Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2013 Issue

The AED at Four Million

Aed growth and cost per record

Charting the AED's growth, and cost per record

The AED, the Americana Exchange Database of books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera offered at auction, described by leading dealers, explained in important bibliographies or included in collector catalogues, in mid December last, passed by 4,000,000 full text records.   It seems a distant idea, something like a meteor passing by that we note but hardly notice because the progress seems so inevitable.  The AED, initially a satellite launched into low orbit with 151,000 records, over the past ten years has become a galactic exploration, the goal now clear – to record every appearance and every outcome at auction world-wide for the period 1875 to yesterday.  Its number, allowing for two million dealer and bibliographic records, is ten million and will provide a seamless history of descriptions, prices or outcomes from which to estimate value, rarity and probability of reappearance.  At four million the AED already provides 8 to 12 times as many results as any alternative database, not only because we have more records but also because our records include every scrap of data we can confirm – particularly seller and buyer names that often have to be separately determined.  Increasingly we are adding images if they are available.

The path ahead, from 4 to 10 million, is generally understood.  We have in hand the next 2 million records, they the outcome of aggressive purchasing over the past 20 years.   And we have also been lent some runs and they too are entering the AED.  Additional archives arrive periodically.

The cost of the AED has of course increased since its introduction in 2002 but the cost per record dropped by 87%.  Ten years ago it cost $74.50 for 151,000 records, today $265 for 4,000,000.  As our accountant points out we are providing almost 27 times as many records for 3.5 times the initial cost.  But while cost is important we believe that completeness is crucial.   Our goal is to provide a single lightning fast search of all identified and confirmed records.  For this we have a way to go but are already far deeper into the compilation of such a database than we or anyone else ever expected.
  

So over the next 2 years expect that the AED will approach 60% of all auction records for the period 1875 to yesterday and in the following 3 years 80%.  We will face challenges but they will be worth it.  The impossible is becoming the likely.

To those who are members we say thank you for your continuing support.  To those who are not yet on board we suggest the transparency is compelling.  It can be fun to muck around in the dark but for efficient buying and selling clarity always trumps guess work.
                                            

The attached graph shows how the AED, now in its 11th year, has evolved.  At its outset in the fall of 2002 we provided 151,000 records for $74.50.  We reached 500,000 in 2003, a million in 2004 [$141.60], 1,500,000 in 2006 and 2,000,000 in 2008.   In 2010 we passed 3,000,000 [$185.00], Jan AEM 2013 and this past December 4,000,000 [$265].  We are now focused on adding another million in 2013 and another in 2014.  As we do this we are also rebuilding the site and the databases to handle higher traffic and more complex searches.   We have learned that when you provide more possibilities an audience emerges to use them.

We believe that clarity defines the future of collecting.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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