• <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>H. Schedel, <i>Buch der Chroniken,</i> 1493. Est: € 120,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Latin and Book of Hours, around 1500. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Biblia latina, Koberger printing 1493. Est: € 4,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>P. de Medina, <i>Libro de grandezas,</i> 1549. Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>C. J. Trew, <i>Plantae selectae,</i> 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>A. de Laborde, <i>Voyage pittoresque,</i> 1806-20. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>G. Klimt, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> 1931.<br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>W. Kandinsky, <i>Klänge,</i> 1913.<br>Est: € 20,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>F. Léger, <i>Les illuminations,</i> 1949.<br>Est: € 2,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Master binding by E. Maylander, 1945. Est: € 1,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Master binding by G. Cretté, 1934. Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>S. Dalí, <i>Après 50 ans des surréalisme,</i> 1974. Est: € 8,000
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000
  • <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Livres et Manuscrits. November 21, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> ANDRÉ BRETON, <i>La Lampe dans l’horloge.</i> Paris, Robert Marin, 1948. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1959. €15,000 to €20,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> ARTHUR RIMBAUD, <i>Une Saison en enfer.</i> Bruxelles, Alliance typographique, 1873. Binding by Rose Adler. €25,000 to €35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> TRISTAN TZARA, <i>La Bonne heure.</i> Paris, Raymond Jacquet 1955. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1958. €8,000 to €12,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Livres et Manuscrits. November 21, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> PIERRE REVERDY, <i>La Lucarne ovale.</i> Paris, 1916. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1949. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> RENÉ CHAR, PABLO PICASSO, <i>Le Marteau sans maître and Moulin Premier.</i> 1927-1935. Paris, José Corti, 1945. Binding by Rose Adler, dated 1947. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> MARCEL PROUST, Friendly correspondence to the count Louis Gautier-Vignal. 1914-1921. €20,000 to €30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris: Livres et Manuscrits. November 21, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> JEAN COCTEAU, Portrait of the Baron de Charlus, circa 1921-1923. Original drawing signed. €7,000 to €10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> PAUL ÉLUARD, JOAN MIRÓ, <i>À toute épreuve.</i> Genève, Gérald Cramer, 1958. First illustrated edition. €15,000 to €25,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> PAUL VERLAINE, PIERRE BONNARD, <i>Parallèlement.</i> Paris, Imprimerie nationale, Ambroise Vollard, 1900. €15,000 to €25,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Paris, Nov, 21:</b> GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE, ANDRÉ DERAIN, <i>L’Enchanteur pourrissant.</i> Paris, Henry Kahnweiler, 1909. €30,000 to €50,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2015 Issue

Looking Ahead

6a086826-a853-40ec-be4f-0528f57e6050

Cartoon by Rex F. May

Paul Krugman in his book The Conscience of a Liberal, published in 2007, describes the economic history of America since the Civil War as a succession of changing perspectives on taxation. This led me to wonder if tax rates, which are unusually low today, are having an impact on book collecting and rare book valuation.

The Gilded Age that emerged in the 1870s and that lasted until the Great Depression was a time where wealth was highly concentrated, easily maintainable, and not taxed on the top 10% of taxpayers at unusually onerous rates.  During the Depression, after FDR became President, his goal became to radically shift wealth back to the masses though the gradual escalation of tax rates. This lead over the next three decades to greatly elevated tax rates on the wealthy, eventually topping out at nearly 80% around 1955. Twenty-five years later, Ronald Reagan undid this high tax paradigm, replacing it with a two-tiered approach that reduced the rates for all taxpayers but particularly reduced the rates on high incomes.  These tax cuts, now embedded in the American tax system, continue to vastly favor the wealthy.  As a result, the percentage of assets held by those with the highest income has soared while income earned by the middle class has eroded. 

In a comparison between tax rates and rare book pricing as expressed in AE’s auction outcomes over the past 150 years, it is difficult to correlate prices and tax rates in the United States in any of these periods, at least in part because other events consistently intervened; in particular, the Great Depression followed by World War Two, both extraordinary economic periods of stimulus, with the war years also a period of enforced personal saving.  Post WW2, these earnings surged into the economy providing a solid ten years of economic stimulus and creating an enormous middle class that often used the GI Bill to attend college, thus supporting and encouraging institutions to build monumental libraries with vast and important special collections that over the next fifty years would dominate rare book acquisition.

Today such broad based rare book acquisition is in decline, many institutions now maintaining but no longer aggressively building their collections. Their focus has shifted to gifts, narrowing collections and repurposing facilities. 

