Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2015 Issue

RBH Monthly 2015 - The Year in Review

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In 2015 the RBH Monthly presented a wealth of information and news related to the world of antiquarian books.

This was the year that we changed our name from American Exchange (AE) to Rare Book Hub (RBH), a moniker that was more indicative of our real mission in the scheme of bookish things.



It was our 13th year on the internet and in that time our site has become a major destination for those in search of both current and historical auction records as well as timely information related to the antiquarian books and paper.  During 2015 we continued to offer our auction data by subscription and to publish the free RBH Monthly.



In July RBH publisher Bruce McKinney wrote “the Rare Book transaction (auction) history now contains over 5.7 million records. Some records date back as far the 19th century, but the concentration is on more recent history. This site now tracks over 150 auction houses around the world for sales in the field of books and ephemera. It captures all of the lots from these sales, and when the sale is completed, the selling price. Once the prices are received, the record, including the auction house description and estimate, is immediately added to the RBH transaction history. The result is that this database of records is up to date and keeps growing, almost everyday. By the end of the year (2015), it will likely be around six million records, based on the number of items in the field expected to be offered for sale.”  In the same month McKinney noted that in his opinion the market(s) continue to “strengthen at the top and weaken at the bottom.”



Some ingenious ways to steal

During 2015 the RBH Monthly  was filled with accounts of book theft, book fraud, book hi-jacking and items which appeared and disappeared due to carelessness and disorganization.  



Much attention focused on the case of the “Disappearing Durer and Rembrandt” prints estimated to be worth some $630,000 at the Boston Public Library. It turns out the valuable prints were not stolen but only misfiled. But the impact of the fiasco reverberated through the library world and cost the head of the department her job and the follow up investigation was critical of the library’s organization and security.  



Our editor Mike Stillman wrote countless articles on other nefarious schemes, swindles and insider thefts that spanned the globe and included collections as far away as Sweden, France and Italy. He chronicled scams such as as bribery and collusion to manipulate the market for textbooks in Los Angeles and hi-jacking of titles and descriptions by an unscrupulous Latvian site which stole and relisted as their own the descriptions of millions of titles: www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1812

 

Also noted was the theft of intellectual property in the form of copying and selling original photos without compensating the photographer. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1858



Summing it up RBH Monthly noted: “We have seen everything lately from the possible theft of a valuable print at the Boston Public Library that turned out to be a case of misfiling, to the enormous theft of valuable books from the Girolamini Library in Italy.



There was more bad news from the world of libraries in September when it turned out that a spectacular new facility in Birmingham England which had fast become a landmark for its striking architecture, did not have any funds to purchase books. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1890  That same month we ran an article detailing how libraries all over the US were morphing into shelters for the homeless who often crowd out regular patrons. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1892



On the brighter side we wrote earlier in the year that a  $1.3 million book conservation lab was planned at the University of Washington’s Suzzallo Library in Seattle. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1842



The most written about book for 2015 had to be Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman,” published by Harper Collins. It came out in July and billed as a prequel and long lost manuscript written prior to her classic and (until that date only) work “To Kill a Mockingbird.”



Watchman” sold over a million copies in its first week and set tongues wagging in every section of the English speaking world. RBH Monthly was only one of thousands of commentators writing about “Watchman.” Our article, titled “Feet of Clay” pretty much summed up our take on the situation. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1878



Though references to Amazon were infrequent at RBH, we did note the the behemoth celebrated its 20th year online and picked 2015 to open its first bricks and mortar store in Seattle. Ours were not the only eyebrows to be raised when the company which had done the most to destroy the selling of books as previously known, became the first to try to bring back the idea of an actual real (as opposed to virtual) store. Many speculated that this newest addition to the Amazon empire was not actually a desire to reinvent the bookstore but to get a leg up on convenient distribution centers in urban areas.



The stories that this writer most enjoyed writing were two dealer profiles: one about Edward Maggs, descendant of one of the oldest and best known bookstores in London www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1825 and the other describing the career William Reese of William Reese Co. in New Haven, Conn. Reese is considered a leading dealer in Americana. The noted bookseller started his career from his dorm room at Yale and continued the association to the present time. His comments stressed the importance of capital, contacts and scholarship as elements for success in the trade. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1839



If there was one article that caused a buzz among our readers it was McKinney’s piece titled Clearing the Backlog”, which ran in October and expressed the opinion that a new vehicle was needed to help sell the tremendous glut of low end books. He proposed a modified auction hosted by RBH. www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1912



The response to his article in comments from readers was largely positive. But dealers on at least one trade list serv were less enthusiastic and their reaction ran in November as “Booksellers React.” www.rarebookhub.com/articles/1916



From January to December RBH Monthly and its contributors attended book fairs, wrote up notable individual auctions, kept track of interesting catalogs from dealers in the US and abroad and generally served as a clearinghouse for news and information for collectors, dealers, libraries and those with specialized interests in the world of antiquarian paper.



Readers who are interested in the many different articles that appeared during 2015 in the Rare Book Hub Monthly can find our archives broken out by month on the far right hand side of the RBH Monthly home page, about a third of the way down.



Now that the year is nearly over it is interesting to go back and see what made news in 2015.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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…
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, <i>Le Journal / La Traite des Blanches</i>, 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>"Let Us Go Forward Together,"</i> designer unknown, 1940. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Wake Up America Day</i>, 1917. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Danté / Sim • Sala • Bim!</i>, designer unknown. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>[Zodiac]</i>, 1900. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Rick Griffin, <i>Jimi Hendrix Experience / John Mayall</i>, 1968. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Torino / Esposizione Internazionale</i>, 1911. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Robert Motherwell, <i>Julliard School / Dedication - Lincoln Center</i>, 1969. $3,000 to $4,000
  • <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>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> John Muir. <i>My First Summer in the Sierra</i>, Boston, 1911.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Ernest Hemingway. <i>For Whom the Bell Tolls</i>, New York, 1940. First edition later printing.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Upton Sinclair. <i>The Jungle</i>, New York, 1906. First edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> George Orwell. <i>Nineteen Eighty-Four</i>, 1949. First American edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Harper Lee. <i>To Kill a Mocking Bird</i>, 1960. Early printing.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Richard Wright. <i>Native Son</i>, New York, 1940. First edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Dryden, Congreve, and others. <i>Ovid’s Art of Love</i>, London, 1764. English translation of Ovid’s work.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> S. E. Hinton. <i>The Outsiders</i>, New York, 1967. First edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> J. D. Salinger. <i>The Catcher in the Rye</i>, Boston, 1951. Book club edition.
    <b>Booth & Williams: NO RESERVE Rare Book Auction, now through July 23, 7:15PM EDT</b>
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Ayn Rand. <i>Atlas Shrugged</i>, New York, 1957. Early printing.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> J. D. Salinger. <i>Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters</i> and <i>Seymour: An Introduction</i>, Boston, 1963. First [book] edition, third state.
    <b>Booth & Williams No Reserve Sale until Jul 23:</b> Tennessee Williams. <i>Sweet Bird of Youth</i>, 1959. First edition.
  • <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>

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