• <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Inviting Quality Consignments</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 30:</b> Carte-de-visite album featuring a previously unrecorded image of Harriet Tubman, 1860s. Sold for $161,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Hovhannes Amira Dadian, first world atlas in Armenian, Venice, 1849. Sold for $37,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 16:</b> T.E. Lawrence, <i>Seven Pillars of Wisdom</i>, privately printed edition, inscribed, London, 1926. Sold for $62,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Inviting Quality Consignments</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 14:</b> 22 large-format photographs from NASA missions, 1965-84. Sold for $43,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 21: </b> Charles M. Schulz, <i>Here Comes the Big Polar Bear</i>, pen & ink, 4-panel Peanuts comic strip, 1957. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 4:</b> Elliott Erwitt, photograph of JFK & Eisenhower, signed by both, 1960. Sold for $32,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Inviting Quality Consignments</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> John Milton, <i>Paradise Lost</i>, first edition, London, 1668. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 30:</b> Frederick Douglass, Autograph Letter Signed to George Alfred Townsend, Washington, 1880. Sold for $100,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> <i>Les Maîtres de l'Affiche</i>, 5 volumes, Paris, 1896-1900. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Inviting Quality Consignments</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 16:</b> James Joyce, <i>Ulysses</i>, first edition, number 724 on handmade paper, Paris, 1922. Sold for $33,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 9:</b> Single leaf of the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, 1455, in a copy of Newton's <i>A Noble Fragment</i>. Sold for $52,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 27:</b> The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold for $52,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July 8: Rare Books & Manuscripts</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Walter Gibson's Complete Run of The Shadow. 48 bound volumes, 1931-44. $8,000-12,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Frederic Shoberl, The World in Miniature: Hindoostan. 6 volumes. $2,000-4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> A Rare Copy of the Earliest Chicago Newspaper to Report on the Great Fire of 1871. $6,000-8,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July 8: Rare Books & Manuscripts</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Broadside Proclamation by Mayor Roswell B. Mason for the Preservation of Good Order Following the Great Fire of 1871. Chicago. $4,000-6,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Peter Force Engraving of the Declaration of Independence. One page. Scarce and highly collectable. $15,000-20,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> John Quincy Adams. The Jubilee of the Constitution. A Discourse. First edition. Inscribed. 1839. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July 8: Rare Books & Manuscripts</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Cuban Revolution: Expedicion y Desembarco del “Granma.” Havana, ca. 1959. With portraits of the Castro brothers & Che Guevara. $150-250
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Osuna Ramos. A group of 28 photographs of the Mexican Revolution & aftermath in Mexico City, 1910-1920. 4½ x 6”. $400-600
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Charles Bukowski. Hot Water Music. First edition with original signed painting. 1983. $2,000-4,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, July 8: Rare Books & Manuscripts</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Alan Ginsberg. Five Page Autographed Letter. Signed. February 10, 1971. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Andy Warhol’s Children’s Book. Featuring 12 color illustrations. Signed 5 times. 1983. $5,000-7,000
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions July 8:</b><br> Albrecht Durer. The Martyrdom Saint John the Evangelist. Woodcut, 1511 edition. $1,000-2,000
  • <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s:<br>De la musique avant toute chose… June 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Roland de Lassus. [Songs and madrigals]. Album gathering three collections of secular music for tenor. 15.000-20.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Richard Wagner. <i>Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.</i> Original edition corrected and annotated by Wagner. 60.000-80.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Claude Debussy. <i>La Damoiselle élue</i>. Lyrical poem, after D.-G. Rossetti. Limited edition of 160 copies. 6.000-8.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s:<br>De la musique avant toute chose… June 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Stéphane Mallarmé. Handwritten notebook made by Geneviève Mallarmé. No place or date [circa 1910]. 10.000-15.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Henri Sauguet. <i>Les Forains</i>. Ballet. Reduction for piano. Original edition. 20.000-30.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Athanasius Kircher. <i>Musurgia Universalis sive Ars Magna Consoni et Dissoni in X. Libros digesta.</i> 1650. 30.000-40.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s:<br>De la musique avant toute chose… June 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> François Villon, & Clément Marot. <i>Les Œuvres de François Villon de Paris, Reviewed and gathered by Clement Marot.</i> 15.000-20.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Rainer Maria Rilke. <i>Larenopfer</i> (Offrande aux dieux Lares). The second collection of Rainer Maria Rilke, containing ninety poems. 6.000-8.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Paul Éluard. <i>Capitale de la douleur.</i> One of the most beautiful poetic collections from the first surrealist wave. 15.000-20.000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Pierre de Ronsard. <i>Les Amours</i> ... newly augmented by him, and commented by Marc Antoine de Muret. 40.000-60.000 €

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2015 Issue

Collecting on a Budget

C276a48b-d9b1-4419-a864-3c20cc0d6191

Ephemera, images, books, correspondence

Passion and practicality coexist in human beings, in a relationship that shifts from second to second.  We are at once interested and disinterested, cost and value in constant flux, our interests and needs constantly juxtaposed leading to “I’d like it but…”.  Nevertheless many of sound mind and high spirits are inexorably drawn to collectible books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera that are hardly as certain as gold or as negotiable as currency, they of this persuasion some small percentage of the population that interprets the world through the lens of the printed form and deems they must not only understand it, they must also own it.

