Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2012 Issue

Don Heald: A Perspective

Allthingsbooks

Books and rare things about books

So where to begin?

For starters, there are subjects that will better endure and a few that will prosper, and within these subjects, copies that will increase in value, while others decline.  Donald has a strong feeling about these things.  But his taste is such that when collecting subjects veer beyond what he owns, he still applies the same standards.  The copies he recommends will be the important ones, and he’ll inevitably suggest waiting rather than settling, though it adds years to the wait and sometimes zeros to the price.  Significance, he believes, should always matter because it multiplies options at dispersal.  It’s important advice, although difficult to accept, because collecting has deep emotional underpinnings that express themselves as urgency to buy.  To this Donald rejoins, settling is costly.

This said, collecting printed material does not begin with a Gutenberg; it would more likely complete an exceptional effort pursued over decades.  And of course, few collections, although they become great examples, will ever need or contemplate such valuable material.  Important collections sent to auction as single owner sales may bring $400,000 to $10,000,000, with a median value (at today’s realizations) of about $1.3 million.   Greatness, it turns out, is relative, quality comparative, and this why the greatest collections are often collector-dealer collaborations.  The dealer’s years of experience shape and sharpen such collections in ways a collector will appreciate only years later.
  

Within collecting disciplines, there are all kinds of exceptional efforts.  My collection of more than 3,000 printed items relating to the history of the Hudson Valley may be worth a million, a collection of early Shakespeare, perhaps 20 prized items altogether $20 million.  With so many books and printed examples to consider, there will always be possibilities.

In my view, then when starting a collection, selecting a dealer as advisor and architect will prove more important than buying any initial books.  Setting the keel is that important. When the day eventually comes to disperse, if the collection is coherent, the material appealing, and the examples exceptional, the welcome will be warm.  In the process, a few of the determined will build not only a collection; they will build a reputation, or as is said in the trade, a name.

This, then, is something to think about when reaching for an interesting book, and if your desire exceeds your knowledge, think to ask who can explain how this single volume will fit into a pattern of purchases that in time becomes a collection.

From Mr. Heald, here are ten examples of books he believes will look as desirable in future as they are today.  They connect to many potential collections.  If one of these items intersects with your interests, I recommend speaking to your dealer about it for their perspective.  And of course, it goes without saying you can contact Mr. Heald’s office yourself.  But be forewarned! The man can charm monkeys down from trees.
  

Link to 10 items.

So, on a beautiful New York day in August 2012 on the Upper East Side it's apparent Donald Heald is one of the few that in an hour or two can bring a potential collection to life.  He is that skilled.  For a collector these few hours can define an entire collecting career.

Link to the Donald A. Heald website

Donald A. Heald contact information

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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