Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2015 Issue

Opportunities for One Lot Collectors

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Collecting can take years but in a few cases just a few minutes.  Those who treasure the hunt need not read further for if you want a day by day, month by month accumulation of objects purchased at auction, on eBay, online on the listing sites and/or even at the occasional garage sale to build into, over a decade or more, a monument to your intelligence and determination what I am about to tell you may not go down easy.

 

At Addison & Sarova of Macon, Georgia on July 25th they will dispose of some very large lots from the collections of Robert Easton who, who while American, seems to have measured his collection in pounds [the 16 ounce ones].  I say collections because some of his lots amount to lifetime accumulations of narrow sectors of the printed word.  So you can, with one win, both start and complete a collection but you will have to be open-minded about what you collect.

 

Here are two lots to consider.

 

Lot number 260.  This is a shelf lot of more than 2,000 plays.  Here is how it is described:


A very large collection of plays printed between the mid and late 1800s. All are pamphlets in wrappers with condition ranging from Poor to Very Good. Most are VG and intact while some have loose wraps. Due to the ephemeral nature, not many survive in their original state. There are repeats of various plays throughout the collection. Most were published by Samuel French (London and New York.) A sampling of the titles: The Sea of Ice; Or Thirst for Gold **** Po-ca-hon-tas, or The Gentle Savage **** Black-Eyed Susan **** Mazeppa; Or, The Wild Horse of Tartary **** Sardanapalus. King of Assyria **** All's Fair in Love **** The French Spy: Or, The Siege of Constantina **** Hiram Hireout.  And a large quantity of others, similar in subject. None collated, sold as-is with all faults.  Condition for shelf-lot items stated in general terms. Total of approx. 2,000 or more items, retail value in excess of $5,000, weight 190 lbs. From the Library of Robert Easton.

 

For this lot to work you have to be open to collecting 19th century plays, apparently in English.  If you are open to a Samuel French concentration your ship is coming in.  The lot is estimated at $400-$600 but plan to go higher.  For a thousand dollars you can both start and complete this collection.  This is cheap.

 

The other lot, in the past few hours now withdrawn, was for maniacs with ambition.  It’s lot number 265.  It was fittingly the final lot because it contained everything not otherwise catalogued or removed and was called the Mother of all Shelf Lots and was described this way:

 

This is the final lot of this sale, featuring approximately 100,000 books remaining in the Robert Easton estate. The books are located at the Easton estate in North Hollywood, CA. Preview will be available by appointment two weeks prior to the sale (Call 478-787-BOOK to make an appointment.) NOTE: THIS LOT IS PICK-UP ONLY AND LOCATED AT THE EASTON RESIDENCE.  Load-out is the responsibility of the winning bidder.  All books must be removed from the premises no later than 4 weeks after the auction. For more information please visit our site [see below], click on the Robert Easton collection link to find the Mother of all Shelf-Lots!

 

But now this lot 265 has disappeared, the sellers, gulled by the blandishments of buyers who convinced them to let them pick the fresh berries while leaving the unwanted balance to an unsuspecting public who would have bid on July 25th.  In the mean time Addison and Sarova have now cut all ties to the lot.  They had left appealing material in the lot to ensure it would sell.  Now it’s a fool’s purchase.

 

The circumstances of this auction fall into two possible scenarios.  The more common one is that the heirs see money in the real estate and have been encouraged by their broker to think of time as money.  That is smart.  The other is the “who is going to notice a few missing items” theory.  That is dumb.  The answer is that the auctioneer will and their reputation for honesty is more important than any book they will ever sell.

 

The material in lot 265 was always going to be a tough to handle.  The era of big lots full of gems is mostly behind us. 

 

Half dozen years ago I helped an acquaintance dispose of her inventory of a 100,000-item lot of 20th century school texts.  We created a video and sent the material to auction in Kingston, New York.  With a few seconds to go an on-line bidder bid $1,000.  He won and was immediately sorry.  A week later he paid the grand on condition he had no further responsibility.  That lot was later sold twice more on Craig’s list within a few minutes of posting, the first for $3,250 and the second for $2,000.  Loved ones of the $3,250 buyer stepped in to negotiate an orderly withdrawal.  “Keep the money and also keep the books.”  That buyer resisted his family’s entreaties and took with him 3,000 or 4,000 items for his trouble.  The now 96,000 item lot was again resold with a similar result: immediate buyer’s remorse.  Finally the seller conceived something even more original.  She offered her house with more than 90,000 books.  The house had been on the market for years.  Soon after it sold.

 

Big lots are complicated.  There is romance in them but often not much else.

 

The other lots do not have this problem.  Addison & Sarova know what they are doing.  All that I suggest is that you do too.  The Mother of all Shelf lots was estimated $20,000 to $30,000.  How could you have gone wrong?  Let us count the ways.

 

A link to Addison & Sarova

 

A link to the complete auction

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <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>

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