• <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Announcing the Fall 2016 Auction Season
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 1:</b> Autographs
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b> Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 10:</b> 19th & 20th Century Literature
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 8:</b> Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Colored Plate Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 17:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 1:</b> Art, Press & Illustrated Books
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 29:</b> Illustration Art
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 3:</b> Old Master Through Modern Prints
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WARREN, JOSEPH. Letter Signed ("Jos Warren") as Chairman of the Committee of Safety. Cambridge, MA, June 4, 1775.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Leaves of Grass. Brooklyn, NY: [for the Author], 1855.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> JEFFERSON, THOMAS. Printed Broadside Signed ("Th: Jefferson") as Secretary of State. Philadelphia, February 12, 1793.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> CELLINI, BENVENUTO. 1500-1571. Autograph Letter Signed ("Beto. Cellini"). [Florence, c.1566].
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. Sept. 21, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. Autograph Manuscript. [c.1795].
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> DICKENS, CHARLES. Great Expectations. London: Chapman and Hall, 1861.
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> REED, JOHN. To the Honourable House of Representatives of the Freemen of Pennsylvania this Map of the City and Liberties of Phiadelphia With the Catalog of Purchasers is Humbly Dedicated.... [Philadelphia]: engraved by James Smit
    <b>Bonhams Sept. 21:</b> ELIOT, THOMAS STEARNS. The Waste Land. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2013 Issue

The Book War at the French Auction House Drouot

Hennepin fraysse 02

The Hennepin, estimated at €300, went for €2,500.

Travel books ain’t worth a dime

There was a travel books section to the sale. Though specialized in this particular field, Mr. Know-it bought almost none of them - at least officially. “Travel books don’t sell anymore”, he said to his friend sitting beside him (the one who looked at every single book during the sale). While Carpeau de Sussay’s Voyage de Madagascar (1722) went for 950 euros before the commission (of 22% for this sale), he shrugged: “A very nice copy has been on the shelf of my bookshop for more than a year. For 1,200 euros – nobody wants it. Travel books are all over the internet now, it was the worst kind of books to specialize in.” His friend nodded: “Who could have guessed?” Indeed, travel books stand among the most prestigious ones. Is Mr. Know-it a little bitter? Or is he just cunningly trying to discourage every one around him from venturing into his territory? As the classical Ravenau de Lussan’s Journal du Voyage fait à la Mer du Sud avec les Flibustiers (1689) reached a 500 euros bid, Mr. Know-it turned around, realized that the bidder was no one he knew, and overbid him - 510 euros. When he was eventually handed the book, he obviously looked at it for the first time, frowning at the torn top cap. He never intended to buy it, he just made sure this book would not go for too low a price… at least to someone else.

When one of the nicest books of the sale came up, Hennepin’s Nouvelle Découverte d’un Pays situé dans l’Amérique… (1698, including the first engraving of Niagara Falls), the expert read the ridiculous appraisal of 300 euros and said: “Let’s start at 150…” Mr. Know-it giggled : “Waste not our time, 1,000 euros!” Then he looked the other way as the sale went on – the book was sold for 2,500 euros. Mr. Know-it did exactly the same thing regarding the rare Pigafetta’s relation of Magellan’s travel (1801) that went for 1,350 euros (appraisal 300). As hours, and items, were passing by, Mr. Know-it’s friend marveled: “You don’t bid on this one?” The bookseller laughed: “Yes I do, I have someone over the phone, bidding for me. Look at this idiot over there, he spies at me. Every time I bid on a book, he overbids me without even knowing why.” Mr. Know-it knows how to cross his enemies – he even plays tricks on them. At one point, he said: “1,000 euros!” for a book. His “enemy” said at once: “1,100 euros!” and won the item while Mr. Know-it burst out laughing with his friend. No pity on this battlefield. And when the same “enemy ” won a copy of Zarate’s Histoire du Pérou at a good price, Mr. Know-it turned towards him: “I did not pressure you on this one, you noticed?” a way to tell him not to pressure him on a next one. That’s how things go, at Drouot. Nothing is for free. Is it about books? Sure, but always bear in mind that it is also about money.

Thibault Ehrengardt

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, Chicago, 1968). <i>Collection of papers of John M. Bailey, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, concerning the convention</i>. Various places, 1968.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (ARMSTRONG, NEIL.) VERNE, JULES. <i>A Trip to the Moon.</i> New York: F. M. Lupton, September 9, 1893. Signed by Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> KEY, FRANCIS SCOTT. <i>A Celebrated Patriotic Song, the Star Spangled Banner.</i> 1814.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> [COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER, Amerigo Vespucci ..] Bernardus Albingaunensis .. Dialogo nuperrime edito Genue in 1512.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (WATKINS, TABER &c.). <i>An album of 32 photographs of the Yosemite and American West Various places</i>, c. 1890s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (BATTLE OF CONCORD.) <i>Powder horn used by Minuteman Oliver Buttrick at the Battle of Concord</i>, April 19, 1775.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (CIVIL WAR.) <i>An Extraordinary Confederate Photograph and Autograph Album of Dr. R. L. C. White</i>, 125 original mounted salt prints. 1859-61.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions