>The Scout in Winter - Apsaroke. £800-1200
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 320.<br>Sitting Bear - Arikara. £500-700
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 475. <br>A Nakoaktok Chief's Daughter. <br>£600-800
  • <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie.</i> Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1916.<br>$80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in English, Signed Integrally ("Isaac Newton"). $50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life</i>. London: John Murray, 1859. $25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. <i>The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.</i> London: Benjamin Motte, 1729.<br>$20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEISENBERG, WERNER. Autograph Manuscript entitled "<i>Entwicklung der Theorie der Elementarteilche,</i>” [1964].<br>$15,000 – 25,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> BERNOULLI, DANIEL. <i>Hydrodynamica, sive De viribus et motibus fluidorum commentarii.</i> Strasbourg: Johann Heinrich Decker for Johann Reinhold Dulsecker, 1738. $5,000 – 7,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> [TARKOVSKY, ANDREI ARSENIEVICH.] STRUGATSKY, BORIS AND ARKADY. Typed Manuscript for <i>Stalker</i>, being the director's working script, 1977. $150,000 – 200,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. Typed Manuscript of "Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Letter," n.p., [1933]. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> SALINGER, JEROME DAVID. 4 Autograph Letters, 2 of which Signed ("Jerry") and 6 Typed Letters, 2 of which Initialed ("J"). $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> PASTERNAK, BORIS LEONIDOVICH. Typed Manuscript Carbon, "Doktor Zhivago," with some typed corrections, Moscow, 1948. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> MILNE, ALAN ALEXANDER. Autograph Manuscript Signed 3 times ("A.A. Milne"), entitled "Peace with Honour: An Enquiry into the War Convention," 1934.<br>$30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Robert Frost"), titled "Gold for Christmas," 1952. $15,000 – 20,000
  • <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [ARTILLERY]. KITCHEN, D.C. <i>Record of the Wyoming Artillerists.</I> Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania: Alvin Day Printer, 1874. $2,000-4,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> UNITED STATES AND MEXICAN BOUNDARY COMMISSION. EMORY, William Hemsley. <i>Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, Made under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior…</i><br>$3,000-6,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> RICHARDSON, William H. <i>Journal of William H. Richardson, a Private Soldier in the Campaign of New and Old Mexico…</i>. Baltimore: John H. Woods, 1848. $3,000-6,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> GARCÍA CONDE, Pedro. <i>Carta geografica general de la Republica Mexicana…</i> $30,000-60,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> EMORY, William Hemsley. <i>Map of Texas and the Countries Adjacent: Compiled in the Bureau of the Corps of Topographical Engineers; From the Best Authorities…</i> [Washington, 1844]. $7,500-15,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> THORPE, Thomas Bangs. <i>Our Army at Monterey. Being a Correct Account of the Proceedings and Events which Occurred to the “Army of Occupation”…</i> Philadelphia, 1847. $400-800
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> <i>The Rough and Ready Songster: Embellished with Twenty-Five Splendid Engravings, Illustrative of the American Victories in Mexico…</i> New York; St. Louis, Mo [ca. 1848].<br>$500-1,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> CURRIER, Nathaniel (publisher). <i>The Brilliant Charge of Capt. May At the Battle of Resaca de la Palma (Palm Ravine) 9th of May…</i> $150-300 
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [RINGGOLD, SAMUEL]. WYNNE, James. <i>Memoir of Major Samuel Ringgold, United States Army: Read Before the Maryland Historical Society, April 1st, 1847.</i> Baltimore, 1847. $500-1,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [TAYLOR, ZACHARY]. <i>Life of General Taylor from the Best Authorities.</i> New York: Nafis and Cornish; St. Louis, Mo.: Nafis, Cornish & Co., 1847.<br>$500-1,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> TILDEN, Bryant Parrott, Jr. <i>Notes on the Upper Rio Grande, Explored in the Months of October and November, 1846, on Board the U.S. Steamer Major Brown…</i> Philadelphia, 1847.<br>$5,000-10,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [WORTH, WILLIAM J.]. <i>Life of General Worth; To Which is Added a Sketch of the Life of Brigadier-General Wool.</i> New York: Nafis & Cornish; St. Louis, Mo.: Nafis, Cornish & Co., 1847.<br>$200-400

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