Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2013 Issue

Somewhere over the rainbow . . .

Brooklyncdv

Bought for $100, sold for $92,000

Some people buy lottery tickets.  Others make discoveries at yard sales.  One of the latter recently scored a big win with the purchase of an 1865 carte-de-visite [CDV] of the Brooklyn Athletics, a founding member of the National Association of Base Ball, forerunner of today’s National League.

The lucky weekend warrior was more than lucky.  He had to recognize the card was potentially valuable, agree to pay a price, $100 for it and other sundries, and then figure out how to sell it.  He sent it to a firm in New York with a price of $5,000.  They sent it back, “no thanks.”  He then heard that Saco River Auction this past August sold an 1888 Michael “King” Kelly card for $72,000 and received wide publicity for it.  The owner of the Brooklyn Athletics example, learning of Saco’s success, submitted his card and the auction house is now back in the news.

Floyd Hartford, on being contacted, with 40 years in the trade and the last five as Saco River, knew what to do.  “We carried it down to Boston to a specialist for authentication.  It’s real and it’s very early.”  Then armed with this information he advertised the sale.

Come auction night the house was jammed.  Floyd describes it as standing room only, “three hundred people anyway.”

The winning bidder opened the bidding on the floor at $25,000.  Three other bidders in the room, 9 on the phones and another 9 bidding via the internet pushed back but the opening bidder flinched not at all.  By increments of a $1,000 the price ascended.  He came prepared to spend $100,000.  He took it home for $92,000.

For the consignor from Baileyville, Maine who had bought the card and other debris for $100, it must have been a satisfying moment.  A few months earlier what he would have sold for $5,000 would earn him close to 20 times that.

So how did the willing bidders find this out-of–the way auction?  New York and New England newspapers covered it.  Local and regional television stations gave it airtime.  At some point the news went viral and in Cuba it got into print.

So it’s a refreshing story.  Luck and determination met head-on in Maine and the winner was every weekend warrior, who their spirits restored and their pickups tanked up, are out on the hustings, as we speak, in search of the next great discovery.

Floyd, reflecting on the sale, said “It’s the biggest item I ever handled and I’m glad for both buyer and seller it worked out well.”

If you have something unusual to consign you might contact Mr. Hartford by email at info@sacoriverauction.com.  

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.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions