• <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Zenobius. Epitome proverbiorum Tarrhaei et Didymi [graece], Florence, [possibly Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, [after 23 September] 1497. £15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Phalaris. [Phalaridis tyranni Apollonii Philosophi pythagoraei Epistolae [Graece], Venice, Bartholomaeus Pelusius, Gabriel Bracius de Brisighella, Johannes Bissolus and Benedictus Mangius, 18 June, 1498. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Orpheus. Argonautica. Hymni [graece], Florence, [Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, 19 September, 1500. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Primaleon.- Los tres libros del muy esforçado cavallero Primaleon et Polendos su hermano…, Venice, Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio for Giovanni Battista Pederzano, February, 1534. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bodoni (Giambattista). Manuale Tipografico, 2 vol., Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1818. £8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Music. Gafurius (Franchinus). Practica musicae, Brescia, Angelus Britannicus, 23 September, 1497. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bonaventura (Saint). A group of three Franciscan mystical texts, [14th century]. £15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). Trattatello in laude di Dante, decorated manuscript on paper, Florence, first half of 15th century. £30,000 – 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Greek medical manuscript. Iatrosophion, decorated manuscript on paper, Greece (probably Crete), [first half of 16th century]. £8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Heraldry. Nayler (George). Album of coats of arms compiled from the papers of Sir George Nayler, 114 coats of arms, most with manuscript captions. [17th, 18th & early 19th centuries]. £1,500 – 2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Zoffany (Johan). Autograph Letter signed to Messrs. Raikes & Co., merchants, 1p. with conjugate blank and address panel, 17th July 1801, "In consequence of an order I received from General Claud Martin…”<br>£500 - 700
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bury (Richard de, Bishop of Durham). Philobiblon...sive de amore librorum, Oxford, Joseph Barnes, 1599.<br>£4,000 – 6,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Princezna Hyacinta</i>, 1911. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b><br><i>Les Maîtres de l'Affiche</i>, 5 volumes, Paris, 1896-1900.<br>$35,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job</i>, 1896.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Bleuze - Hadancourt Parfumeur</i>, circa 1899.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Lygie</i>, 1901. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894.<br>$30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Zodiac / La Plume</i>, 1896. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>The Seasons</i>, 4 panels on silk, 1900.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Aristide Bruant dans son Cabaret</i>, 1893. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Monaco / Monte-Carlo</i>, 1897. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Medee / Sarah Bernhardt</i>, 1898. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Confetti</i>, 1894. $40,000 to $60,000.
  • <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> <i>The First American Magna Carta. English Liberties.</i> Boston, 1721.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Babbage presentation to Peel, the man who killed the Difference Engine 1832
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Stamp Act. 1765
    <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Central Park Photographs by Prevost 1862
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Salem Witch Trials. Wonders of the Invisible World 1693
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Mammoth print of Millie-Christine, "The Carolina Twins" c. 1868

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2012 Issue

Free or Nearly Free: Great Finds that Cost $0 or Next to $0 & Sell for a Great Deal More

Zero $$

My dad, the great book seller Morton “Jock” Netzorg, a dealer for well over 50 years, had all kinds of rules about how to make money selling books. But Netzorg’s #1 rule was: “What you pay for it has nothing to do with what it’s worth.”

Looking over my list of sales so far this year I was surprised to notice how many of the things that were profitable came in the door for free – found sitting on the curb waiting for the garbage man or were, if not free, nearly free – cost to me $1 or even less.

I sent a query to an on-line list where dealers chat among themselves and asked did this happen to other sellers, and if so how often? My in-box rapidly filled with many examples from those with similar experiences.

Buy low, Sell high

There were too many stories to share them all, but here are just a few examples:

* The Florida dealer who got a first edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous Blue Book for $1 and sold it the next day for $150.

* The North Carolina dealer who paid $2 for a ratty looking antique astronomy book with a big black ink spot on the cover who resold it within 24 hours for over $200.

* The Alabama used book seller who bought a box of vintage golf course score cards for $10. So far he estimated he’s made over $2,000 on what’s been sold and he still has a third of them left.

* The Iowa dealer who got a first edition, second state of the Hobbit for a quarter and resold it for $1200.

* The seller in Europe who picked up a batch of older books in English for a few pounds. In the lot he found some early mystery and detective stories. Just two of the best ones brought over £900.

*The retired dealer from the East Coast who often helped haul away freebies. In the pile he found Portrait of an Artist by James Joyce. It was a ratty copy and a later printing. He estimated its value at about $2. But when he discovered it was signed by Joyce the price went up steeply. He sold it for $4,000.

*A California seller told about a signed biography of a billiard player, “I paid about 35 cents for a paperback. There were none listed for sale online and I had no idea how much the book was worth, so I listed it on eBay with a starting bid of $50.00. I ended up selling it for $1750.”

It happens all the time

Almost everybody who wrote said this has happened to them not just once, but with reassuring regularity. Some added the proviso, “These kinds of finds do not come along often enough to make a living from them,” but the consensus was great deals do happen and often enough to make things interesting.

Even in the days of on-line information galore, you’d think people would look it up before they throw it out. But they either don’t know how or could care less, as a result good stuff can come your way and sometimes it’s free, gratis and for nothing.

But as the seller your part of the deal is to be looking for it.

What you bring to the equation is curiosity, knowledge and an intuitive sense of who else might not only want what you have, but might actually be willing to pay for it.

The things I find that seem to have the best margins are usually non-fiction pre-ISBN books and vintage or antique ephemera. I find them because I’m looking.

Looking means really looking

Looking is not just a glance. Looking means not just the outside but the inside, not just the front but the back. Not just the book itself but what’s laid inside the book, not just the subject but why someone would be interested in the subject. Not just the condition but the content. Not just the text but the pictures, the dust jacket, the credits, the inscription. Not just books but magazines, photos, and every other kind of paper. Just because somebody else has tossed it doesn’t mean it is without value.

