• <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books and Works on Paper. March 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Potter (Beatrix). The Tale of Peter Rabbit, first edition, first issue, [1901]. Part of an extensive, private Beatrix Potter collection. £15,000 - 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Dodgson (Charles Lutwidge). The Hunting of the Snark, first edition, with original printed dust-jacket, 1876.<br>£7,000 - 9,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Buckland Wright (John). Pervigilium Veneris: The Vigil of Venus, number 1 of 100 copies (Christopher Sandford's copy), Golden Cockerel Press, 1939.<br>£2,000 - 3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books and Works on Paper. March 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Kelmscott Press. Keats (John). The Poems, one of 300, orig. vellum, 8vo, Kelmscott Press, 1894. £1,800 - 2,200
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Greenhill (Elizabeth).- Morison (Stanley) and Kenneth Day. The Typographic Book, 1450-1935, bound in dark green goatskin by Elizabeth Greenhill, 1963. £6,000 - 8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Fitzgerald (F. Scott). The Great Gatsby, first edition, first state dust-jacket, New York, 1925. £25,000 - 35,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books and Works on Paper. March 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Dionysius, <i>Halicarnassensis</i>. Antiquitates Romanae, Editio princeps, Treviso, Bernardinus Celerius, 24 or 25 February, 1480. £4,000 - 6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Canon Law. [Laurentius Puldericus. Breviarum decreti], manuscript in Latin, on paper, [?Germany], [c. 1450].<br>£5,000 - 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Swimming. Percey (William) The Compleat Swimmer: or, the Art of Swimming, first and only edition, by J.C. for Henry Fletcher, 1658. £5,000 - 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books and Works on Paper. March 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Binding with silverwork by Anthony Nelme. The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New: : newly translated out of the original tongues, Oxford, John Baskett, 1716. £10,000 - 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> George IV's copy. Nash (John, architect). The Royal Pavilion at Brighton, one of 10 copies, 1826. £8,000 - 10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Mar. 30:</b> Blake (William, 1757-1827). "With Dreams upon my bed thou scarest me & affrightest me with Visions", 1825. £700 - 1,000
  • <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>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
  • <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> THE PAPERS OF BREVET MAJOR GENERAL JOHN GROSS BARNARD (1815-1882), Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac. Estimate: $75,000-100,000
    <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
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> WILLIAM FADEN, A Plan of New York Island, with part of Long Island, Staten Island & East New Jersey. London: 1776. Estimate: $5,000-8,000
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> MAX BEERBOHM, Lord Curzon delivering an oration. Original drawing with collage. London, 1912. Est: $2,000-3,000
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> AMERICAN REVOLUTION, Recueil des Loix Constitutives des Colonies Angloises. A Philadelphie, et se vend a Paris: Cellot & Jombert, 1778. First collected edition in French. Estimate: $500-800
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN, Confederate General Joseph Johnston's copy of Sherman's General Orders No. 65 announcing the final agreement of Surrender, 27 April 1865. Est: $4,000-6,000
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> JOHN KEATS, Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of Saint Agnes and Other Poems. London: Taylor and Hessey, 1820. First edition of Keats’s third book.. Estimate: $5,000-7,000
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> M. T. Cicero's Cato Major, or his discourse of Old-age: With Explanatory Notes. Philadelphia: Benjamin Franklin, 1744. Est: $5,000-8,000
    <b>Doyle, Apr. 26:</b> WINSTON S CHURCHILL, History of the English Speaking Peoples. London: Cassell, 1956-58. First editions. Est: $1,500-2,500

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2016 Issue

Tom Lecky: the next stage

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Tom Lecky, consultant to Christie's, and proprietor of Riverrun Books & Manuscripts

Tom Lecky – until recently Department Head, Books & Manuscripts at Christie’s New York – has moved on, if not far, to establish himself in business. This summer he assumed control of Riverrun Books & Manuscripts in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, a firm that, since 1978, has specialized in fine material from all periods. He works both as a bookseller and appraiser, and maintains a close relationship with Christie’s as a consultant. His career has been meteoric.