Since the early eighties in addition to lower tax rates we also have seen the rise of the Internet, the extraordinary connectivity tool that makes inventories and the contents of printed material accessible.  Both aspects have transformed the world of old and rare books.  Whether declining tax rates or increasing access is the most important factor is unclear.  Databases such as Abe Books now warehouse the descriptions and prices of material from all over the world – permitting in a few keystrokes the searching of more than a hundred million books that are available for purchase.  As well, Google Books and others now provide full access to the texts of out of copyright material. 

These changes have then led to a redefining of what is rare and also made it appropriate to ask librarians if their job is to provide fully searchable text or the original printed texts.  About ten years ago librarians by a margin of 70/30 said their job was to provide the searchable text.  A few years ago the numbers shifted to 85/15, and one well-placed dealer said the numbers were shifting to 90/10.  The role of rare books is changing.

The cost to maintain such collections is also rising, while the flow of visitors is declining.  The costs of rising security, preservation, and personnel are now being gauged against traffic that is falling as researchers increasingly use electronic access to full texts rather than make time consuming and sometimes expensive trips to view printed copies first hand.

This will eventually lead to the dismantling of many library collections. Not all, but many will be redistributed within the library world and/or sold to dealers or sent to auction.  The cost of maintaining such libraries is becoming too high to justify the many related and unavoidable expenses that are attendant to such collections so it seems a certainty that many will be disposed.   But the stages of acquisition, holding, refocusing, and dispersal will be measured in decades, not years.  Most of what will happen will happen well into the future, and the reasons seem less to do with economic periods than with increased information and changing technologies that recalculate the access/ownership equation and increasingly favor access over object.  This suggests a tsunami of new collectors will be needed over the next twenty years to offset library outflows, something I think is achievable because collecting possibilities have probably never been better. 

But how do we make the case to the book collectors of tomorrow once they are identified?  It will require every hand; the booksellers associations, the auctions, the listing sites, the libraries, and the rare book research sites all to play their part.  Those involved with old and rare books understand its power.  The challenge is to convey that power.  

In 2015, and in the years ahead, we need to make that case clearly and with conviction.  It will be an act of kindness to them and to ourselves.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Buffon (G.L.M.L., Comte de). <i>Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux,</i> 10 vol., large paper copy, 973 hand-coloured engraved plates drawn and engraved by Franz Nicolaus Martinet, Paris, 1770-86. £70,000 to 90,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Bible (English). The Holy Bible, first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], 1611. £30,000 to 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Marlborough (John Churchill, 1st Duke of).- [Parker (Robert, army officer)] <i>[Memoirs of the remarkable military transactions from the year 1688 to 1718],</i> ?autograph manuscript, 300pp., [c. 1718]. £20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> France.- Paris.- Turgot (Michel Etienne). <i>Plan de Paris,</i> engraved maps, contemporary red morocco, gilt, Paris, 1739. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Mongolia.- Pallas (Peter Simon). <i>Sammlungen Historischer Nachrichten uber die Mongolischen Volkerschaften,</i> first edition, complete with 31 plates, St. Petersburg, 1776-1801. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Brant (Sebastian). <i>Stultifera Navis... The Ship of Fooles, wherein is shewed the folly of all States...,</i> large woodcut title and numerous woodcuts in the text, [London], [John Cawood], 1570. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Aldus.- Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Il Decamerone,</i> Venice, House of Aldus & Andrea Torresani, 1522. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Wallace (Alfred Russel). 77pp. of Autograph letters (and 1 postcard) to various people, 1894-1904, on various palaeontological, geological and natural history matters. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> DNA.- Watson (James D.) and Francis Crick, <i>Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,</i> 1953 [and others]. £5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Optics.- Molyneux (William). <i>Dioptrica nova. A Treatise of Dioptricks, in Two Parts,</i> first edition, for Benj. Tooke, 1692. £5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Economics.- Mississippi & South Sea Bubbles.- <i>Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid,</i> 74 engraved plates and 3 maps, Amsterdam, 1720. £4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Asia.- Clouet (Jean Baptiste Louis). <i>Carte D'Asie Divisée en ses Principaux Etats,</i> engraved map with hand-colouring, on wooden rollers, 1782. £3,000 to 5,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Maria Louise Kirk, 4 pen, ink, watercolor & gouache illustrations for <i>Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,</i> 1904. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> H.A. Rey, <i>“Do You Want To Get Across?”</i> colored pencil, charcoal & watercolor, 1939. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Norman Rockwell, <i>The Pharmacist,</i> study for cover of <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1939. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, illustration for Homer’s <i>Odyssey,</i> gouache & watercolor, 1914. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>“And everyone was in his bed,"</i> gouache, watercolor & ink on board, 1961. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Charles M. Shulz, <i>Woodstock is Searching for His Identity,</i> original pen & ink 4-panel <i>Peanuts</i> comic strip, 1972. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> painted collage, 1990. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Jerry Pinkney, <i>The Lion & The Mouse,</i> watercolor & graphite, illustration for <i>School Library Journal,</i> 2009. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Maurice Sendak, watercolor & graphite illustration for <i>Little Bear's New Friend,</i> 2001. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Peter Arno, <i>Circus Tricks,</i> ink, wash & watercolor, cover illustration for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1964. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury: <i>“Is Rufus Ready for his Lesson?”,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, circa 1970s. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition, in the original wrappers, of the first part of Pushkin’s masterpiece – ‘a bibliographical rarity of the highest order’ (Smirnov-Sokol’skii). £25,000 to £35,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The very rare first edition of Gogol’s first masterpiece and his first obtainable book. £50,000 to £70,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition of Dostoevsky's <i>Brat'ia Karamazovy</i> (1830) in a superb contemporary cloth presentation binding. £22,000 to £30,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition of the first version of the opening of <i>War and Peace,</i> with the original paper covers. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>An early corrected typescript of Akhmatova's <i>Poema bez geroia</i> (July 1946) £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>A presentation copy of the first edition of <i>Kamen</i> (1913) inscribed by Mandel'shtam to his early mentor the poet Viacheslav Ivanov. £60,000 to £90,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>Rare autograph correspondence from Vladislav Khodasevich, including a manuscript of his long poem 'Sorrento Photographs' (1921). £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>An important letter from Marina Tsvetaeva to the poet Nikolai Tikhonov (1935) in which she challenges Pasternak and his views on poetry. £12,000 to £18,000
  • <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>
  • <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> GAZA, Theodorus. <i>Introductivae grammatices libriquatuor.</i> Venice: Aldus Manutius, 25 December 1495. €40,000 to 50,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo. <i>Historie di Nicolo Machiavegli cittadino, et segretario fiorentino</i>... Rome: Antonio Blado, 25 March 1532. €15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> BELLMER, Hans -- ELUARD, Paul. <i>Les Jeux de la Poupée. Illustrés de textes par Paul Eluard.</i> Paris : les Editions Premieres, 1949. €30,000 to 40,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> [BONNARD, Pierre] - VERLAINE, Paul. <i>Parallèlement.</i> Paris : Imprimerie nationale & Ambroise Vollard, 1900. €30,000 to 40,000
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Huttich (Johann) & Grynaeus (Simon). <i>Novus orbis regionum ac insularum veteribus …</i> FIRST EDITION, large woodcut folding map, text illustrations, folio, 1532. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Warhol (Andy) and Frankfurt (Suzie). <i>Wild Raspberries,</i> ONE OF FEWER THAN 100 COPIES, PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed by Warhol in pencil, 1959. £10,000 to 12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Meulen (Adam Frans, van der). Collection of Hunting, Genre and Battle Scenes, 27 copper-engraved views, folio, Paris [c. 1685]. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Tyndale's Bible.- Bible, English. <i> [The Newe Testament yet once agayne Corrected by Willyam Tindale],</i> many woodcut text illustrations and initials, 1536. £8,000 to 10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Jacobson (Ruth Taylor, artist). <i>Messiah's Feast,</i> original stained glass panel, image approx. 1020 x 615 mm., [c.1990]. £8,000 to 10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Wallerstein-Braun (Gitl, sculptor-photographer). 'Jeremiah', original bronze of the Jewish prophet, approx. 210 x 470 (at base) mm., [c. 2010]. £6,000 to 8,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Kadishman (Menashe, artist). <i>Goats Head,</i> original acrylic on canvas painting, [Israel], 2002. £2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Wyllie (W. L.) & Brewer (H. W.). <i>Bird's Eye View of London as seen from a balloon,</i> hand-coloured wood engraving, image 870 x 1100 mm., 1884. £1,800 to 2,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Stained glass window of Jewish interest.- Pilkington glass stained glass window from a demolished synagogue, approx. 580 x 1430 mm. [c.1950]. £1,500 to 2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books and Works on Paper, including Judaica. November 28, 2018</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Auerbach (Tauba, artist). <i>[2,3],</i> #129 of 1000 copies, with card numbered and signed by the artist/author, 6 vol., one cut-out pop-up figure in each volume, different coloured boards. £1,500 to 2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Costumes. <i>Costumi di Roma e dei Contorni,</i> engraved vignette title and 30 plates, Santarello, Rome, 1846; and 3 others (4). £1,000 to 1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov 28:</b> Morris (William). <i>The Well at the World’s End,</i> one of 350 copies, The Kelmscott Press, 1896. £800 to 1,200

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions