Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2014 Issue

It's not easy being green

Ef8574d6-19e1-4670-845e-a5323fcfdf4d

More lots posted since the recent sale ended

Alice Springer at the Friends of the Seattle Public Library spoke with me last week as 21 items the Friends had posted on eBay were grinding toward their conclusion.  The sale had come to my attention when the Queen Anne Neighborhood News Blog mentioned it in my Google newsfeed under rare books.  I had written an article about the San Francisco Friends a month earlier, about their very successful program of converting donations into cash using a variety of strategies; book fairs, used book shops, online and eBay listings.  Here was a chance to see what another library was doing and in particular what they were doing on eBay, a particularly tough marketplace and not one for the faint hearted.

 

The material the Seattle Friends posted was 21 items most of which have ISBN numbers and therefore are capital C common.  Such items tend to have competing copies for sale on Abe Books, in fact thousands in total for the items listed.  eBay auctions, in my experience, tend to be for special, not necessarily valuable, but somewhat uncommon material and with few exceptions this wasn’t what was offered.   Twenty of the 21 items had a starting price [with no reserves] of $9.95.  The other item was mysteriously priced to start at $54.95 and in fact sold for $63.00.  The sixteen items that sold brought $445.26.

 

The material was eclectic.  Okay, it was more random than eclectic and few people in the book business sell that way.  They focus and they concentrate because they know browsers, if they see one item they like, may look at other listings from the same seller.  When the material is eclectic it is almost always a bad sign.

 

For the Friends of the Seattle Public Library there is also some good news.  Few people have seen this experiment and the number of lots listed by the seller’s name [25] say both that this seller is new and doesn’t yet know how best to succeed on eBay.  The Seattle Friends will figure it out.

 

Here are a few suggestions.

 

Just like the big guys do each sale should have a focus.  If the subject is games it should be all games.  It the focus is books signed by their authors every copy should be signed.  If the subject is Seattle and local history every book should be relevant.  If at some point you offer more valuable material such sales should occur at predictable times and be promoted.  To the layman auctions may seem to occur randomly but in fact there are regular and deep patterns.

 

If the library can reach out to area professional booksellers they can provide valuable insight.  One of the inside point men at San Francisco Friends’ selling operations today was once a book dealer.

 

The opportunity for the Seattle Friends is enormous.  The bottom has fallen out of the low end of the trade, now weakened to a point where large-scale library operations employing volunteer labor have real advantages for handling and reselling such material.  In truth such material has fewer places to go and many, and I suspect most, people reject the idea of simply throwing their books away.  So they will welcome the chance to donate them and libraries around the world will have the opportunity to do well by doing good.

 

So take heart Seattle.  The tide is coming in.  To quote Kermit, it’s not easy being green but in time the program will generate some serious money.

 

Here's a link to their website:

www.friendsofspl.org/online-sales.php 

 

Here’s a link to their recent sale:

www.ebay.com/sch/friendsofspl/m.html?_ipg=50&_sop=12&_rdc=1


Posted On: 2014-07-01 14:14
User Name: islandification

Always a fun day to drive some distance to a sale and pay some money to get in, just to find yourself sifting through junk because the better books are only sold online.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,<br><i>The Chap Book</i>, 1896.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,<br><i>Troupe de Mlle Églantine</i>, 1896.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Philippe Henri Noyer, <br><i>Limonade Brault</i>, 1938. <br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b> <br><i>The Great Men of the World</i>,<br>designer unknown, circa 1945-46. <br>$7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>James Montgomery Flagg,<br><i>Wake Up, America!</i>, 1917.<br>$4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Alfred F. Burke, <i>Share / Jewish <br>Relief Campaign</i>, circa 1915.<br>$3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b><br>Ludwig Hohlwein, <i>Marke Pkz / <br>Burger - Kehl & Co.</i>, circa 1911. <br>$8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 3:</b> <br>Gian Emilio Malerba,<i> E.A. Mele / Modo e Novita per Signora</i>, circa 1900. $7,000 to $10,000.
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION, Chicago, 1968). <i>Collection of papers of John M. Bailey, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, concerning the convention</i>. Various places, 1968.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (ARMSTRONG, NEIL.) VERNE, JULES. <i>A Trip to the Moon.</i> New York: F. M. Lupton, September 9, 1893. Signed by Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> KEY, FRANCIS SCOTT. <i>A Celebrated Patriotic Song, the Star Spangled Banner.</i> 1814.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> [COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER, Amerigo Vespucci ..] Bernardus Albingaunensis .. Dialogo nuperrime edito Genue in 1512.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (WATKINS, TABER &c.). <i>An album of 32 photographs of the Yosemite and American West Various places</i>, c. 1890s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (BATTLE OF CONCORD.) <i>Powder horn used by Minuteman Oliver Buttrick at the Battle of Concord</i>, April 19, 1775.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (CIVIL WAR.) <i>An Extraordinary Confederate Photograph and Autograph Album of Dr. R. L. C. White</i>, 125 original mounted salt prints. 1859-61.
  • 20 Jul 2016, starts at 1pm EDT, NY
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Full scale vintage <i>Sputnik-1</i> EMC/EMI Lab Model, with live transmitter. US$ 10,000-15,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Flown SOYUZ-3 space navigation indicator with unflown on-ground transformer. <br>US$ 30,000-40,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Flown on SOYUZ 9<br>An exhaustive manuscript on life in space. [Trans: On-Board Flight Journal for Spacecraft Soyuz-9, 1970]. US$ 6,000-9,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> SOYUZ 18? Flown Navigation Celestial Globe. Soyuz 18 lasted from May 24-July 26, 1975. US$ 30,000-40,000
    20 Jul 2016, starts at 1pm EDT, NY
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Flown Space Suit from ISS Expidition 6. Worn by Flight Engineer Don Pettit on his dramitic return to earth. US$ 25,000-35,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Original Gemini 133P Trainer Assembly Five Part Electrical System & Attitude Maneuver ... US$ 60,000-90,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Lunar Rover Development. Collection of 11 vintage gelatin silver prints and 4 vintage NASA lithographs. <br>US$ 2,000-3,000.
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Lunar Orbiter I. The first image of the earth as seen from the moon. Gelatin silver print. August 23, 1966. US$ 2,500-3,500
    20 Jul 2016, starts at 1pm EDT, NY
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Michael Collins' Flown Crew-Signed Apollo 11 Emblem. One of the very few Armstrong signed mission artifacts. US$ 50,000-70,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Flown Apollo 11 Navigational Chart. Taken to Lunar surface mapping the start of the <br>first manned lunar descent. <br>US$ 25,000-35,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> FFlown Apollo 11 Flight Plan Sheetmission Day One. Some of the first words and data values written by Neil Armstrong. US$ 18,000-25,000
    <b>Bonhams Jul 20: </b> Apollo 12 - Alan Bean in the Ocean of Storms. Signed and inscribed by Bean. <br>US$ 2,000-3,000
  • <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.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions