• <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Friend, Wife</i>, graphite & watercolor cover for Judge magazine, May 1920. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Après la Tempête</i>, watercolor, ink & graphite cover for <i>Vogue</i>, April 1919, inscribed to Madame Condé Nast. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Maurice Sendak, <i>Little Bear & His Parents </i>, pencil study & finished watercolor for <i>Bears of the World</i>, 1981. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b><br>Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel), <i>A Great Gallumphing Galoot!</i>, original drawing & inscription, signed twice, in <i>Dr. Seuss's ABC</i>. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Scrapbook relating to the production of <i>Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs</i>, with 20 original drawings, circa 1937. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Charles M. Schulz, <i>Gentleman Biographer</i>, pen & ink, <i>Peanuts</i> comic strip, 1972. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Jerry Pinkney, <i>[Brer Rabbit & Brer Bear]</i>, watercolor, pen & ink on paper, 1990. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> <i>Daffydils</i>, festschrift for Harry Hershfield, signed with cartoons & caricatures by George Herriman, Winsor McCay & others, 1911. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> W.W. Denslow, <i>Higglepy, Piggleby, My Black Hen</i>, ink & gouache, for <i>Denslow's Mother Goose </i>, 1901. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Pavel Tchelitchew, <i>Savonarola</i>, graphite & gouache, sketch for the production at Theater in der Königgrätzer Straße, 1923. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> John Philip Falter, <i>Strictly Off the Record</i>, oil on canvas, for Four Roses Whiskey, 1942. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Movie Scream</i>, pen, ink & watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker</i>, January 1947. $12,000 to $18,000.
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio!</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio!</b>
  • <b>Christie’s Online, Dec. 5 – Dec. 12:</b> <i>John the Baptist</i>. initial 'H' cut from a choirbook [Lombardy or Siena, c. 1470s]. US$6,000–9,000
    <b>Christie’s Online, Dec. 5 – Dec. 12:</b> <i>Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) seated on a terrace with Sikh noblemen</i>. [Punjab, North India, circa 1830-40]. Estimate: US$10,000–15,000
  • <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>

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2013 Issue

Can Secondhand Dealer Legislation Ensnare Even the Collector?

Hillbill

Proposed California law relating to secondhand dealers.

The devil is in the details. California, a leader in legislating things, has long tried to regulate secondhand trade. It is not that they are looking to complicate the world for small sellers who trade in used goods. The problem relates to stolen merchandise. The way one sells such merchandise, or using the proper term, “fence” such merchandise, is generally through the secondhand market, a place where people are frequently willing to buy goods for an unusually low price, no questions asked. One category of goods frequently associated with the trade in stolen merchandise is books. Legislators are aware that libraries provide a ready product source for those who like to sell without first buying their books.

Earlier legislation was mostly focused on pawnbrokers. In another era, thieves generally would bring what they stole to a pawnshop, the most notable seller of secondhand merchandise. However, it is no longer so easy. Flea markets, thrifts shops, eBay and the like have become viable markets for fencing goods. Undoubtedly, law enforcement (and consumers) often see things for sale in such venues and wonder how can they be so cheap. The law probably knows very well. The problem is devising tools that can catch the guilty, while leaving the innocent alone. And that is where the devil arises in the details.

A Los Angeles book collector, Richard Hopp, sent us a copy of a letter (it's actually more like a legal brief) he sent to California Senator Jerry Hill, sponsor of a new round of legislation. Mr. Hopp is particularly concerned about what constitutes a “secondhand dealer.” This is not clearly spelled out. He is concerned about such vendors as garage sales, church and library sales. Will they be ensnared in the licensing, customer tracking, and various other requirements the law would impose on secondhand sellers? Or how about a simple purchaser? Could he be tangled in the definition of a “secondhand seller.”

That last case may sound absurd to you, but Mr. Hopp was himself hauled before a court in Los Angeles in one of the more bizarre of cases involving a city secondhand book dealer code. The city argued successfully in court that Mr. Hopp was an unlicensed book dealer despite their having no evidence that he had ever sold, or attempted to sell, a book. He was a collector who the city determined was a book dealer because he bought books. That conclusion could be enough to strike fear in the heart of every book collector and librarian in Los Angeles, but Mr. Hopp fought city hall and in time he won.

In the Los Angeles case, the law provided that anyone engaged in “the business of buying, selling, exchanging or otherwise dealing in secondhand books...” constituted a book dealer. Richard Hopp was not engaged in the business of “buying and selling,” but he was engaged in “buying or selling.” Since the “or” in the statute only requires one or the other, and he was a buyer, he was deemed a book dealer.

Mr. Hopp conducted his buying in an atypical way for a collector – advertising to buy books and setting up a “buying booth” at shows. The city evidently concluded that someone who bought in this manner must be buying for resale, not for collecting. The problem was that they had absolutely no evidence he ever sold any books, and Mr. Hopp explained that this was the way he filled his collection, giving away or discarding books purchased in bulk he did not want.

Ultimately, Richard Hopp prevailed in court on appeal. The higher court did not focus on the buying and/or selling issue. Instead, it focused on the word “business” in the statute. The court concluded that a business requires some sort of service to the public, and so why he was certainly “buying” books, he was not engaged in the book “business.” Therefore he was not a book dealer.

It's no wonder Richard Hopp would be a bit gun shy about new secondhand dealer legislation, particularly laws such as this that could make book collecting a “criminal profiteering activity.” He suggests making the definition of a secondhand dealer to be “conjunctive and comprehensible and no longer disjunctive and ambiguous.” In other words, for starters, define a secondhand dealer as one who engages in buying and selling used merchandise, not buying or selling it. He concludes, “This proposed change is to protect the collector in his/her hobby, low income person, the disadvantaged, occasional seller, and bargain shopping public so as to no longer classify them as potential criminals. Amendment of the existing codes is needed to achieve their intended purpose, e.g., curtail the sale of stolen property to a 'fence', yet still allow a widow to buy a teapot.”

The problem that Senator Hill and others are trying to fix is a serious one. A readily available market for stolen goods encourages people to steal more. Collectors or buyers can make the situation worse by buying merchandise they have reason to believe is likely to be stolen. Perhaps buyers need to be regulated too, though it is certainly preferable to limit the burdens to those who make a business of trading in used merchandise. We will leave the fashioning of proper legal remedies to the legislators.

However, it is worth noting that this issue never would have arisen had Los Angeles officials applied even the minimum of common sense. They may have suspected that Mr. Hopp was engaged in a secondhand business, but convictions must be based on evidence, not suspicions. Since they had no evidence Mr. Hopp was violating any laws, they tried to twist the law to cover innocent behavior. So now, someone needs to find a way to write needed statutes not only to protect society from the criminal, but to protect the innocent from society, in the form of overreaching law enforcement. No wonder our statutes become such a jumble of incomprehensible legalese.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Rowling (J.K.). Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, original fine black pen and ink manuscript book by the author J.K.Rowling, with 31pp of text and illustrations. £80,000 to £120,000
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Blaeu (Johannes). <i>Vierde Stuck der Aerdrycks-Beschryving, welck vervat Engelandt</i>, i.e. <i>Theatrum Orbis Terrarum</i>. vol 4, England & Wales. £10,500 to £12,500
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Miró (Joan). L'Homme au Balencier, etching, aquatint and carborundum, printed in colours on Japan paper, signed in pencil lower right. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Steve McCurry (b.1950). Afghan Girl, 1984, pigment inkjet print, signed and numbered 48/250 in pencil on lower margin. £2,500 to £3,500
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Keough (Pat and Rosemarie). <i>Antarctica</i>, no 228 of 950 copies, signed by the authors, many colour illustrations, original dark grey morocco. £2,800 to £3,200
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Rowlandson (Thomas). Darby & Joan, the idyllically contended couple sit either side of a stove in a cosy domestic interior, ink and watercolour on wove paper. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Procktor (Patrick). Tiny blue-eyed goldfish, watercolour, 310 x 460mm., signed in blue crayon, lower right, titled and inscribed Muscat Jan 19. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Iouri Abramochkin (b.1936). Horsemen, Dagestan, 1968, Lambda print, printed later, signed, dated, editioned 1/8 and annotated in black ink verso. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Ravilious (Eric).- Shakespeare (William). Twelfth NIght, or, What You Will, number 79 of 275 copies , wood-engraved title. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Books and Works on Paper, including Fine Photographs. December 14, 2017</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Michelangelo.- Chastel (André). <i>The Vatican Frescoes of Michelangelo</i>, Photography by Takashi Okamura, 2 vol., one of 600 sets, colour plates. £500 to £700
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Wyndham (John). <i>The Day of the Triffids; The Kraken Wakes; The Chrysalids;</i> together with 8 other volumes. All first editions. £400 to £600
    <b>Bloomsbury, Dec. 14:</b> Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946). Goats Along The Seine, 1894. Photogravure, printed 1990s by Dorothy Norman, one from an edition of 40 published by Aperture. £400 to £600
  • <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SAINT-EXUPERY, ANTOINE DE. Kodachrome Film (16mm) showing Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Consuelo on a boat, 1942. JOINED: Guestbook for the Boat, signed, with a drawing of the Little Prince. 15 000 to 20 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> CANDEE, HELEN CHURCHILL. Autograph manuscript. TITANIC, 40 leaves. Original account of the most famous shipwreck, by a survivor of the ordeal. 300 000 to 400 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> TITANIC. Collection of 7 documents relating to the shipwreck of the Titanic (14 April 1912). 20 000 to<br>30 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> DUPLEIX DE CADIGNAN, JEANBAPTISTE. Signed autograph manuscript. Thirty years of memoirs related to military services and important information on the American War of Independence.<br>40 000 to 50 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> CURTIUS. Faiz et Conquestes d'Alexandre [Histoire d'Alexandre le Grand]. In French, illuminated manuscript on paper and parchment, 16 large miniatures. 300 000 to<br>500 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> NELSON, HORATIO. Signed autograph letter, ‘Nelson & Bronte,” aboard the Amazon, 14 October 1801, addressed to Sir William Hamilton. 4 000 to 5 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> GIROLAMO FRANCESCO MARIA MAZZUOLI DIT LE PARMESAN. Le couple amoureux. Pen and brown ink. 80 000 to 120 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SADE, DONATIEN-ALPHONSE-FRANÇOIS, MARQUIS DE. Autograph manuscript. The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage, 1785.<br>4 000 000 to 6 000 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> MIRÓ, JOAN. Signed autograph correspondence to Thomas and Diane Bouchard (1949-1976). 50 000 to 60 000 €
    <b>Les Collections Aristophil:<br>December 20, 2017</b>
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> BALZAC, HONORÉ DE. Signed autograph manuscript, Ursule Mirouët, [1841]. One of only two manuscripts of novels by Balzac in private hands. 800 000 to<br>1 200 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> LENOIR, ALEXANDRE. Essai sur l'histoire des arts en Egypte pouvant servir d'appendice au grand ouvrage de la Commission. autograph manuscript with numerous additions and corrections. 40 000 to 50 000 €
    <b>Collections Aristophil, Dec. 20:</b> SCHRÖDINGER, ERWIN. Autograph manuscript [Spring 1946, sent to Albert Einstein]. 1 500 to 2 000 €
  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: Fine Books & Manuscripts. December 11, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> Wright, Frank Lloyd. An important collection of early letters from Wright to members of his family. 1909–1926. $60,000 to $80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> Rand, Ayn. Ayn Rand's important first speech delivered at the Ford Hall Forum. $60,000 to $80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> Tolkien, J.R.R. <i>The Hobbit or There and Back Again</i>. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1937. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> [Flemish Flower Manuscript]. Lille, Spanish Netherlands: 1630. $50,000 to $60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 11:</b> García Márquez, Gabriel. Two drafts of an early short story, "Rosas Artificiales.” $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: History of Science and Technology. December 12, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> Enigma M4. A Fully Operational Four-Rotor ("M4") Kriegsmarine Enigma Cipher Machine, 1944. $350,000 To $500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> The "Polio" Nobel Prize. The 1954 Nobel Prize Medal for Physiology or Medicine Awarded to Frederick C. Robbins. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> ENIGMA I. A Fully Operational Early Three-Rotor Enigma I Cipher Machine. Berlin, Heimsoeth Und Rinke, Early 1930s. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> Bonestell, Chesley. "Saturn, Viewed From Titan, One of Its Satellites." A Mid 1950's Study for the 360° Titan Panorama. 1 ½ x 20’. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec. 12:</b> Descartes, René. <i>Discours de la Méthode pour Bien Conduire Sa Raison, & Chercher la Verité dans les Sciences... 1637. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Unique Association Copy of Signed Limited Roosevelt, African Game Trails, Extra-Illustrated. $5,000 - 7,500
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 24 Volumes Henry James in 1/2 Morocco - Alvin Langdon Coburn Frontis Illustrations. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> French Surrealism by Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, 1930 Limited Edition in Lovely Condition. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Unique and Beautifully Written Manuscript of 650 Quarto Pages - Unpublished History of Belle-Isle-En-Mer, 1754. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> William Beebe's Classic 4 Volume Work on "The Pheasants," Signed and Inscribed in 1919. $2,000 - $3,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Three Volumes of Washington's War Era Letters Published in New York in 1796. $1,500 - $2,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 19th C. Vintage Album with 48 Sepia Toned Albumen Prints by Fratelli Alinari et. al.<br>$1,500 - $2,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Report of Phipps' Voyage in 1773 In Search of a Passage to India Via the North Pole. $1,500 - $2,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 17 Volumes of Wallace's American Trotting Register, 1874-1891. $1,500 - $2,500
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: Fine Books, Including the Alan Culpin WWI Art Collection – Live Online Auction. Dec. 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Rare First English Edition of Monardes, Joyfull Newes, 1577, Woodcut Illustrations.<br>$1,500 - $3,000
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> 6 Volume Shakespeare Presented to Virginia Congressman Involved in the "Trent Affair". $1,200 - $1,500
    <b>Cowan’s, Dec. 18:</b> Classic Lothar Meggendorfer Movable Book Complete with 8 Chromolithograph Plates, Ca. 1890. $750 - $1,000
  • <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 95. Turing. <i>Systems of Logic Based on Ordinals</i>. Offprint. London, 1939. Robin Gandy's Copy. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 98. Zernike, Fritz. The 1953 Nobel Prize for Physics: The Invention of the Phase-Contrast Microscope. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 111. Apple 1 Computer, operational, with exceptional provenance. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1074. Bruce, Lenny. An unreleased 16 mm film by "Count" Lewis DePasquale featuring Lenny Bruce. $7,000 to $10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1254. Hirohito. Manuscript in Japanese, "The Emperor's Monologue," transcribed by Terasaki Hidenari. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1095. Goldman. Emma. Large archive of correspondence, much of it to Warren Starr Van Valkenburgh. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 109. Wozniak and Jobs. The First Digital "Blue Box", Berkeley, 1972. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 46. Newton, Isaac. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. 1st issue. London, 1687. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 49. Newton. Autograph Manuscript in English, a portion of a draft of Newton's study on revelation. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. Wednesday, December 6, 2017. New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1027. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1st edition, 1st issue. Scribners, 1925. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1042. Hemingway., Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Presentation copy, one of 15 copies. Scribners, 1940. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 6:</b> Lot 1215. A 48-star American Flag, flown from LCT-703, sunk on Omaha Beach, December 1944. $15,000 to $20,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions