• <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Ernest Hemingway, Autograph Letter Signed "Love / Mr. Papa," to Marlene Dietrich, Cuba, 1952. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Alexis de Tocqueville, Autograph Letter Signed, on the publication of <i> Democracy in America </i>, 1837. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Thomas Hart Benton, Autograph Manuscript, draft of <i>The Mechanics of Form Organization in Painting</i>, with sketches, 1926. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Elliot Erwitt, photograph of Kennedy & Eisenhower, signed by both,<br>c. 1960. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> John Adams, Partly-printed Document Signed, as President, countersigned by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, 1798. $4,000 to $6,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Graphite drawing of Albert Einstein, signed by him & the artist, S.N. Swamy, 1950. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Autograph Musical Quotation Signed, London, 1888. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Partly-printed vellum Document Signed, as President, countersigned by Secretary of State James Madison, 1809. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Agatha Christie, Autograph Manuscript notebook with early drafts for numerous novels, Baghdad, circa 1948. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Claude Monet, Autograph Letter Signed to Desmond Fitzgerald, in French, 1889. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Photograph of Fidel Castro, Signed & Inscribed, in Spanish, 1955. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Frederick Stuart Church, archive of 17 illustrated Autograph Letters Signed to Evander Schley, 1905-11. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> <i>The First American Magna Carta. English Liberties.</i> Boston, 1721.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Babbage presentation to Peel, the man who killed the Difference Engine 1832
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Stamp Act. 1765
    <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Central Park Photographs by Prevost 1862
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Salem Witch Trials. Wonders of the Invisible World 1693
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Mammoth print of Millie-Christine, "The Carolina Twins" c. 1868

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2015 Issue

Serendipity and Chance meet at SFPL

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Years ago, the exact number in dispute, but probably around the time of the 1989 earthquake, the San Francisco Public Library disposed of some old and seemingly unwanted accounting books, they oversized and unused, the contents potentially embarrassing or boring.  Their decision-maker, at that moment, decided to dispose of them in the time-honored way, sneaking them into the trash after nightfall: unknown, un-recollected and soon to be forgotten.

 

Word that some interesting old material was going into the library’s dumpsters promoted some anguished calls to volunteers to parse the trash after dark for the very good among the very bad. Into that opportunity some young-at-heart [if not always young themselves] engaged in the unthinkable to save the library from its momentary lapse.

 

For years after no one was quite sure who, if anyone, had what.  After all, the thought that fine and rare material now lay beneath the million tons of trash that has since accumulated at the city dump, was simply too much to consider.  Like religion, in the absence of evidence, you simply have to hope.

 

Among whatever else disappeared back then there were two volumes of the County of San Francisco jailhouse records.  The pages were large, full folio, and each incarceration, the name, the reason, the dates in and out, recorded in hand – suggesting these volumes were the only copies made.  There was more than one jail in the city and these the records for only one of them.  Murderers passed through other doors, the crimes here more about public intoxication, fighting and petty theft than armed robbery.  These were the low hanging fruit.

 

Some sixteen years ago I bought a commercial building on Geary Avenue in San Francisco, made renovations and stepped back to become rich.  It didn’t turn out that way.  I got to know the tenants and they all became like family.  Their problems were my problems and it became more and more difficult to raise the rents.  Six years ago I decided to sell, what I had come to think of as, my charity ward.  The buyer was Raoul Isaac, a very smart and clear spoken man.  We became friends.  He liked old books and we would talk about them from time to time.  When, a few years later, I sought to give roughly a thousand bound volumes of 19th and 20th century volumes away he offered to take them.

 

A year or so later he despaired of making any money with them and donated them to an online literacy project that no doubt today is trying to figure out who they can give them to.

 

At some point he asked for guidance about “some old jail records that looked like they might be worth something.”  Once in hand and after a careful reading to confirm no McKinneys were among the incarcerated, I realized that these were original city records and may not have been legally withdrawn.  I told him I would have to take them to the public library and ask if these were their records.  Raoul agreed, understanding full well they might claim them on the spot.  I made an appointment with Susan Goldstein, city archivist at the Main library.

 

When she saw them she was incredulous.  “These are ours.  They belong to the city archives and, by extension, the people of San Francisco.”  But then I told her the story of the decades earlier calls for help from the library asking the strong and able bodied to save material that was being thrown away.  She walked back her disbelief and agreed to call me in a few days.  In the meantime I left the volumes there until they could determine if they were legally theirs.  A few days later Susan called to say that her department had a number of County jail volumes from the same period in their collection.  The two “found” volumes filled in gaps in the library collection, they had clearly once been theirs but had slipped away, the details of their dispersal now mercifully lost to history, the decision-maker then in charge now forgiven if not forgotten.  “Could they get them back?”