 

For most of the past two centuries the printed word was the preeminent form of information transfer, the one form flexible and inexpensive that could adjust for the gathering avalanche of information that carried civilization from its agrarian roots in the 18th century to the industrial/educational social complex it is today.  The best answer, by default, was the medium of print for which there were no serious ravels until there were.  A hundred years ago newspapers that were more pictures than text [on a column inches basis] began to push past the more solid editorial products that serious newspapers had been.  These tabloids would seamlessly then coexist with the movies and radio that delivered news and entertainment in the era leading to the Second World War.

 

Mid-century the introduction of television and the opportunity to receive the news in laconic form from favored pundits quickly ushered in the era where entertainment more than information would come to satisfy the public’s daily curiosity.  This is turn begin to redefine the scale of what we could know.  If fifty years before the news was general and a day late, now it would transition into real time.  In the era preceding we saw the world in broad strokes.  In the age of television we would begin to know people and events in increasing detail.  Pictures were worth a thousand words.

 

In those transitional moments the fate of the printed word for the vast majority of adults was probably determined.  Cycles do not start or stop on anyone’s schedule.  They go on for some too long because many are comfortable with what and how they know while others, anxious about what they don’t, paw at the always-rising dawn for portents of tomorrow.  They became the early adapters whose emerging future then has become the world we know today.  And this is where we are now, the world we knew daily dismembered on line and a new world rising from alternatives that a few years past did not exist.  In these changes the place and rank of books has declined.

 

These days those involved with old and rare books are in the midst of this significant change and many, I think in fact most, are adapting.  But it is difficult because the very foundational sense of the book is under attack.  It seems books were only ever the medium of exchange for most so when a more convenient form emerged they simply moved on.

 

That is, most moved on.  For some 10% of the population the printed word and image in their traditional forms remain their best alternative for learning and interpreting.  They prefer the look and feel of books, original prints, and manuscript documents while rejecting their erzats online cousins that look the same.  For them the history of the material itself is important.  It is part of the story.

 

For they of this persuasion wishing to collect knowing how and what to select/buy is becoming an new art because the options are so different today.

 

The traditional approach is to select an area and then study related bibliographies that encompass portions of the potentially interesting area.  Such bibliographies however are an increasingly dated form because what separates the current era from the past is our gathering awareness of the many other forms of printed material that surface regularly and that do not regularly appear in bibliographies.  Today we know that books are but a single form of paper collectibles.  We know this because we are daily exposed via the Internet to new material that is not listed anywhere else and have little or no transaction history. 

 

So how does a new collector adjust?  By accepting that single sheets or pamphlets, ephemera, maps or manuscripts are as collectable as books.  And that as a consequence every field and subject today is exponentially larger and prices generally lower than they were a decade ago.  In short, collecting is being transformed.

 

The essential difference then is the explosion in access beyond primary, to secondary, tertiary and granular material that is for the first time available en mass - opening unimagined study and collecting opportunities that turn even narrow subjects into 1,000 pieces jigsaw puzzles.

 

I have been on both sides of this divide having collected early material [before 1625] relating to Florida.  I collected in the 1990-2005 period and sold the 81 items I had collected in 2009 for on average of $37,000 a lot.  In 2010 I sold a much larger emerging America collection of more than 325 items for about $8,000 each.  Today I collect the history of the Hudson Valley in New York and buy both top of the line books, maps and ephemera but also boxes of obscure paper; receipts, letters, broadsides, photographs, Sanborn maps, and directories.  Much of this later material costs as little as a few dollars.  As to scale, I already have more than 5,000 items with no end in sight.

 

For the emerging collector then it’s possible to collect in the traditional way but it’s also useful to understand there are new ways.  Particularly for collectors with budgets there are many opportunities to acquire interesting material for a song.  Here are some examples.

For a collector on a $2,000 annual budget choose a narrow subject and develop your own bibliography.  Those who subscribe to the Rare Book Hub Transaction database can search one or more terms to see a very complete picture of all related transaction records over the past 100 years.  Here are some examples:

Poughkeepsie      932 records
Necromancy      60 records
Thomas Edison      2,021 records
Mississippi River      23,109 records
Ernest Hemingway      7,545 records
Dr. Seuss      1,855 records


For Hudson River collecting here are some estimates of items per year and cost to obtain.  These numbers are by purchase venue and subject:

Local Directories.  1 every 18 months, about $200

Local Railroad material. 2-3 items per year.  Values are all over the place

Local Disaster Postcards.  2-3 a year.  About $40 each.

Munsell Imprints.  8 unduplicated imprints each year.  About $40 each

Photography.  An important collection every 2 years, $3,000 to 10,000

Local Sanborn Maps.  Important local mapsonce every 2 years.

 

Virtually every subject has a history.  From such searches you can develop a scale of the possibilities.  Then look around the web for available prices and compare these examples to those that have sold.  You’ll see patterns in the pricing.

 

As to a $5,000 budget it’s simply a matter of how fine the mesh of your searches are.  I can assure you there will always be more material to buy than you have the budget to pay for.  And I can also assure you that within a year you’ll be grading your purchases both for quality and value.  Taken altogether, spending less at the outset will yield significant dividends in time.  It simply takes time to feel the market.

 

Whatever the budget the pursuit will be worthwhile.  We are living in a golden era.  Great collectors, long gone and peeking down from heaven’s balustrades are no doubt wondering about our amazing luck and wishing they could come back.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Cowan’s Auctions: An Eclectic Collection: The Library of the Late Dr. Ivan Gilbert of Columbus.<br>June 5-26</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Voyages and Travel] Churchill's Voyages 1732 - Complete in 6 Volumes.<br>$5,000 - $7,500.
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Illustrated] Alice by Salvador Dali, Signed and Limited. $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Literature] The Little Prince - Signed/Limited First French Edition, 1943; #61 of 260. $5,000 - $7,500
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: An Eclectic Collection: The Library of the Late Dr. Ivan Gilbert of Columbus.<br>June 5-26</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Literature] Gone With The Wind, 1st in DJ, May, 1936. $1,500 - $2,500
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Literature - Modern Firsts] Rare Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer, Obelisk Press Paris - 1934. $2,000 - $3,000
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [[Sporting - Fishing] Rare - Lee Sturges, Salmon Fishing New Brunswick, 1 of 50 Printed - 7 Original Etchings.<br>$4,000 - $6,000
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: An Eclectic Collection: The Library of the Late Dr. Ivan Gilbert of Columbus.<br>June 5-26</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Voyages and Travel - Maritime] Rare Ledyard Account of Cook's Last Voyage, 1783 Hartford, Howes "d".<br>$10,000 - $15,000
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Illustrated - Maxfield Parrish] Knave of Hearts, Scribner's, 1st Hardback Edition, 1925 Parrish Illustrations.<br>$750 - $1,000
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Bible - Illustrated - Cartography) Massive Dutch Bible, 1682, Contemporary Colored Maps, Working Brass Clasps. $2,500 - $3,500
    <b>Cowan’s Auctions: An Eclectic Collection: The Library of the Late Dr. Ivan Gilbert of Columbus.<br>June 5-26</b>
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Women Suffrage - Civil Rights - Autographs] A Unique Extra-Illustrated Life of Susan B. Anthony. $15,000 - $20,000
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [18th Century French Manuscript] Unpublished History of Belle-Isle-En-Mer, 1754 With Watercolor Illustration.<br>$10,000 - $15,000
    <b>Cowan’s, June 5-26:</b> [Illustrated - Children's - Movable] Wonderful 19th Century Lothar Meggendorfer Moveable Book. $750 - $1,000
  • <b>Sotheby’s London: English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of Darwin. July 11, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jul 11:</b> Austen, Jane. Autograph letter, written in the third person, to her niece Anna Austen (later Lefroy), 1812. £80,000 to 100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jul 11:</b> Smith, Adam. <i>An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations</i>. London: Printed for W. Strahan; And T. Cadell, 1776. £50,000 to 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jul 11:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life</i>. John Murray, 1859. £50,000 to 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations, including The Garrett Herman Collection: The Age of Darwin. July 11, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jul 11:</b> Dickens, Charles. Autograph draft manuscript of "Mrs Gamp with the Strolling Players,” 1847. £40,000 to 60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jul 11:</b> Shepard, E.H. Two drawings from <i>Winnie-The-Pooh</i> comprising “Why, what’s the matter?” and “He was taking the balloon out…” £40,000 to 60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jul 11:</b> Blake, William. <i>Illustrations of the Book of Job. Invented and Engraved by William Blake. Published as the Act Directs...By William Blake, 8 March 1825</i> [1826]. £20,000 to 30,000
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Online Sale of Cricket Books and Works on Paper. Now through July 5, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, now thru Jul 5:</b> Wisden (John). <i>Cricketers' Almanack for 1896</i>, original cloth, 1896. £15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, now thru Jul 5:</b> Wisden (John). <i>The Cricketers' Almanack for the year 1869</i>, excellent copy of the scarce sixth edition, 1869. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, now thru Jul 5:</b> Wisden (John). <i>Cricketers' Almanack for 1916</i>, with tribute to W.G. Grace by Lord Harris, original cloth, 1916. £5,000 to 6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Online Sale of Cricket Books and Works on Paper. Now through July 5, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, now thru Jul 5:</b> Lillywhite (Frederick) and Arthur Haygarth. <i>Cricket Scores and Biographies of Celebrated Cricketers</i>, vol. 1 - 16 [a complete run], 1862-2003. £750 to 1,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, now thru Jul 5:</b> Trumper (Victor). Postcard of Victor Trumper, signed by Trumper on image, 1905. £300 to 400
    <b>Forum Auctions, now thru Jul 5:</b> Crombie (Charles). <i>Laws of Cricket</i>, 1907; and 29 others. £150 to 200
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions