• <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
  • <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>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

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2015 Issue

If you want to have collectors . . .

239e0e51-9a67-4128-9efa-4e5cc3ddf966

If you want to have collectors of books manuscripts, maps and ephemera collecting today and into the future this community will have to have time, interest and money.  Education plays an important part as well but many collectors are self-educated so I don’t feel it’s an absolute requirement, in fact I think collecting is sometimes a compensation for having less education.  Taken as a group [or category] collectors are complex, many of them intensely interesting, a fair number of them over-the-top eccentrics.  They are also the bedrock of collecting in the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera field and without them there is no field or future.

 

But changing fundamentals are undermining the emergence of the next generation of collectors.  The middle class, the principal source of new collectors, has experienced stagnating wages and higher costs for education and other essential services now for almost thirty years.  In the past it was enough to have steady income, interest, and knowledge.  These three ingredients permitted a would-be collector without many resources to embark on a collecting career.  Today sufficient means are more important and also more difficult to come by.

 

For this there are many causes.  Many jobs have been exported and many more will be.  The fundamental nature of a developed economy has shifted from sweat to intellectual labor, from assembly line to development teams.  A small portion of the American community has facilitated this shift, even led this transition.  And as a consequence brute force now matters less.  This places the American economy in transition at a time when the very premise that big government can solve big problems is under attack.  The timing is bad for the challenge for America and Americans is to develop new skills and new perspective and this takes money at the government level and it’s in perpetually short supply because we have significantly reduced taxes on wealth.

 

For much of the 20th century the United States employed progressive tax rates to pay for infrastructure, fund investments on behalf of the nation and reduce taxes for the majority of Americans.  Beginning in the 1980’s however tax rates on all Americans were cut but the most substantial cuts were at the highest income levels.  In time, the money Washington was no longer receiving could no longer be spent.  Financial obligations shifted to the states and to local governments that then cut services.  School days were shortened and many other educational services curtailed or eliminated.  In other words, at the very moment that more government investment has been needed less has been provided while reports now confirm that the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is intensifying to 19th century robber-baron levels.  Less understood is that while a few are quickly accumulating millions, even billions, others are losing their hope and their chances,   

 

 

In the United States today tax rates on earned income for many in the middle class are higher than they are on investment income.  Hence a teacher earning $70,000 may be subject to a marginal tax rate of 25% while an investor earning a million dollars on long-term capital gains pays 23% rate.  The larger story is that capital has been gaining relative strength in its battle with labor.  Said another way, capital is easily employed at a good rate of return while labor has been forced to compete in a world that has more job seekers than jobs.  The net of this is that the value of labor is essentially unchanged over the past three decades while the value and importance of capital has continued to increase.  Said another way, the wealthy are becoming wealthier while they who receive paychecks often see only small increases.

 

For collecting this trend predicts that the rarest and best examples in all collectible fields will continue to find financially capable collectors to buy them.  But for the less important and often obscure material that has always been the first enticement for new collectors and the backbone of everyday sales for most dealers a much larger audience will be needed to absorb what is becoming a much larger supply that dealers, libraries and collectors will increasingly sell.  In the cross hairs on the one side, stock to be disposed and on the other, the emerging new audience, the future of the field will be determined.  The material will come out in torrents.  Waiting expectantly for their opportunity we need an army of new collectors. 

 

In some sense it’s a race against time and this is a shame because collectors cannot be summoned from thin air.   They are not simply born; they are groomed.  For some; their background, intelligence and first introduction to the field in youth, in middle age leads to serious collecting.  But this is a torturous path made infinitely more complex by the Internet that increasingly presents thousands of collecting possibilities and paths to pursue them complete with bright lights and big discounts.  Not so long ago the rare and used book and stamp dealers in small towns had virtual monopolies for promoting collecting in their fields.  And they did so to great effect.  But not so much any more.  These shops have since mostly disappeared into eBay and Abe Books and their owners gone to Florida for their well-earned early-bird specials.  The next generation of collectors will have to get to book collecting by other routes.  And to get to that point they first need to be exposed.  Hence the anguish about the declining number of old, used and rare bookshops and the often expressed lament, where are the new collectors?   The local bookshop has been the place where the new collector and their first collected material first embraced.  It now occurs at a dispassionate remove with UPS and Federal Express delivering the goods if not the charm that was once a key ingredient in the introduction and seduction associated with first purchases.

 

The decline in bookshops has not of itself signaled an immediate decline in book collecting which is a field where the hook first implanted often does not ensnare the collector until they are greying at the temples.  But this decline will come as fewer new collectors emerge from the old model.  The next generation will have to emerge from other routes.  And it’s possible.

 

There is some evidence that collectors are simply rerouting their impulses via the tools available on the web.  They are buying more at auction and they are buying at auction much earlier than collectors once did.  And where once single copies offered at shops with succinct explanations were saleable at randomly established prices today there are online sellers that easily and instantly confirm importance and price.  Collectors increasingly know to search for this information and dealers have come to expect collectors to do this.  These are the collectors who have entered the arena. 

 

But where are the others and by what routes will they join this collecting community?  Their paths to introduction are less clear and whether they will have the resources to invest significantly in collecting is also uncertain.  And this will be terribly important.  Collectors emerge most often from the middle class, a middle class that in America was built on progressive tax rates that reallocated from the top to aid the poor and the middle class.  We aren’t doing this so much now.  On the political right it has been decided that wealth is the engine of prosperity while on the left, they believe as they have for the past 100 years, that the strength of the middle class is the strength of the nation.  But these days we are living in the shadow of Ronald Reagan and in an era of very low taxes on wealth.  As outcomes of this policy increasingly take hold our infrastructure rots and our public schools decline.  And correspondingly, the interest in the collectible printed materials that the middle class once bought is also declining.  There are many reasons for this, not only tax policy, but tax policy is the most important reason for the decline in book collecting.  Reversing this may take decades.

 

The wealthy never needed these tax cuts.  They make their money not because they are lucky but because they are smart.  But for the middle class who need more tax breaks and lower rates to pay their mortgages and raise their children there is wage stagnation and reduced local services.  And somewhere in among the millions affected by these regressive tax policies there are hundreds of thousands of the next generation of collectors, proverbial buds on the tree that may never flower.

 

So that’s the predicament.  The wealthy are our best customers but there will not be enough of them to absorb all the material that will come to market.  What’s needed is a stronger middle class and to restore that strength we need to significantly increase the tax rates on wealth.  Can we do it?  I don’t know.  But I do know that for the collectible book field to prosper we’ll need to restore collecting as a middle class prerogative.

 

If not, the market will continue to strengthen at the top and weaken at the bottom.  And we should be able to do better than that.  


Posted On: 2015-07-01 12:20
User Name: LDRB

A superb insight to the realities of collectors and collecting. Can we do it? I don't know. These two comment are really the keys.
I would think that the ones who benefit the most are the ones to be most motivated to provide answers and develop solutions. Who are these?
Two organizations come to mind when I think of this question, not necessarily in this order:
1) Trade organizations starting with ILAB to IOBA,
2) Auction Houses from Christie's to Ebay.
Can these groups jointly form a task force or think tank, develop ideas and most importantly, make them successfully happen?
The current situation in Greece comes to mind when a solution for the broader good cannot be found.
Perhaps Bruce, you might be the "chair" or ambassador representing the "new collector" group and invite key leaders from these "benefit groups" to participate in a conference?
Why not?
Duncan McLaren
Lord Durham Rare Books


Posted On: 2015-07-03 11:21
User Name: don11cs

Thanks for letting us know the "wealthy never needed these tax cuts"! Your economic history and tax policy analysis is sophomoric. Stick to collecting.


Posted On: 2015-07-03 21:31
User Name: AE244154

They didn't and I don't.

Bruce McKinney


Posted On: 2015-07-04 14:04
User Name: don11cs

Now that you put it that way, of course, you must be right. That's exactly what the middle class and future collectors needs, higher taxes on success and more government spending. Fantastic recipe for economic growth! In that case I think I'll invest in a rare book shop in Greece and Venezuela. (and by the way, nothing preventing you from paying more if you think you not taxed enough or you could cut out the middleman and not charge fees for your services. That would encourage collectors).


Posted On: 2015-07-06 15:38
User Name: willie1874

How does Mr. McKinney think that taking money from the private sector where rare books are purchased and putting it into the government sector is going to increase the sale of books? The government isn't going to use the money to buy rare books of course. And will more government tinkering with the economy finally help the middle class when it has failed over the past 50 years? To continue to hold this belief is a delusion. There are cultural changes, as well as economic changes, in the United States which have led to a decline in new book collectors along with the decline of many other traditions.
Craig V. Showalter
Book Collector


Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III). April 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Clemens, Samuel L. <i>The Writings Of Mark Twain.</i> New York And London: Harper & Brothers, 1904to1906. $80,000 to 120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Biggers, Earl Derr. <i>The House Without a Key</i>. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1925. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Bukowski, Charles. Extensively revised typescript of his novel <i>Factotum</i>. [Los Angeles, c. 1973 to 75]. $50,000 to 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III). April 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Dickens, Charles. Autograph quotation from <i>A Christmas Carol</i> signed ("Charles Dickens" With Paraph). $25,000 to 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Fitzgerald, Zelda. A group of paper dolls with costumes, circa 1927. $25,000 to 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. <i>Men Without Women</i>. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928. $25,000 to 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: The Maurice Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part III). April 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Lawrence, T. E. Autograph letter signed ("TE Shaw") completing the order for George VII — The Brough Superior motorcycle on which he was killed. $5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Steadman, Ralph. "Somewhere Around Barstow". $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Jones, Robert Tyre ("Bobby"), and O. B. Keeler. <i>Down The Fairway: The Golf Life And Play Of Robert T. Jones, Jr.</i> New York: Minton, Balch, 1927. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY Apr. 24:</b> Ruth, George Herman ("Babe"). <i>Babe Ruth's Own Book Of Baseball</i>. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1928. $8,000 to 12,000
  • <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 37. Anonymous, <i>[Untitled - Ancient World]</i>, 1553. Est. $20,000 - $23,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 45. Cellarius, <i>Haemisphaerium Stellatum Australe</i>, 1708. Est. $2,400 - $3,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 51. Kircher, <i>Systema Ideale quo Exprimitur</i>, 1665. Est. $1,600 - $1,900
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 152. David H. Vance, <i>Map of the United States of North America</i>, 1825. Est. $8,000 - $10,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 309. Mark Storm, <i>Official Texas Brags Map of North America</i>, 1948. Est. $350 - $425
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 426. B. Crété, <i>Carte Symbolique de l'Europe / Europe en 1914</i>, 1915. Est. $2,000 - $2,300
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 636. Hartmann Schedel, <i>Folio LXIIII - Destruccio Iherosolime</i>, 1493. Est. $1,100 - $1,400
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 649. Heinrich Bunting, <i>Asia Secunda pars Terrae in Forma Pegasi</i>, 1581. Est. $3,000 - $3,750
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 747. Theodore de Bry, <i> [Lot of 22 - Complete Set of De Bry's Virginia Natives]</i>, 1590. Est. $6,000 - $7,000
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 769. Lotter/Lobeck, <i>Atlas Geographicus Portatilis</i>, 1760. Est. $1,900 - $2,200
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 772. Henry Teesdale, <i>A New General Atlas of the World</i>, 1835. Est. $1,200 - $1,500
    <b>Old World Auctions, Apr. 26:</b> Lot 777. Marco Coltellini, <i>[3 Volumes] Il Gazzettiere Americano</i>, 1763. Est. $5,500 - $7,000
  • <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b>  Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, The Moon, From a Negative taken at the Observatory of Mr. L. M. Rutherfurd...May 19, 1874. Est: $5,000-8,000 (Lot 3)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Alvin Langdon Coburn. London. With 20 photogravures by Coburn and text by Hilaire Belloc, London and New York: 1909. First edition. Est: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 32)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Lee Friedlander, Newark, New Jersey, 1962 and Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1972.<br>Est: $7,000-9,000 (Lot 50)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> The  papers of Brevet Major General John Gross Barnard (1815-1882), Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac. Est: $75,000-100,000 (Lot 160)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> James Joyce, Dubliners, London: Grant Richards, 1914. First edition. Est: $5,000-8,000 (Lot 362)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> George Sand, Group of five volumes inscribed to Henry Harrisse. Est: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 405)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Thomas More, Sir, Saint [Utopia]: De optimo reip. statu deque nova insula utopia libellus vere aureus… Basel: Froben, March 1518. First Basel edition. Est: $15,000-25,000 (Lot 308)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Johannes Brahms, Autograph letter in German signed "Joh. Brahms.” Est: $4,000-6,000 (Lot 285)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Kelmscott Press, [Guilelmus, of Tyre, Archbishop]. The History of Godefrey of Boloyne. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1893. Est: $2,000-3,000 (Lot 270)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Gilles Robert de Vaugondy, Gilles Didier, Atlas universel...Paris: the author and Boudet, 1757[-58]. Est: $10,000 - $15,000  (Lot 222)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> John Keats, Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of Saint Agnes and Other Poems. London: Taylor and Hessey, 1820. First edition. Est: $5,000-7,000 (Lot 399)
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> Specimen book of Schumacher & Ettlinge, between 1870-1895. Original roan-backed boards.. Est: $2,000-3,000 (Lot 195)

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