 

Raoul asked that they be returned to him and I later made some effort to put together a deal.  I made some calls and was told these volumes might be worth $2,000 to $4,000 each and then tried to interest the library in raising that much to buy them back.  They were not interested and neither was Raoul in selling them that cheap.  That was three years ago.

 

This past year Raoul suggested he would give them to the library.  “Could I suggest an appraiser?”  He would take the donation as a tax deduction.

 

I then contacted Alan Aimone in Las Vegas.  He for decades worked as a librarian at the U. S. Military Academy Library at West Point and a few years ago retired to the other city that never sleeps.  He would appraise them but the fee might be substantial.  I then explained I was trying to get these books back to the San Francisco Public Library and he reduced his estimate.  Giving stuff away can be expensive and I have only myself to blame for I suggested the valuation to Raoul was probably in the low 5 figures.  It was but I had the currency wrong. 

 

During the ABAA fair week in Oakland in February Raoul and Alan got together and Alan was quite unimpressed.  He came back with a number that might have landed him in the hoosegow himself.  Raoul called to say the value was surprisingly low but nevertheless he would complete the donation to the library.

 

On March 12 we got together at the History Room on the sixth floor of the main library.  Susan was happy and so was Raoul.  A gentleman and an historian had found a way to right an ancient error.  Later I said to Raoul when we had lunch “something good will come of this.”  When the check came I paid.

 

Postscript 

 

Why was I so far off on my out-of-thin-air appraisal of these volumes? This is why we have professional appraisers. As explained below, these volumes were not really "comparable" to other prison records with which I was familiar. Here is Mr. Aimone's explanation of how this, and appraisals in general, are reached. It is a valuable lesson in how professional appraisers approach their art.

 

 By Alan Aimone

 

 

I thank Mr. McKinney for this opportunity to provide an appraiser’s insight.   First, in the interest of “full disclosure,” I have subscribed to Mr. McKinney’s “Americana Exchange,” currently the “Rare Book Hub,” for many years.  I use it often as a source of information for appraisals.  We have also met and spoken on several occasions and I have much respect for Mr. McKinney.

 

Dealers and collectors are typically very knowledgeable about values of items in their area(s) of expertise.   However, achieving and maintaining the designation of “accredited appraiser” requires much study and ongoing continuing education.  Very importantly, accredited appraisers are required to adhere to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice as promulgated by the Appraisal Foundation, which is “authorized by Congress as the Source of Appraisal Standards and Appraiser Qualifications.”

 

Formal appraisals are done for three reasons:  Insurance, Donation and Estates.   Specifically the IRS requires an independent appraisal for a donation valued at $5,000 or more, if the donor is taking a taxable deduction.  In addition, some people want to know the value of items for their own interest or if they anticipate selling their items.  In the case discussed by Mr. McKinney, the appraisal was undertaken because it was thought that the donation value could well meet or exceed the $5,000 threshold for which the IRS requires an independent appraisal.  

 

Accepted appraisal practice requires that after inspection of the item(s) to be appraised, the appraiser must base the appraisal on comparable examples  (“comparables”) and be able to justify adjustments to the value.   A comparable is the same or similar item that is currently on the market, or has recently been sold.   Comparables for books and other print material rarely, if ever, are exactly the same as the item being appraised, of course.   Current market value must be adjusted based on many factors including – but not limited to - condition, provenance and content, including images and collectible signatures.   These same factors, of course, drive the collectability of the item, which drives market value.  Certainly content related to a famous or infamous person or event increases value if there is currently interest in that person or event.   To make that adjustment, requires the appraiser to have much expertise and experience.  Ultimately, however, the adjustments are somewhat subjective, but should be defendable.  In other words, the appraiser should be able to explain why a price was adjusted – either up or down - compared to the comparable samples. 

 

In this case, the jail records that commanded higher prices included photographs of the inmates, were records of persons incarcerated for more serious crimes and contained more details about the criminals.  The two volumes that are noted in the article did not include photographs, involved criminals jailed for lesser crimes (such as drunkenness, domestic disputes, assaults and operating opium dens).  No famous or infamous persons were identified in the two volumes.   They, therefore, have very limited collectability and were appraised at a lower value.   That being said, the volumes are part of the history of the city and might be referenced by genealogists or local historians and have been returned to their rightful location.

 

Finally, the cost of an appraisal is not determined by the value of the appraised item(s) or by the purpose of the appraisal.  Examining the item(s), researching comparables and making appropriate, educated adjustments requires considerable time as well as expertise and experience.  The appraiser’s time to properly and thoroughly complete the appraisal, including a written report is the same regardless of the appraised value or purpose of the appraisal.  

