Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2012 Issue

Here's What to Expect at Larry McMurtry's 300,000-Volume “Last Book Sale.”

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The huge auction at Larry McMurtry's Booked Up bookshop is set to go next month, and we are starting to get a look at the material that will be available. This is no small matter. In fact, it is a very large one, there being something in the area of 300,000 books to be auctioned over two days. Naturally, most will be sold in shelf lots, typically around 200 books per lot. There will also be 100 books sold individually, ones that are favorites of Mr. McMurtry, the bookseller and author whose works have been favorites of readers for most of the last half century.

Welcome to The Last Book Sale, taking place in Archer City, Texas, on August 10 and 11, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. each day. Larry McMurtry, who has been selling books almost as long as he has been writing them, will be paring down inventory. The bookshop is not closing, but the owner feels it is time to let some of his 450,000 books go. The result is that the books filling three of his four buildings will be sold over the course of those two days in August.

There will be around 1,400 shelf lots, which means it would be quite an undertaking to understand what is available on the day of the auction. Fortunately, the auctioneers, Addison & Sarova, have set up an extended preview time. You will be able to examine the lots starting a week in advance, from Friday, August 3, through Thursday, August 9, except for Sunday the 5th (closed). The buildings are open from 10: a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

This auction promises to provide a memorable weekend for bibliophiles. Larry McMurtry and Booked Up are legends in the field, the shop already drawing regular visitors from all over the world. Add to that an auction of 300,000 books, and a barbecue and concert Friday night, and this figures to be the event of the year, or many years, for those who love books. So, just what is available in an auction of 300,000 books? The easy answer is “everything,” but we asked auctioneer Michael Addison to give us a run down of what to expect. Not surprisingly, he can't give us a listing of all 300,000, but here is the quick tour of the three buildings whose contents will soon be finding new homes.

The auction will begin in Building #4, the largest of the buildings, with almost half of the shelf lots to be sold. The typical lot here will contain 10 shelves, or around 200 books. Most are 20th century printings, including many first editions, some signed. There are a good number of large illustrated books on these shelves. Categories are wide-ranging, including American history, ancient history, anthropology, architecture, art catalogues, books about books, cookbooks, dance, drama, economics and finance, film, journalism, linguistics and reference, medicine, music, mythology, pre-Columbian studies, science, sports, television, travel and transportation. There is also much fiction, but the categories are sufficiently blended that you may find a copy of McMurtry's Cadillac Jack in the travel section. The preview will be great fun for treasure seekers.

Also scattered around Building #4 is general stock. Mr. Addison said his favorites include the modern firsts, the large illustrated books, the selections of books about books, and some dealing with horse racing and bloodlines. However, there will be books not in any of the described categories as well, the number of volumes being so large. As to their value, Mr. Addison said, “If I had to put a general estimate of the retail value contained in each lot, I would say anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 would be close.” That could come from 20 $100 books, or 100 $20 books. Very few, he estimated, are worth less than $10. Those are retail prices, and auction buyers don't expect to pay retail. “Retail values aside, this is an auction, and we know that bidders are looking for good deals, and they won't be disappointed. The books have to go!”

Next up will be the books in Building #3. This is the smallest of the three, about half the size of Building #4. It contains many 19th century and earlier printings. Literature, history, and fiction will be found here, along with some nice Victorian bindings, and works in translation. Lots here will generally be five or six shelves in total, with 100+ books each. Mr. Addison notes that despite the smaller lot sizes, the retail value is still good, and “the quality is great.” This building also houses an extensive collection of pamphlets, which will be of great interest to those looking for rare, short form, ephemeral material.

Finally comes Building #2. This is where, Mr. Addison says, “the quality of the stock is at its peak.” The size of the lots from this building may vary widely based on the value of the books. They could contain anything from one to eight shelves. Among the subjects found in Building #2 are fiction, poetry, history, auction catalogues, books about antiques, art books, and more. Among the most notable items are some large, illustrated art books and numerous first editions.

In selecting the lots, the auctioneer has attempted to keep values similar. The idea is to have solid value in each lot, while keeping individual lot prices from getting too high. That gives everyone a chance to bid for the books they want. Mr. Addison explains, “Knowing that many of the bidders will be dealers looking for value, our focus was on making each lot an attractive investment in terms of dollars.  I think this will be one of the best opportunities in quite some time for dealers to acquire new and quality stock.” That it certainly will be, as Mr. McMurtry focused on having good books in top condition, the type you would expect of a first rate shop.

While it seems likely that the greatest part of the shelf lots will go to fellow booksellers, 100 books will be offered as single item lots, and these will be ideal for collectors not looking to take home books in the hundreds. Mr. McMurtry selected these 100, not on the basis of being the most expensive or most valuable, but because they were 100 he particularly liked. It is an unexpected group. There are writers you know, such as Thomas Wolfe, Henry James, Winston Churchill, Thomas Carlyle, Leo Tolstoy, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Others may not jump out at you, but perhaps that will spur your interest. Those would include Brother Antoninus, Radhakamal Mukerjee, and Cherry Kearton. And, of course, who doesn't know Alfred Edward A’Courte Hudson's Selected Blood Studies on Swine?

Among the others, for those interested in America's natives, or “Indians,” there is Walter Dyk's important first-hand interview account, A Navajo Autobiography. Or, there is Constantine Rafinesque's Walom Olom, a later edition of the history of the Lenape or Delaware Indians, a document whose authenticity is subject to some dispute. A couple of items highlighted are Leonard Elmore's early western, The Bounty Hunters, the once banned The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy, and Alice B. Toklas' Autobiography, a signed copy.

Finally, there is one other group of books. There are many boxes Mr. McMurtry was sent by established and aspiring authors over the years for his review. They will be sold in just a couple of large lots. As Mr. Addison notes, “there is a little of everything here.”

For details about the auction, including how to get there, and where to stay, Addison & Sarova has provided what you need to know on their website. Here is the link: www.addisonsauction.com/thelastbooksale.html.

This link will take you to an earlier article about the sale, including an interview with Mr. McMurtry. Click here.

For the complete list of the “McMurtry 100,” and some introductory remarks from Larry McMurtry, click “next” below to go to the next page.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs<br>& Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Marcus A. Root, "<i>General Tom Thumb</i>" with parents, daguerreotype, circa 1846. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> William Saunders, <i>Sketches of Chinese Life and Character</i>, album with 50 hand-colored photographs, 1871-72. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Wilson A. Bentley, album of 25 microphotographs from glass<br>plate negatives, 1888-1927.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs<br>& Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Hilla & Bernhard Becher, <i>Anonyme Skulpturen, Eine Typologie technischer Bauten</i>, first edition inscribed, Düsseldorf, 1970. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Edward Ruscha, four seminal artist's books in original dust jackets.<br>$1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Typological set of more than 100 photographs of WWII fighter planes, 1942-45. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b><br>Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes, <i>The Sweet Flypaper of Life</i>, first edition signed by authors, New York, 1955. $500 to $750.
  • <b>Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts, February 14th, 2016.</b>
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 9. HIERONYMUS. C.340-420. <i>Epistolae. WITH: Lupus de Oliveto. Regula Monachorum ...</i> US$ 20,000-30,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 47. FROST, A.B. 1858-1921. Shooting Pictures. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.<br>US$ 10,000-15,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 53. PICASSO, PABLO, RAOUL HAUSMANN, et al. ILIAZD, ed. Poesie de mots inconnus. 1949. US$ 8,000-12,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 64. BRIGGS, HENRY. 1561-1630. <i>The North Part of America</i>. [London: 1625]. Engraved by R. Elstracke. US$ 8,000-12,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 79. COPERNICUS, NICOLAUS. De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. 1566. US$ 80,000-120,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 80. DARWIN, CHARLES. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of ... US$ 70,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 87. NEWTON, ISAAC, SIR. Autograph Manuscript in Latin and English [n.p., early 1670s}. US$ 100,000-150,000
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 93. Dr. Kary Mullis' 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, awarded to him for the invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction. US$ 450,000-550,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 96.<br>CLEMENS, SAMUEL. Autograph Manuscript, nearly complete chapter 30 of <i>A Tramp Abroad</i>, c.1879.<br>US$ 20,000-30,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 105. GOLF. [MATHISON, THOMAS. d.1754.]<br><i>The Goff</i>. An Heroi-Comical Poem.<br>US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 113. JOYCE, JAMES. 1882-1941. <i>Ulysses</i>. First Edition, Presentation Copy, Signed and Inscribed by Joyce on the half-title. US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 120. LONDON, JACK. Autograph Manuscript of the short story "Flush of Gold". US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 135. STEINBECK, JOHN. Autograph Manuscript of an unpublished short story. US$ 35,000-45,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 149. GERONIMO. BARRETT, S.M., ed. Geronimo's Story of His Life. 1906. US$ 12,000-18,000.
    <b>Bonhams Feb 14th:</b> Lot 165.<br>ENOLA GAY. LEWIS, ROBERT A. An official pilot's log, 1942 to 1946.<br>US$ 50,000-80,000.
  • <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b><br>Lot 14. Blaeu,<i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula</i>, 1635. Est. $14000-$16000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b><br>Lot 305. Arrowsmith, <i>Texas: The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas</i>, 1841. Est. $18000-$20000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b><br>Lot 256. Thackara, <i>Plan of the City<br>of Washington in the Territory of Columbia</i>, 1792. Est. $13000-$16000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 188. Browne/Senex, A New<br>Map of Virginia Mary-land, 1719. <br>Est. $5500-$6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 47. Cellarius, <i>Scenographia Systematis Copernicani</i>, 1708.<br>Est. $2400-$3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 6. Ortelius, <i>Typus Orbis Terrarum</i>, 1571. Est. $7000-$8500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 413. De Medina, <i>Mundo Novo,</i> 1554. Est. $7000-$9000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 37. Jansson, <i>Histoire des Grands Chemins de l'Empire Romain</i>, 1736. Est. $3000-$3750
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 798. Le Rouge, <i>Atlas Nouveau Portatif a l'Usage des Militaires</i>, 1748. Est. $2400-$3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 60. Munster, <i>Tabula Novarum Insularum</i>, 1559. Est. $5500-$7000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 122. Morden, <i>A New Map of the English Empire in America</i>, 1695. <br>Est. $14000-$16000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 291. J.J. Stoner, Niagara-Falls, <br>N.Y., 1882. Est. $1600-$1900
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 797. Sanson, <i>Die Gantze Erd-Kugel</i> ... Europa, Asia, Africa und America, 1679. Est. $8000-$10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 799. Lotter/Lobeck, Atlas Geographicus Portatilis, 1760.<br>Est. $1600-$1900
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 808. Railroad Companies, [<i>Manuscript Railroad Atlas</i>], 1890.<br>Est. $1000-$1500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Feb 3-17):</b> <br>Lot 800. Pinkerton, <i>A Modern Atlas</i>, 1815. Est. $8000-$10000
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. <i>A superb collection of manuscripts signed by Lincoln and relics related to Lincoln’s death</i>. Washington, 1864-1865
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Rare Relic of the Underground Railroad (1857). <i>$500 Reward Ran away ...</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> CARTER, SUSANNAH. <i>The Frugal Housewife,</i> (1772) the second American cookbook, plates by Paul Revere.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> SCHIRRA, WALTER M.. Icon of the American Space Program. <i>A Complete Set of Schirra’s Flight Log Books (1947-69).</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> A fine pair of daguerreotypes, one a black nurse holding a white baby, the other the white parents. Maryland, c. 1853.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Internet. (COMPUTERS.) CERF, VINTON & KAHN, ROBERT. <i>"A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication" in IEEE Transactions on Communications.</i>

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