Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2017 Issue

The World as it will Be

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Books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera are real but their world has, for years, been losing locations on Main Streets, High Streets and Broadways around the world.  Why?  Parts of it are, [1] changing tastes, [2] rising prices, [3] thinning markets, [4] the Internationalization of these markets, and [5] the aging of core buyers and collectors.  These changes have remade the field into a more event based business with a succession of collector/collecting shows and auctions to capture the attention of the everyday market.

 

The decline of shops has long been understood to be a disaster because many, possibly most collectors today, received their introduction to the field by browsing the shelves of the used and rare book shops that not so long ago, were found nearby.

 

The Internet of course is remaking commerce, aggregating many fields on-line, while undermining the shops and businesses that emerged in the final decades of what historians will someday call “the end of the traditional retail period.”  For book dealers, their clients increasingly interact on line, pursuing best or most appropriate copies over those nearer by.  These days the traditional methodology slips away, older practitioners continuing as their fathers and grandfathers did, their children now living deeply in an electronic world that, beyond communicating, increasingly shapes our understanding of the book and its materiality to our lives.  And it is their generation that will remake the field.

 

Here is what I think will happen.

 

Collectible paper, be it books, manuscripts, maps or ephemera, is a distinctive niche but only a niche in the world of commerce but it should be able to support a reimagined location in the electronic ether that combines our understanding of the world we leave behind with the world, with its increasing capabilities, it now becomes.

 

The good news is that shops will return to a Main Street if not to the same Main Street they were once a part.  But they will return because they are remembered and wished for, if not in quite enough numbers to support actual locations much anymore.

 

How will this happen.

 

It is now possible to create alternative realities online and the world of old and rare books will either be its own reality or a part of another or other larger realities.  Books, one hopes, will be able to support their own world.

 

In such a reimaged world there will be dealers, collectors, auction houses and libraries.  They are already part of indexed listing sites, be they eBay, Amazon, Rare Book Hub, OCLC, ILAB, ABAA, ABA and others.  Indexed sites are the norm.  What will now happen is that the world we remember will be projected as the starting point of an electronic one with increasingly supernatural capabilities.

 

Consider

 

If the world of books is reimagined as a village there will be dealers and their listings.  There will be auction history as reference for valuation and probability of reappearance and several hundred auction houses whose listings contribute to the never-ending flow of upcoming auction lots.  And eZines such as Rare Book Monthly and Weekly Auction Update.  And libraries and collector presentations will be here as well with options to share, acquire and sell as preferred.  And because would-be buyers have unique interests their search terms will reconfigure the village to mute the less relevant and hoist high the most relevant.  Someone browsing this world will instinctively understand the scale and importance of subjects, something that is difficult to access today.

 

And perhaps the form of collectible will be a defining search term.  These days ephemera are rising so being able to recast the village to rank dealers according to their ephemera holdings would be quite useful.  Who will I visit and what will I browse?  The question will be:  who has what and can I open a conversation.  So think for a moment what the ABAA Fair in New York would be like if, in an online re-imagination, we could see who’s bringing what and map out a plan to meet.    It’s within their power.

 

In this reimagined world every firm and entity will have the option but not the obligation to answer questions by phone, facetime or email.  Some will and others won’t.  So why will some organizations do this?  To build rapport.  I’ve been fielding members’ calls for fifteen years and value these interactions above all others.  Hearing people’s questions first-hand as well as how they frame their questions helps define the changing expectations that will be met in this new world.

 

Essentially this is an understandable 3D place that reconfigures based on subjects, searches and perspective; one that changes form in response to questions and is unique to each participant.  In other words, an engrossing experience.

 

So if looking for auctions, auctions then assume center stage while comparables and research lurk nearby, the searches already done in background anticipation, they then waiting for the click that says “show me what you got.”

 

So you woke up this morning thinking it would be just another day.  Nope!  Welcome to the future.

 

The bad news is we can’t hold on to the past.  The good news we get the chance to shape the future.

 

With this article 10 images are posted.  They have been identified and sequenced by Paul Yu.  The final image, created by Mark West, is one showing the world of Alice in Wonderland, in this article a metaphor for the imaginary world we will someday inhabit.  Mr. West is an illustrator and musician working in London, England.  Links are provided at the end of this article.

 

The 10 image set portrays the setting of the sun on the world we have known and the sunrise of this world reconsidered.  Many people will have ideas about what this world should look like.  Please send them to me and we’ll include them in follow-up articles as we add features to this emerging concept.

 

The good news is that the world of rare paper, already on the net primarily as databases, will soon move decisively to become an integrated world and its strangest aspect may be that it will be designed mostly by people with grey and white hair.

 

About Mr. West:   Mark West is an illustrator and musician working in London, England.  This illustration was originally created for a club night called 'Wonderland' which raises money for www.wyce.org.uk helping communities in The Gambia, and it features every scene and character from Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, in event order from bottom left.  For more information please visit www.mixedcasesspaces.co.uk

 

Whether you agree or disagree we'll appreciate your perspective.  RBH members can directly post while they are signed into their account.  Others can sign-up for a free account and then post.  To join click the Become a Member link in the upper right corner.  Alternatively you can email me at bmckinney@rarebookhub.com or call me at 415.823.6678.

 


Posted On: 2017-05-01 08:42
User Name: PeterReynolds

I've been 17 years as an online-only bookseller (though anyone can visit if they make an appointment). And the mail order bookseller existed long before that.