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Book of hours, manuscript on vellum. Around 1520. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>H. Schedel, <i>Liber chronicarum</i>. 1493. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br><i> Biblia germanica</i>. 1475/1476.<br>Est: € 140,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>A. Ortelius, <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum</i>. 1574. Est: € 26,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>L. de Varthema, <i>Die ritterlich und lobwirdig Rays</i>. 1515. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>J. H. van Linschoten, <i>His Discours of Voyages</i>. 1598. Est: € 70,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>J. G. Stedman, <i>Narrative of Surinam</i>. 1806. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>A. von Menzel, <i>Armeewerk Friedrichs d. Gr.</i> 1850-1860. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>G. Heym, <i>Umbra Vitae</i>. 1924.<br>Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Master binding by G. Levitzky. 1914. Est: € 2,500
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>R. Char, <i>A la santé du serpent</i>. 1954. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Nam June Paik, <i>Fluxus Testament</i>. 1975. Est: € 18,000
  • <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Ackermann, Rudolph—Uwins, Thomas. A collection of 240 drawings for Rudolph Ackermann's <i>Repository of Arts</i> magazine, 1809-1828. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Willem Janszoon, and Joan. <i>Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Sive Atlas Novus in Quo Tabulae et Descriptiones Omnium Regionum.</i> 1640-1654. £100,000 – 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Mercator, Gerard and Jodocus Hondius. <i>L’Atlas ou Méditations Cosmographiques de la Fabrique du Monde et Figure Diceluy.</i> 1613. £60,000 – 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Speed, John. <i>The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, Presenting an Exact Geography of the Kingdom of England, Scotland, Ireland and the Isles Adjoyning...</i> £100,000 – 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Wit, Frederick De. [General Atlas], With The Engraved Title For Atlas Maior. Amsterdam, [C.1688-1696]. £50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Kuntz, Joh. Rudolph. <i>[Abbildungen Königlich Württembergischer Gestütts-Pferde von Orientalischen Racen.</I> Stuttgart: Ebner 1823–1824]. £30,000 – 40,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Lawrence, T.E. Ivory Silk Thawb, Or Under-Robe, Presented by Lawrence of Arabia to a family friend. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Joan. <i>Archipelagus Orientalis Sive Asiaticus</i>. Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, [1659]. £200,000 – 250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Joan. <i>Asiae Descriptio Novissima</i>. Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, [1659]. £60,000 – 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Japanese bird paintings—(Rinchô Zu). A Pair Of Painted Scrolls of Birds. [Japan, Late 18th Or Early 19th Century]. £25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Huang, Qianren. Da Qing Wannian Yitong Tianxia Quantu [Complete Map of the Whole Unified Country of the Great Qing]. [1803]. £80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Sôkaku or Ryôsei Jôkei. Da Ming Sheng Tu, [Map of (China Under) The Great Ming Dynasty]. (1691 Or 1711). £80,000 – 120,000
  • <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> BROWNING, ELIZABETH BARRETT. Autograph Manuscript Initialed ("E.B.B."), being the working notebook for the poems contained in <i>The Seraphim and Other Poems</i>. $400,000 to 600,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> WILDE, OSCAR. Two leaves, pp 31-34, from the first appearance of <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine for July, 1890</i>, with Wilde's autograph revisions. $40,000 to 60,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies; Published according to the true Originall Copies. Second Impression. [THE SECOND FOLIO.]</i> $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> KENNEDY, JOHN FITZGERALD. Photograph Signed ("John F. Kennedy") and Inscribed, 8 x 10 inch gelatin silver print, of Senator Kennedy and Miss Barelli, at the swearing of the secretarial oath for Miss Barelli. $1,200 to 1,800
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> COOPER, JAMES FENIMORE. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter XXVII of <i>Afloat and Ashore</i>. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> IRVING, WASHINGTON. Autograph Manuscript, being Chapter 20 from Volume IV of <i>The Life of George Washington</i>. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> VERNE, JULES. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Jules Verne"), being the complete short story "<i>Une fantaisie de docteur Ox</i>". $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> ALCHEMY. <i>[The Crowning of Nature, or Coronatio Naturae.]</i> Original alchemical manuscript on paper, ruled in red, with watermark of the arms of Schieland. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> DE JODE, CORNELUS. 1568 - 1600. <i>Quivirae Regnu, Cum Alija Versus Borea</i>. [Antwerp: Arnoldum Coninx, 1593]. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, March 9. Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Kennedy Years</b>
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> HOOKER, JOSEPH DALTON. <i>The Rhododendrons of Sikkim-Himalaya; Being an Account, Botanical and Geographical, of the Rhododendrons Recently Discovered in the Mountains of Eastern Himalaya</i>… $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> CATLIN, GEORGE. <i>North American Indian Portfolio. Hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains and prairies of America. From drawings and notes of the author, made during eight years' travel.</i> $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Mar. 9:</b> LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. HESLER, ALEXANDER. Platinum print, 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 in, of a beardless Lincoln, 1860.<br>$2,000 to 3,000
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant

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