Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2015 Issue

Rudolph P. Laubenheimer: An Unusual Opportunity for they who think out-of-the-box

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In the broad categories of books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera there are many ways to parse available material.  The most common ones are by subject, author, form and date range.  Less common are the collections of the practitioners of the underlying arts supporting many aspects of the works in paper field.  As a consequence such material is rarely collected because it is rarely available.  In the upcoming sale at Archives International Auctions on June 25th in New York City, there is the rare opportunity to bid on the life work of Rudolph P. Laubenheimer, Engraver, Die Sinker and Medailleur, one of the leading representatives in the United States in his field from 1858 until his death in 1905. He was apparently as meticulous in his record keeping as he was in the execution of the engravings that were his stock in trade for over 50 years.  We know this because his extensive personal papers and archives are being offered at Archives International on June 25th.

Though this collection should ideally be left intact in a suitable institution due to its unique nature, alas, it is to be scattered to the 4 corners, thus allowing institutions and collectors to bid on individual lots – some 474 of them.  No one is sure what this material is worth and as a consequence the auction house, with the agreement of the consignors, have placed very reasonable estimates that ensure all lots will be sold.  They of course hope the bidding goes higher but no one really knows because it’s a complicated sale.

The range of material includes examples of every type of artwork he executed and his range explained in the introduction to the sale catalogue:

Rudolph’s prolific career spanning 5 decades included designing and fabricating dies for the state seals of New York, Virginia, Maryland, Washington and North Carolina. He was also noted for his extensive Civil War token designs; cameo business and corner cards; U.S., Central and South American postal stationary dies and designs including the 1870 U.S. postal stationary series in which he received a commendation by the U.S. Post Office Department; medal and die production for the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876 and the Columbian Exposition in 1892 as well as numerous medals, tokens, advertising medals, jewelry and decorative designs for various events, topics and causes. He designed, engraved and created dies for coins of Colombia; coats of arms for numerous countries and entities; as well as jewelry dies and decorative objects including various badges for police and fire departments as well as belt buckles including ones for the military. His lithography and engraving work, as well as paintings, sketches and drawings including portraits of many of his friends, still life drawings and paintings and various designs and images used in his craft as well as hundreds of other related items have never previously been offered to the collecting public. On his card he printed “Only the finest and most artistic work is executed and all orders are filled without delay.”

Occasionally such archives are sold.  Years ago I was offered roughly 200 watercolors and sketches executed in the 1848-1860 period by Frederick Copley, not the famous Frederick and probably not even a relative but nevertheless an accomplished artist with a clear eye for detail and dimension.  His material was also difficult to value; it too falling outside of the known categories but it also undeniably valuable.  I bought it immediately and today count it among the best purchases of my collecting career.

One hopes some few self-confident curators; collectors and dealers will see the value in this material.  Some of course will, the only question is how many.  As there are many lots, if the number of bidders is less than the material deserves, the prices may fall well below what they are really worth.  For those who bid regularly at auction this is what you hope for.  If you are the consignor this is what you worry about.

It will be an interesting sale for what it tells us about non-traditional material.  The sale is being widely advertised but so were the early exhibits of French Impressionism that failed to attract an interested audience.  Sometimes material arrives before the community’s understanding.  Some people are going to do very well in this sale.  I just don’t know if it will be the buyers, sellers or, one hopes, both. 

 

Here is a link to the sale.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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