Posted On: 2017-05-01 16:40
User Name: biohish

I am not sure if I correctly understand your "re-imagined" future of the collectible book "village" as you referred to it, but I am 38 years of age, have been collecting since my dental school days, and have amassed a respectable collection of dental books, manuscripts, art, and instruments dating as far back as 350 BC, with a 13th century manuscript leaf, and printed books of royal provenance, all within the dental themed sphere, and almost all, to the tune of 99.99%, have been acquired via online relationships. I have been purchasing from certain dealers for more than a decade without having met them in person, or even the chance to hear their voices.

While the "death" of the book shop browsing experience can be debated, and justifiably so, this is not the point of this article I gather, but rather how the future of the rare book world should evolve.

Well, I believe I have been living in this "re-imagined collectible book village" for almost 15 years now. I wake up every morning and log in to my notifications at Vialibri, RareBookHub, Invaluable, The-Saleroom, Drouot, Liveauctioneers, Lot-Tissimo, etc, etc. Not to mention the plethora of direct emails from dealers and auction representatives that I have had the pleasure of structuring a deep and thoughtful relationship with throughout my earl collecting years.

Again, unless I am misunderstanding your vision of this re-imagined village, I must respectfully say that this article is 10 to 15 years late.

Sincerely,
H. S. Ayoub, DMD
www.hsayoub.com


Posted On: 2017-05-01 16:47
User Name: biohish

I forgot to mention the current excitement regarding the opportunities presented by social networking sites, especially Instagram, where dealers, librarians, curators, and the youth of the rare book collecting world have been interconnecting in a novel way, on an unprecedented scale, utilizing the current generation's affinity for the visual.

I believe, short of a massive facebook-style effort geared just towards the collectors of the past, we are all already living in the "future" of rare book collecting.

H. S. Ayoub, DMD
www.hsayoub.com


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Cartwright (George). <i>A Journal of Transactions and Events, during a Residence of nearly Sixteen Years on the Coast of Labrador...,</i> first edition, with A.L.s. from the author, 1792. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Swift (Jonathan). <i>Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World,</i> 2 vol., first edition, Teerink's "A" edition, Printed for Benj. Motte, 1726. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Fourier (Jean Baptiste Joseph). <i>Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur,</i> first edition, Paris, chez Firmin Didot, 1822. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Genealogiae Deorum,</i> additions by Dominicus Silvester and Raphael Zovenzonius, Venice, Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Mary I. Letter signed at the head "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, 1 page, 7th June 1556. The recall from exile of nine persons opposed to the Marian regime. £10,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Nelson (Horatio). Autograph Letter signed "Horatio Nelson" and written to Francis Drake, British Minister at Genoa, discussing the disposition of his "Cruizers" near Genoa. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Darwin (Charles). Unpublished Autograph Letter signed to Walter Raleigh Browne, playing down his scientific knowledge of comparative anatomy, 1881. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Murphew (J.). <i>The fair in an uproar, or, the dancing-doggs.</i> As they perform in Mr. Pinkeman's New Opera in Bartholomew Fair, 1707. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Chaucer (Geoffrey). <i>The Workes,</i> by [Nicholas Hill for] Thomas Petit, dwellyng in Paules churche yarde at the sygne of the Maydens heed, 1550. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. September 27, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Austen (Jane). <i>Emma: A Novel,</i> 3 vol., first edition, 1816. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>Stamboul Train,</i> first edition, first issue, 1932. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 27:</b> Churchill.- Fearon (Percy Hutton) "Poy". “Eat More Beef,” pen and ink cartoon with shading in blue pencil, [July 1928]. £400 to £600
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> LAUTRÉAMONT. <i>Les Chants de Maldoror.</i> 1869. First edition, unbound, one of the rare copies dated 1869. €100 000 to €150 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> PAUL VERLAINE. Poème saturnien. March 31st -June 1st, 1885. Autograph poem signed and illustrated. €12 000 to €15 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ. <i>L’Après-midi d’un faune.</i> 1876. Inscribed to Paul Gauguin. €30 000 to €40 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. <i>[La Cloche fêlée,</i> 1851–1855.] Signed autograph manuscript of one of the poems of Les Fleurs du mal. €25 000 to<br>€35 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> STÉPHANE MALLARMÉ. <i>Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe.</i> Circa 1889. Signed autograph manuscript inscribed to Edmund Gosse. €40 000 to €60 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> GÉRARD DE NERVAL. Manuscrit autographe. 1855. Rare manuscript fragment of Aurelia with corrections. €20 000 to €30 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> PAUL VERLAINE. <i>La Bonne chanson.</i> 1870. First edition. One of 20 copies on Hollande paper in a mosaic binding by Noulhac. €15 000 to<br>€18 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> ARTHUR RIMBAUD. Autograph letter to his sister, July 10, 1891. One of the most beautiful letters by Rimbaud, about his last moments, illustrated with drawings of his leg. €80 000 to €100 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> GUSTAVE FLAUBERT. <i>Salammbô.</i> 1863. First edition. One of 25 copies on Hollande paper, this one inscribed to Théophile Gautier. €30 000 to<br>€40 000
    <center><b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII :<br>XIXe siècle (1840–1898)<br>First editions – Reviews – Autograph letters and manuscripts<br>Auction in association with Binoche & Giquello on October 9th.</b></center>
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. <i>Les Fleurs du mal</i>. 1857. First edition, unbound.<br>€15 000 to €20 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> CHARLES BAUDELAIRE. Barbey d’Aurevilly caricature. Original drawing (208 x 130 mm). 1865.<br>€20 000 to €30 000
    <b>Bibliothèque R. & B. L. VII, Oct. 9:</b> OSCAR WILDE. <i>The Ballad of Reading Goal by C.3.3.</i> 1898 First edition, publisher’s binding, one of 30 on Japan paper. €10 000 to €12 000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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