 

His resume, beyond his 17 years at Christie’s, includes four and a half years as Head of Books and Prints at William Doyle Galleries, now Doyle New York, as well as a master’s degree from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree from Columbia.  At 44 years old, he enters this next phase of his career.

 

I recently asked Tom for his perspective on the rare book field.

 

Books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera are all part of the same game but dealers tend to specialize in one or two categories.  Will you maintain the focus on books and manuscripts?

 

Diversity has always driven me further in this field. I never sought to pigeonhole myself in a particular area, or narrow focus. I suppose my tastes and interests are too eclectic – I have always considered myself a generalist (and I have been fortunate to handle outstanding material in virtually every category imaginable). In books and manuscripts – especially in the auction world – one can’t afford to be too specialized. You may have just sent a catalog of medical books to the printer, and the next phone call offers a collection of atlases. Or children’s books. Or incunables. It’s natural to gravitate to certain areas that are of greater interest – for me those are American literature, historical Americana, travel, art, science and technology – but the diversity keeps me going everyday. I’ve never met a good book I haven’t liked.

 

At Christie’s you mastered the high end.  Do you expect to stay in that realm? If so, how will that fit with the inventory you acquired? For more than a generation dealers have been able to sell their best examples while increasingly struggling to sell the more common collectibles. What’s your view?

 

Christie’s is my auction home, and continuing there as a consultant means that I maintain a role at the highest level of the market. Riverrun gives me access to the entire breadth of the market. I became interested in book collecting as a teenager trying to read Black Mountain School poets. Their books were printed in one edition only, and although they were affordable ($10-50 at the time), they were hard to track down. I understand the desire to seek books at every level.  A great copy of a $10 book can be as rewarding as a great copy of a $10 million book. I am lucky that my career has allowed me to handle many examples at both ends of that spectrum!

 

I’m biased, but I believe that books represent the greatest technological invention in human history – allowing the spread of knowledge, freedom, and democracy. It was their democratic purpose that first excited me. Combine that with their ability to change the world, influence thought, and – not of minor importance – to be beautiful and you understand what motivates me to keep moving forward.

 

 

Your principal experience is on the auction side and in acquiring Riverrun you are moving over to the dealer side. Auctions have been on a tear while dealers have been finding the going tougher. Your view?

 

I want a strong market for books, regardless of the venue. The book market is centuries old, and will continue for many more. Certain books are more suited to auction, others to private sale, and many more to being part of the immense stocks available through independent dealers. Lamenting a past that is no more does not help the booksellers’ cause. My focus is on what I am doing today, and in the future, to buy, sell, and promote books.

 

The rare book world is undergoing systemic change. Over the past ten years the majority of shops have closed and their inventories posted on line. In taking over an existing firm you’ve come down with two feet on the shop side. What does the future look like to you?

 

The majority of Riverrun’s sales come through the Internet, and there are so many online venues available to booksellers. I take advantage of all of them. Daily sales of modest material are the foundation of the business. The pre-existing inventory had over 13,000 items already listed and I’ve added 500 since taking over two months ago. One has to keep building. The store has a steady stream of people coming to buy and sell books, so a portion of the inventory turns over quickly.

 

The invention of the book led to the invention of the Internet. They are entwined technological leaps-forward. I hear a lot of talk about how “people don’t read anymore.” It is not true. I believe people read as much if not more than ever, just not in the same way. They may read digital texts more than books, but they are reading. And reading somehow always leads to more reading. And reading always leads to books. People still collect candlesticks and Tiffany lamps even though residential electricity and LEDs are far more efficient and practical. I think people, the market, the world, and a collector’s urges are far too complicated to define.

 

I grew up in the Adirondack region of Upstate New York. It was largely rural and isolated, and in the pre-Internet days it was hard to satisfy a hunger to read unusual books or listen to obscure music, both of which are my life-long passions. There was one used bookstore that had a lot of tired stock. An occasional gem would walk in. I learned the thrill of the hunt. But I also learned how limiting the world could be. It is easy for those of us in urban areas to take for granted the diversity of everything available. I moved to it, but the Internet has allowed us to move things and ideas to everyone. At 38 I released my first album. How? I met a like-minded musician online who lived in Wales and he inspired me to keep recording. He released that album on his label. I met more people, and released three more albums. Two years later I performed with him at Café Oto in London, and I count him as one of my best friends. Having left a limited world, I find this kind of access to real-life change and contact immensely rewarding. This relates to Riverrun because it is about keeping books available, to all, and perpetuating their spread through the market.

 

For years people talked about the death of the music industry in the wake of the Internet revolution. Yes, part of it died, or was terminally wounded: the corporate behemoth part.  Yet we have more access to more music now than at any time in human history. And what is the area of greatest growth in physical sales? Vinyl LPs. Record plants were over-booked with production in the last few years, encouraging more plants to be built. For me, that indicates just how important the physical object is to some people. The LP demands attention, care, and tending to deliver its content. It is intimate, and personal. Sounds a lot like a book to me.

 

The number of auction lots has been increasing while realizations in the rooms for the majority of items offered in the print field have been declining.  And dealers generally accept David Lilburne’s recent characterization of the rare book business over the past five years as “working harder to make less.” I think there are some strong reasons to be optimistic but the interregnum will be difficult. You’ve taken over a shop so I assume you too are optimistic. Your perspective?

 

In my first two months at Riverrun I have shipped books to over 30 different countries. There are people all over the world, at every moment, looking for books. Some of these books are well known, and a very surprising number of them are very obscure. They are of modest value, generally niche scholarly subjects, or by lesser-known literary authors – the kind that drew me into book collecting when I was young. I have been coming to Riverrun at intervals for fifteen years and have seen the flow of material. With 30,000 books in stock, there is usually something here that will appeal to someone, at some level. Buying a pre-existing inventory of this size, scope, quality and condition provided an attractive opportunity, as opposed to founding “Thomas Lecky, bookseller” and trying to build a stock one book at a time. I have so much on hand already that I can be selective and thoughtful with what I add. The shop offers a place for people to come talk, look at, sell, and purchase books. But the marketplace that supports the business is in 24 time zones.

 

The rare book business needs to sell itself anew to collectors. Shops long provided the doors through which fledgling collectors first encountered dealers and their stock.  You’ll potentially be providing a local presence. Do you have plans to make this effective?

 

Absolutely. Hastings is an artistic, intellectual, and literary town. Five Nobel Laureates have lived here. Jasper Cropsey’s studio was here (and is open to the public). Jacques Lipschitz’s studio is visible while walking along the Old Aqueduct Trail. Writers and thinkers as diverse as Martin Gardner, Kenneth B. Clark, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Lewis Hine, and Margaret Sanger all called Hastings home. The observatory where Henry Draper took the first photographs of the moon can be visited at the park that bears his name. And not one, but two, actors from The Wizard of Oz lived here: Billie Burke and the Wizard himself, Frank Morgan.

 

Frank Scioscia, who founded Riverrun, knew many authors through his other career as a sales executive for Harper & Row. He held readings and discussions at the shop, and I plan to carry on that tradition. In fact, I am already planning our first talk for October.

 

Do you plan to join trade organizations and, if so, do shows?

 

Joining the ABAA/ILAB is an important goal. I have made a lot of friends in the trade over the past 25 years, and I hope to join them as a colleague. As I grow into things I may find that shows are a valuable component of my outreach, but I don’t have any immediate plans.

 

I believe we are entering a market bottom that, by bits and starts, should take hold over the next three years.  The rare book business is actually more than a dozen collecting categories and while some have barely slowed others seem destined for life-support. How do you see this and how will you adapt? 

 

I’m reminded of the well-worn adage, “a tool is only as good as the person using it.” Booksellers are only as good as the books they bring to market, how they bring them, and with whom they share them. I see myself in three tiers: the highest-end of the auction market with Christie’s; working directly with private collectors seeking specific things in specific fields; and fulfilling orders to a vast and immeasurable world of book buyers – not collectors per se – who buy books for the information they contain. I feel I have a good grasp and reputation in that first tier. My job is to develop my role in the second, and continue to buy interesting, diverse and plentiful stock to fulfill the needs of the third. Again, books from $10 to $10 million.

 

What does the future overall look like to you? Where do you see strengths and weaknesses? What needs to happen?

 

I am a forward-looking person and have always liked to solve problems. In the auction world, we work with vast amounts of material in a defined time-span. Since we are agents for the owner, there is a great sense of responsibility, but also pride in how we present things to market. I see myself in the private market in a similar way, only now I represent myself. I believe in the field that has made my career. And I am proud to be one more name in a list of names that goes back centuries in the book trade. I will represent that lineage the best that I can:  no matter what book I am discussing nor to whom I am speaking.  Books are not for the elite, they are for everyone.

 

Our strength as booksellers is our memory. Luckily we can build more of it everyday. Our weakness is that we can lose sight of the forest when we fall too in love with a tree. I guess I am more of a park ranger than an arborist. We need to keep at it, haul heavy boxes from one place to another, unpack them, and keep bringing books in front of people whether to their hands or their screens. And, of course, we need to occasionally prune and put out any fires.

 

Tom Lecky. Proprietor

 

Riverrun Books & Manuscripts

12 Washington Avenue

Hastings-on-Hudson, New York 10706

 

Open by appointment

 

(914) 216-1336

Email:  info@riverrunbookshop.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Auction Pierre Bergé & associés in association with Sotheby’s: Important Books and Manuscripts from the Library of Jean A. Bonna from the 15th to the 20th Century. Sale on April 26, 2017. Exhibition in London March 28-30</b>
    <b>Pierre Bergé & Associés, Apr. 26:</b> Galileo, <i>Discorsi e Dimostrazioni matematiche.</i> Leyde, Elzevier, 1638. Original edition: only known copy of the first state. €700,000 – 900,000
    <b>Pierre Bergé & Associés, Apr. 26:</b> Fables illustrated by Benjamin Rabier. Paris, Tallandier, without date [ca. 1910]. Superb binding doubled in vellum decorated with painted and mosaic decors by André Mare illustrating four fables. €10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Pierre Bergé & Associés, Apr. 26:</b> Gustave Flaubert, draft for the preface of the <i>Memoir for the defense of Madame Bovary</i>, 15-30 January 1857. Exceptiona signed autograph manuscript. €40,000 – 60,000
    <b>Auction Pierre Bergé & associés in association with Sotheby’s: Important Books and Manuscripts from the Library of Jean A. Bonna from the 15th to the 20th Century. Sale on April 26, 2017. Exhibition in London March 28-30</b>
    <b>Pierre Bergé & Associés, Apr. 26:</b> Boccace, <i>The Book of Praise and the Virtue of the Noble and Cleric Ladies.</i> Verard, 1493. First edition of the French version attributed to Laurent de Premierfait. €40,000 – 60,000
    <b>Pierre Bergé & Associés, Apr. 26:</b> Exceptional set of 15 original bindings by Jean de Gonet, on rare editions illustrated by Picasso, Matisse, Miro or original editions of Bataille or Radiguet.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Malcolm X, typed manuscripts for the <i>LA Herald Dispatch</i> column "God's Angry Men," 1957.<br>$200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Frederick Douglass, Autograph Letter Signed to George Alfred Townsend, Washington, 1880.<br>$40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Carte-de-visite album featuring a previously unrecorded image of Harriet Tubman, 1860s.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Collection of documents from the Montgomery Improvement Association, Alabama, 1955-63. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Martin Luther King, Jr., working draft of the "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Alabama, 1963. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> <i>Benjamin Bannaker's Almanac</i> for 1795, Baltimore. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30: Printed & Manuscript African Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Collection of 41 letters addressed to Rebecca Primus, 1854-72.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Abby Fisher, <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking</i>, first edition, San Francisco, 1881.<br>$10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Victor H. Green, <i>The Negro Motorist Green-Book for 1941</i>, New York, 1940. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar. 30:</b> Toni Morrison, <i>The Bluest Eye, </i>reviewer's copy, New York, 1971. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <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

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