Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Selling History - Moving on Down the Highway

Hyco

History You Can Buy - fresh thinking on the challenge of building an audience

Jim Croce said or perhaps I should say sang “Movin’ me down the highway” in 1973 and we have been hearing it ever since on radios and in elevators.  Seth Kaller and John Reznikoff got the message and heard something in the song most other booksellers have not.   Many, and its probably a safe assumption most, booksellers have been closing shops.  Seth of Seth Kaller, Inc. Historical Autographs and John Reznikoff of University Archives have partnered with Stephen Rockwell [he’s a distant relative of Norman] Desloge, owner of six Rockwell Galleries in Fairfield County, Connecticut. They are converting one of the galleries into a mixed media shop in Westport to sell collectible history, much of it on paper.  It’s an experiment with a good chance of success.  The shop will feature a combination of objects, documents, ephemera and books, in other words the new quartet of mixed media collecting.  Bookshops may be closing but shops that mimic the combination of materials that next generation collectors are acquiring stand a good chance of success.

The facility is 1,250 square feet.  Rockwell’s framing operation uses 20%, and the balance- gallery space formerly showing contemporary art- has been given over for the display of appealing historic offerings.  Rockwell staff will explain the objects as well as assist with framing decisions.  When questions exceed the staff’s knowledge, they will link the prospective client by phone or email with Kaller’s or Reznikoff’s offices, depending on ownership of the particular item.

Mr. Rockwell-Desloge, interviewed for this article, suggested he views the symbiotic relationship of collectible objects and art and framing as important to both sides.  He believes both will benefit from the collaboration.
   

Bookstores, for many years, have been in decline, their single concept too often not strong enough to pay the rent and justify the time and money invested.  The notion of frame-able material on the other hand is positioned close to the bull’s eye of the new collecting paradigm that is subject-centric but scattered with respect to media.  Photography, original art, documents, baseball gloves and bats, a general’s baton, and his love letters are all aspects of the ‘complete’ approach that new style, deep and compelling collections increasingly encompass.

This venture is in some sense a marriage of convenience; framers looking for more work and sellers of history looking for a wider market.  It is a marriage that makes sense.  Whether, in the most logically constructed retail model, framing is equal to content will need to be confirmed.  It could be.


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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