Here’s the way one Massachusetts seller put it: “Right now I am going through a few mixed boxes of ephemera from an ABAA member who does primarily books
and all this paper would have slowed him down. So I am going through the paper one piece at a time and I am making a pretty penny. He already got what he needed from these lots.


She went on to say, “I pulled out a few items and sent a box to still ANOTHER dealer who does even more specialized material. It's sort of a trickle down bookselling.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Cassilly Adams, Civil War era watercolor on paper painting of the navy vessel upon which he was stationed: the U.S.S. Osage. $3,000 – 5,000
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Audubon, John James and John Bachman, <i>The Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: V.G. Audubon, 1854. 3 volumes. $2,400 – 3,400
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Roulstone, George. <i>LAWS OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE.</i> Printed and published by George Roulstone, Knoxville, (Tennessee), 1803. $2,000 – 3,000
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Heap, Gwin Harris. <i>CENTRAL ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC, FROM THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI TO CALIFORNIA…</i> Philadelphia/London, 1854.<br>$1,800 – 2,200
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> FDR’s personal copy of <i>The Great Smoky Mountains"</i> by Laura Thornborough. Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1937.<br>$1,500 – 1,800
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Latour, Arsene Lacarriere. <i>HISTORICAL MEMOIR OF THE WAR IN WEST FLORIDA AND LOUISIANA IN 1814 – 1815. WITH AN ATLAS.</i> Philadelphia, 1816.<br>$1,200 – 1,500
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> [Kennedy Autograph Signature] Kennedy, John F. <i>Profiles in Courage.</i> New York Harper & Brothers, (1956).<br>$1,200 – 1,500
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Sam Houston signed land document, granting Elias Riddle 100 acres in Bledsoe County, Tennessee "in the grassy cove…" dated February 22, 1828.<br>$1,000 – 1,200
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> "The State of Kentucky with Adjoining Territories" Map, by John Payne, engraved by John Scoles, published by John Low, New York, 1800. $500 – 700
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Civil War era letter and 4 carte de visites, including Confederate Generals. $300 – 500
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> 12 Bank of East Tennessee Pre Civil War Bills. $350 – 450
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> 2 Early Homeopathy books by Alva Curtis. $300 – 400
  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton's Appointment as Aide-De-Camp to General George Washington. $150,000 – 250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Correspondence about his reputation as a soldier and a gentleman nearly provoking a duel, 1779. $100,000 -150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. The earliest surviving love letter from Hamilton to his future wife Elizabeth Schuyler. $40,000 – 60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter signed to Elizabeth Schuyler; a love letter that also announces the arrival of French General Rochambeau. $15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter to Elizabeth Schuyler, announcing the treason of Benedict Arnold. $35,000 – 50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter signed to Elizabeth Hamilton, announcing that the army is preparing to engage Cornwallis in Virginia. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter draft to John Jay, concerning his lawsuit against Lewis Littlepage and Henry Brockholst Livingston. $10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph notes prepared for President Washington's third annual message to congress. $15,000 – 25,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. A prevously unrecorded autograph draft of Pacificus essay no. VI.<br>$300,000 – 500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter draft to an unnamed recipient (but possibly Jeremiah Wadsworth), regarding the presidential election of 1796. $25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b><br>Philip Hamilton. Autograph letter signed to his father, Alexander Hamilton, ("Dear Papa"), discussing his schooling and his desire to be "a good man." $8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Two autograph memoranda, one with a diagram, planning the gardens at the grange. $15,000 – 25,000
  • <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>SAXTON, Christopher. <i>The Travellers Guide being the best Mapp of the Kingdom of England and Principality of Wales</i>. London, [1583, but c.1716].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>VISSCHER, Claes Jansz. <i>Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici</i>. Amsterdam, Claes Jansz Visscher, [1611-1621 or later].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Decima Asie Tabula</i>. Ulm, Lienhart Holle, 16 July 1482.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>WIT, Frederick de, and Gerard VALK. <i>Orbis Terrarum Nova et Accurata Tabula</i>. Amsterdam, Gerard Valk, [c.1690-1700].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Astronomicum Caesareum</i>. Ingolstadt, Peter Apian, 1540.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>CASSINI, Jean-Dominique. <i>Carte de la Lune</i>. Paris, Jean-Dominique Cassini, 1787.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Geographicae enarrationis libri octo</i>. Argentoragi, 1525.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>[SAXTON, Christopher]. <i> [An Atlas of England and Wales]</i>. [London, Christopher Saxton, 1579].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> Commission des sciences et arts d'Egypte. <i>Description de l’Égypte</i>… Paris, Imprimerie impériale - Imprimerie royale, 1809-1828.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> CHURCHMAN, John. <i>To George Washington President of the United States of America this Magnetic Atlas or Variation Chart is humbly inscribed by John Churchman</i>. Philadelphia, 1790.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Tipus Orbis Universalis</i>. Vienna, Johannes Camertius, 1520.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LORIOT, A[uguste], [after] Nicolas LANE. <i>[Pocket globe]</i>. London, 65 New Bond Street, 1809.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>BLAEU, Johannes. <i>Grooten Atlas</i>. Amsterdam, Joan Blaeu, 1662-1665.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>INGEBORG BRUN, Emmy. <i>Mars efter Lowell’s Glober 1894-1914</i>. Denmark, [c1915].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LUTHER, Martin. <i>Der vierde Teil aller Bücher vnd Schrifften des thewren seligen Mans</i>. Gedruckt zu Jhena, Durch Christian Rödinger, 1556.
  • <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

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