• <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 Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man.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>Consignments now invited<br>History of Science & Technology<br>December 12th, 2017</b>
    NEWTON, ISAAC. <i>Opticks</i>. London, 1704. Presentation copy to Edmund Halley. Sold for $1,330,000
    Apple Computer Contract & Dissolution of Contract, signed by Jobs, Wozniak, & Wayne. Sold for $1,594,500
    DARWIN, CHARLES. Autograph Manuscript page from the manuscript of <i>On the Origin of Species</i>. Sold for $250,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Cook in Tahiti. [Playbill]. [Germany, c.1840.] $3,000 - $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Roberts' Sketches in Egypt and Nubia. London, 1846-9. $20,000 - $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Breydenbach. Peregrinatio in terram sanctam. Mainz, 1486. $100,000 - $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Dürer. Underweysung der messung [and two more]. Nuremberg, 1525-8. $150,000 - $200,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Whitman. Autograph Manuscript [in] The Complete Writings. One of 32 sets. $8,000 - $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Columbus. De Insulis nuper in mari Indico repertis. Basel, 1494. $700,000 - $1,000,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> The Dr. Hendon M. Harris Jr. Korean Atlas Collection. [Korea; c.1700 to c.1890.] $35,000 - $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 26:</b> Aa, Pieter van der. Naaukeurige versameling der gedenk-waardigste zee en land-reysen. Leyden, 1706-8. $8000 - $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Russian Kholod 5D67 HFL Rocket Engine. $25,000 - $40,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Neil Armstrong Apollo Era Training Glove. $8,000 - $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Large Lunar Near Side Chart, Signed by 20th Century Surface Explorers. $20,000 - $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 27:</b> Annotated Photo Album Detailing Alexander Graham Bell's Experiments with Tetrahedral Kites. $50,000 - $80,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2015 Issue

Collecting these days: my own experience

Dac2f96d-c234-4c94-8169-6b5a167c0843

Two thousand fifteen seems a different kind of year in the rare book business.  The long-term trend toward better and unique copies continues to intensify both in the auction rooms and in dealer catalogues.  This suggests a thinner, and inevitably weaker market for very good if not absolutely spectacular copies – the very thing that collectors and dealers most have.  This is disappointing but not crushing.  For the collector who has yet to buy, it simply means that auction realizations may go lower and in time dealer asking prices follow. The auction outcomes are the bright spot because they confirm liquidity, a necessary feature in a healthy market.  The public market, as reflected by auction outcomes, is today huge.  This means that for those who buy there are also well-defined exits.

 

At the same time the quality of material continues to improve.  Both dealers and auction houses, confronted by increasingly selective buyers, are focusing on the best material while bringing asking prices and estimates on good to very good material down to maintain cash and transaction flow.  Many, and I count myself among them, believe the current market is the best we have seen in decades.  It’s efficient, simply reflecting market interest.  As a buyer this is all that you can ask.

 

On the collecting side I continue to pursue interesting material, and am agnostic to the source.  In past years eBay has been a steady source of appealing if generally inexpensive material but this past year not so much.   I’m not sure where such material now shows up but it’s not in the eBay searches.  Their decision to emphasize static listings over auctions is turning them into another Abebooks, in my opinion a dumb idea.  Abe is already doing a very good job.

 

My single most important purchase this year was from a retiring dealer from whom I bought the O’Shaughnessy Archive of Auction Catalogues issued during the period 1865 to 1940.  Such material is all but impossible to find as a substantially complete run.  A dealer bought these records at a public warehouse sale in New Jersey in 1948 and they have remained untouched since.  They cover twenty houses and, at a guess, 2.5 million auction records that will, over the next year or so, bring the RBH Transaction Database well past eight million records.   My goal has always been to have a complete auction record in the RBH/AE database.  With this purchase and a full year of work we’ll make significant progress.

 

I have also bought at auction.  At the Carlsen Gallery near Albany, on a Sunday in early April, I bid by phone on a wonderful group of prints, most of which are by Currier and Ives.  Currier is out of fashion today and the number of unduplicated items that come up is limited.  At this sale a very complete set of Hudson Valley and Adirondack prints was offered.  I bought about 30 prints, the cost all in about $10,000.

 

Over the summer I bid at JMW Auctions in Kingston, New York.  The lots are sometimes not well documented and the realized prices difficult to obtain.  Consequently we don’t cover their sales.  But I bid there myself and bought both books and paintings there this year.  The paintings are special.  Altogether I spent about $9,000.

 

 

On November 11th at Bonham's London I purchased an archive of material from Hodgson & Co. Book Auctioneers.  This English auction house was a major player in the books and manuscript auction trade from the later 19th into the mid 20th century.

 

Lot 29

 

HODGSON & CO. BOOK AUCTIONEERS An extensive archive of business papers, printed matter, photographs and correspondence relating to the book auctioneering firm of Hodgson & Co. (1807-1981), largely dating from the period after the firm's move to Chancery Lane in 1863 comprising; a group of over 100 items of correspondence with vendors and booksellers such as Lord Wardington, The Earl of Halifax, Captain Massingberd of Ormsby Hall, Earl Beauchamp of Madresfield Court, Arthur Symonds, Leonard Huxley, EV Lucas, Sir John Lubbock, Hatchards, A.P. Watt & Son, Henry Sotheran, Quaritch, Maggs & Co. etc., documents concerning the discovery and sale in 1948 of a volume of nine Shakespeare Quartos dating from 1619, a number of letters and documents concerned with possible suspension of book auctions during the First World War (signed by Chatto, Maggs, Karslake and others, with Quaritch removing his signature on the grounds that auctioneers know their business best, and Hodgson's reply giving reasons to continue with sales), various financial papers including a sales book of 1901-8, list of monies owed by booksellers, an auctioneer's folder with 'no bid' list attached, lists of clients and their collections, lists of 'books viewed', typed instructions for cataloguing and work sheets, examples of printed stationery and printing blocks, manuscript plans and documents relating to the premises at Chancery Lane, a series of photographs showing the staff, the building, a sale in progress (with inscription "Reynolds in the pound, J.E.H. Thornton & Milward") and the centenary dinner of 1907, commemorative publications and menus produced for said centenary celebrations, some 50 sale catalogues, many annotated, dating from 1861 to 1981 (the majority 1930-60 but including some noteable sales such as the Strawberry Hill Press collection, 1902, Four Folio Shakespeares, 1948, and Early Books on Surgery and Medicine from Sion College, 1938), receipts and general household accounts, together with various legal and personal papers relating to the family, various sizes and bindings etc., 1860's to 1980's

 

The firm was in business between 1807 and 1967 and then absorbed by Sotheby’s.  The lot was estimated 1,000 to 1,500 British pounds and brought 8,125 all in.  Robert Frew, the London antiquarian, represented me.

 

Book auction history is a subject unto itself.  The houses, the characters and circumstances seen through the prism of time yield a stunning perspective.  In time, some, perhaps most of this lot will become searchable on RBH.

 

At another sale Bill Reese represented me at a recent Doyle New York auction to purchase lot 30 a Miscellany of New York Assembly and Senate Journals, 1785-1800:

 

[NEW YORK - FEDERAL] Miscellany of Assembly and Senate Journals, 1785-1800, 11 volumes all but two in 20th century cloth (one in worn half leather and boxed, one in leather backed boards). Folio printings, sizes vary, largest 14 x 8 1/2 inches (36 x 22 cm). The Assembly Journals include those for the years 1785, 1792, 1795, 1796 and 1799, printed by Francis Childs, Childs & Swain, Samuel Loudon, and Loring Andrews; The Senate Journals, each with separate title pages, includes those for the years 1785-92 (bound together), 1792, 1794, 1798, 1800, and an 1814 volume of indexes for the years 1777-1795, each variously printed in New York, Albany, Poughkeepsie, etc. The entirety with stamps and ink markings to titles and intermittently within, generally clean but with some stains, foxing, etc., the whole not fully collated and sold as is.   Eleven volumes.

 

The lot was estimated $200 to $300 and brought $3,438.

 

I purchased two related lots at Doyle earlier this year.  The bindings, such as they are, will now be reworked to turn these miscellaneous volumes into a somewhat complete set.  All such items are rare if not necessarily desired.  Deciding how to rebind and box them will be next year’s challenge.  However the rebinding works these three Doyle New York purchases will turn out to be a great prize.  They are beyond rare.

 

From dealers I bought a large group of Hudson Valley ephemera.   Peter Luke of New Baltimore, New York offers me archive-sized lots every year or so.   I also recently bought from Will Monie [ABAA].  I learned of one item and then more thoroughly searched his inventory and found a dozen more.  Will is very strong on New York State and that is my primary collecting interest.

 

Also as I have for years, I bought this year twice more from a retired Albany dealer.  He is letting go of his collection book by book and can count on me to be interested.

 

My experience is anecdotal but the market in what interests me seems to be solid if not particularly pricey while the opportunities are frequent and appealing.

 

For collectors this is a remarkable moment.


Posted On: 2015-12-20 19:51
User Name: myworthybooks

Very nicely written.

Dan Yardeni


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Broadside proclaiming the end of the Revolutionary War, NH, 1783. $20,000 to $30,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Manuscript medical journal kept by physicians aboard Continental Navy vessels, 1777-88. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Manuscript notes on sermons heard at Boston's First Church & Old South Church, 1684-1703. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Missionary archive of Samuel W. and Gideon H. Pond, MN, 1833-93. $30,000 to $40,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Captain's journal of a mutinous whaling journey, South Pacific, 1839-46. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> <i>McClees' Gallery of Photographic Portraits ... of the Thirty-Fifth Congress</i>,Washington, 1859. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Juan de Ugarte, manuscript report on first 16 months of California missions, Mexico, 1699. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Cyanotype albums depicting the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge, New York City, 1897-1903. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Unrecorded broadside from occupied New York, 1778. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> <i>The Honolulu Merchants' Looking-Glass</i>, first edition, San Francisco, 1862. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> Honorius Philoponus, <i>Nova Typis Transacta Navigatio</i>, first edition, Linz, 1621. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28:</b> The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cook (Captain James).- Webber (John) and Marie Catherina Prestel. Four views in the South Seas [bound with] <i>Atlas to accompany Captain James Cook's account of his voyages...</i> £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Knight (Joseph). <i>On the cultivation of the plants belonging to the natural order of Proteeae</i>, 1809. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> India & China.- Sonnerat (Pierre). <i>Voyage aux Indes Orientales et a la Chine, fait par ordre du roi, depuis 1774 jusqu'en 1781</i>. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mongolia.- Pallas (Peter Simon). <i>Sammlungen Historischer Nachrichten uber die Mongolischen Volkerschaften.</i> £15,000 to £20,000 
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> America.- Warre (Henry). <i>Sketches in North America</i>, 1848. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Atlases.- <i>English Pilot (The). The Fourth Book. Describing The West-Indian Navigation, from Hudson's Bay to the River Amazones...</i> £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greece.- Lear (Edward). <i>Views of the Seven Ionian Isles</i>, signed presentation copy from the author to Evelyn Baring, 1863. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Lear (Edward).- [Gray (John Edward)]. <i>Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall</i>, 1846. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Flamsteed (John). <i>Historiae Coelestis</i>, first edition,1712. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Flamsteed (John). <i>Atlas Coelestis</i>, 1781. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Conjuring Posters.- The Steens, American Mystifiers: Originators of Silent Transmission. broadside poster, [probably 1890-1900]. £300 to £500
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Tyndale's Bible.- Bible, English. The newe Testament, Richard Jugge, 1552; sold not subject to return. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cook (Captain James).- Webber (John) and Marie Catherina Prestel. Four views in the South Seas [bound with] <i>Atlas to accompany Captain James Cook's account of his voyages to the Pacific Ocean in the years 1776-1780.</i>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Knight (Joseph). <i>On the cultivation of the plants belonging to the natural order of Proteeae</i>, 1809. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> India & China.- Sonnerat (Pierre). <i>Voyage aux Indes Orientales et a la Chine, fait par ordre du roi, depuis 1774 jusqu'en 1781</i>. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mongolia.- Pallas (Peter Simon). <i>Sammlungen Historischer Nachrichten uber die Mongolischen Volkerschaften.</i> £15,000 to £20,000 
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> America.- Warre (Henry). <i>Sketches in North America</i>, 1848. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Atlases.- <i>English Pilot (The). The Fourth Book. Describing The West-Indian Navigation, from Hudson's Bay to the River Amazones...</i> £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greece.- Lear (Edward). <i>Views of the Seven Ionian Isles</i>, signed presentation copy from the author to Evelyn Baring, 1863. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Lear (Edward).- [Gray (John Edward)]. <i>Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall</i>, 1846. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Flamsteed (John). <i>Historiae Coelestis</i>, first edition,1712. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Flamsteed (John). <i>Atlas Coelestis</i>, 1781. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Conjuring Posters.- The Steens, American Mystifiers: Originators of Silent Transmission. broadside poster, [probably 1890-1900]. £300 to £500
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Tyndale's Bible.- Bible, English. The newe Testament, Richard Jugge, 1552; sold not subject to return. £10,000 to £15,000
  • <b>Sotheby’s: The Library of John & Suzanne Bonham. 26 September in London. Viewing 22-25 September</b>
    Sotheby’s London, Sep. 26:</b> Churchill, Winston S. Two Typed Letters Signed, regarding the British North Greenland Expedition (1952-54). £3,000 to £4,000
    Sotheby’s London, Sep. 26:</b> Bernatz, Johann Martin. <i> Scenes in Ethiopia</i>. London: F.G. Moon, 1852. First edition. £6,000 to £8,000
    Sotheby’s London, Sep. 26:</b> Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates. Collection comprising (among other things): documents and pamphlets. £1,500 to £1,800
    <b>Sotheby’s: The Library of John & Suzanne Bonham. 26 September in London. Viewing 22-25 September</b>
    Sotheby’s London, Sep. 26:</b> Darwin, Charles, and Philip Parker King, and Robert FitzRoy. <i> Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of His Majesty's Ships Adventure and Beagle Between the Years 1826 and 1836…</i> £15,000 to £20,000
    Sotheby’s London, Sep. 26:</b> Spratt, Thomas A.B., and Edward Forbes. <i>Travels in Lycia, Milyas, and the Cibyratis</i>. London: John Van Voorst, 1847. £800 to £1,200
    Sotheby’s London, Sep. 26:</b> Richardson, John. <i>Arctic Searching Expedition: A Journal of a Boat-Voyage Through Rupert's Land and the Arctic Sea, In Search of Sir John Franklin</i>. £6,000 to £8,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions