• <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>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)
  • <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>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Ackermann, Rudolph—Uwins, Thomas. A collection of 240 drawings for Rudolph Ackermann's <i>Repository of Arts</i> magazine, 1809-1828. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Willem Janszoon, and Joan. <i>Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Sive Atlas Novus in Quo Tabulae et Descriptiones Omnium Regionum.</i> 1640-1654. £100,000 – 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Mercator, Gerard and Jodocus Hondius. <i>L’Atlas ou Méditations Cosmographiques de la Fabrique du Monde et Figure Diceluy.</i> 1613. £60,000 – 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Speed, John. <i>The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, Presenting an Exact Geography of the Kingdom of England, Scotland, Ireland and the Isles Adjoyning...</i> £100,000 – 150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Wit, Frederick De. [General Atlas], With The Engraved Title For Atlas Maior. Amsterdam, [C.1688-1696]. £50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Kuntz, Joh. Rudolph. <i>[Abbildungen Königlich Württembergischer Gestütts-Pferde von Orientalischen Racen.</I> Stuttgart: Ebner 1823–1824]. £30,000 – 40,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Lawrence, T.E. Ivory Silk Thawb, Or Under-Robe, Presented by Lawrence of Arabia to a family friend. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Joan. <i>Archipelagus Orientalis Sive Asiaticus</i>. Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, [1659]. £200,000 – 250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Blaeu, Joan. <i>Asiae Descriptio Novissima</i>. Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, [1659]. £60,000 – 80,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London: Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History. 9 May 2017. Viewing 5 – 8 May.</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Japanese bird paintings—(Rinchô Zu). A Pair Of Painted Scrolls of Birds. [Japan, Late 18th Or Early 19th Century]. £25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Huang, Qianren. Da Qing Wannian Yitong Tianxia Quantu [Complete Map of the Whole Unified Country of the Great Qing]. [1803]. £80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s London, 9 May:</b> Sôkaku or Ryôsei Jôkei. Da Ming Sheng Tu, [Map of (China Under) The Great Ming Dynasty]. (1691 Or 1711). £80,000 – 120,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2017 Issue

The “Old” LIFE: Art, Politics & Humor - What a Difference a Century Makes

Ddb71e17-92b4-4ed5-9710-4fc0a34f85be

Teddy Roosevelt rides his ostrich.

Most dealers and collectors are well aware of the American magazine LIFE, founded by Henry Luce in 1936. Luce’s LIFE became a long running showcase for photo journalism. But few are familiar with the other LIFE, the “old” LIFE, the New York City humor magazine that had an equally interesting niche in the late 19th and early 20th century.

 

The “old” LIFE (1883-1936) specialized in gentle and not so gentle satire and featured a wide array of artists and illustrators, many of whom became household names. Those whose work appeared on its cover and pages included James Montgomery Flagg, Charles Dana Gibson, C(larence) Coles Phillips, Rea Irvin, Balfour Ker, Cory Kilvert, Orson Lowell, Power O’Malley, and many many more - all with a light touch and a steady hand. In later years Norman Rockwell was a regular contributor. His first cover was published in May 1917 and other Rockwell paintings were featured on LIFE’s cover 28 times between then and 1924.

 

Though the old LIFE had a long run it’s best years in my opinion were roughly late 1908 to early 1912, coinciding with the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and overlapping into William Howard Taft. These were big men, big money, big deals and they were big times too. In a way it’s a period that almost directly imitates our own - with larger than life “Capitalism” front and center, income inequality, radical new ideas in the social order (like votes for women), waves of immigration and dramatic new technology including the airplane and the automobile, turning all established norms upside down.

 

LIFE is collectible both as complete issues of the magazine and/or as individual pieces (such as covers, centerfolds and ads) appearing in the periodical. Though the magazine started out as a black and white publication by 1908 every issue had a color cover, a double page centerfold spread in black and white which often focused on the perceived ironies of the day - be they the expanding empire of Guggenheim in Alaska, the excess of the privileged class, or the newfangled inventions spooking the livestock. Most issues had a full color ad on the back cover, often for the latest in automotive gear including electric cars. The inside pages contained many more cartoons as well as other ads especially for long vanished cars manufactured in fast growing industrial towns like Detroit, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Toledo.

 

In its editorial pages LIFE had cartoons on virtually every page. Some of LIFE’s biggest and best ones were in the center. These included clever line art by names like Harry Grant Dart, a whiz at predicting what fantastical form aviation might soon take. Another frequent contributor was Harrison Cady (the illustrator associated with Thornton Burgess) whose intricate drawings for LIFE were both complex and amusing. These two artists and other like them spared the feeling of no one: man, woman, bug or beast.

 

Targets for humor range from the unseemly habits of the recently rich (one centerfold cartoon showing a bevy of ugly damsels each with a purse and dollar signs over her head), another makes fun of presidential excess showing the jungle’s version of TR - a scene filled with animals running from the great White Hunter. There was an unlimited supply of derision for suffrage. From social commentary to sentimental valentines the centerfolds includes them all: pretty Gibson girls, young love, college days, fat people being readied for the cannibal’s pot, rich people looking ridiculous as they crash their airplanes and cars, poor people struggling to get by as the great ball labeled “greed” mows them down.

 

Among themes that interest today’s collector that show up quite a bit in these early issues of LIFE are the rights of women, anti-vivisection, how people of color are portrayed and attitudes towards Jews and immigrants.

 

When it came to votes for women the official view at LIFE was “No way.” To make sure the reader was perfectly clear on their point of view the magazine went as far as to sponsor a contest on “Why I would Not Marry a Suffragette” and offered a prize of $300 (a very respectable sum for the day) for the best contributions. They not only solicited entries but published the submissions as a regular feature. In the pages of LIFE women who favored the vote are depicted as stout, grumpy, unappealing, misguided and undesirable. As a genre these anti-women's rights cartoons were well drawn, funny (if you weren’t a woman) and uniformly took the position that votes for women was one one of the silliest ideas ever to come down the pike.

 

Though they never took it seriously, they gave it a lot of space both in pictures and words, and even devoted special issues and any number special sections devoted to predictions of what would become of emasculated “husbands” should women ever move up a notch in the food chain.

 

Other topics LIFE did well were explicit and moving, the anti-vivisection drawings showing evil scientists just about to slice up the family dog. They were early with drawings that put forward the then new idea of conservation of public land and preserving open space. Though few of LIFE cartoons were overtly “racist,” race does play a role in many of the images they published. There are lots of cartoons, illustrations and ads featuring people of color, mainly as maids, porters, chauffeurs and other service occupations.

 

Both immigration and antisemitism make frequent appearances. The tilt against immigrants is palpable, especially against Italians who are depicted as dark and thieving and prone to leave the Black Hand in their wake. Jews are drawn marching in formation all with enormous noses, and also frequently depicted as a nasty bunch whose long reach stretched out to control the New York theaters.

 

The hot technology a hundred years ago was not the iPhone or the Android tablet, it was the automobile and the airplane. LIFE was one of the first magazines to really cater to the fantasies of the newly rich for speed, mobility and elegance. Early on the magazine gave the new inventions superior color printing, top placement, great typography, impressive copy, vivid art and photos that extol a life of fast cars, ease, luxury and the willingness to drop a bundle on the latest and the greatest automotive technology.

 

LIFE also ran the line counts on the various models so it was possible not only to see what was being advertised but also how frequently. Among the large automotive ads are both color and black and white for Pierce Arrow, Locomobile, REO, Willys, Olds, Studebaker, Packard cars and trucks, Marmon, Baker Electric and indeed electric vehicles of all kinds, not to mention tires, accessories including horns and speedometers.

 

What pages LIFE did not fill with snappy patter, cartoons, jibes at women, and car ads they saved to extol the virtues of guns (You should have one, a small one if you’re a lady), breakfast cereal, soap (Ponds, Mennen, Ivory), nice clothes from Brooks Brothers and rather awkward looking garters for your socks, not to mention Coca Cola, Wrigley’s gum and stiffer brew in the form of beer and spirits.

 

Reading "old" LIFE in the age of Trump is to realize we’ve already been down this road at least once before and lived to tell about. It’s all there from the 1% to micro-aggressions played out in an earlier incarnation that’s now more than a century old.

 

If you keep an eye out for the “old” LIFE watch for names that will appear again in a larger or different context. Two that come to mind are Walt Kuhn, an American cartoonist and artist who drew for LIFE in its early years and went on in 1913 to be one of the principal organizers of the Armory Show. He was a painter of some note by the time the 20s rolled around. Another fine artist, Edward Borein, best known for his scenes of life in the American West, appeared from time to time as the illustrator for Pierce Arrow car ads.

 

I don’t really see a lot of issues of LIFE being offered as complete magazines or as bound volumes. What I do see is individual pages or work by individual artists. Particularly popular are the fade-away girls of C. Coles Phillips and the iconic women of Charles Dana Gibson as well as and other images by the popular artists of the day like James Montgomery Flagg.

 

When it comes to recent selling prices they seem to range from about $20 for a nice centerfold to over $200 for the prized issue with Teddy Roosevelt riding an ostrich on the cover. When offered as individual issues most of these magazines are still in the $25-$50 range.

 

The “old” LIFE ended in 1936, when Luce bought the name for his new, but unrelated periodical. Don’t confuse them, there’s nothing that ties them together except the name. In the meantime the “old” LIFE is still a great place to find illustrated ephemera and political and social commentary of the period.

 

Links: Here’s a site that carries a good inventory of “old” LIFE all years and displays the individual issues in a visual format.

 

https://2neat.com/magazine/product-category/life-magazine-1883-1936/

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Book of hours, manuscript on vellum. Around 1520. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>H. Schedel, <i>Liber chronicarum</i>. 1493. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Biblia germanica. 1474.<br>Est: € 140,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>A. Ortelius, <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum</i>. 1574. Est: € 26,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>L. de Varthema, <i>Die ritterlich und lobwirdig Rays</i>. 1515. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>J. H. van Linschoten, His <i>Discours of Voyages</i>. 1598. Est: € 70,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>J. G. Stedman, <i>Narrative of Surinam</i>. 1806. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>A. von Menzel, <i>Armeewerk Friedrichs d. Gr.</i> 1855. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>G. Heym, <i>Umbra Vitae</i>. 1924. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on May 22</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Master binding by G. Levitzky. 1914. Est: € 2,500
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>R. Char, <i>A la santé du serpent</i>. 1954. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 22:</b><br>Nam June Paik, Fluxus Testament. 1975. Est: € 18,000
  • <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>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

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions