Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2017 Issue

California Rescinds Application of Hated Autograph Law to Booksellers

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California Assemblyman Todd Gloria, author of the repeal of the autograph law as applied to booksellers.

Good news for booksellers – California has repealed its hated new autograph law, at least as it applies to booksellers. The onerous requirements, which also could have affected out-of-state booksellers selling to California residents and participants in California trade shows, will no longer apply to those in the book trade. The same applies to those selling manuscripts, numbered prints and other forms of autographed ephemera not pertaining to the sports or entertainment media industries.

 

The old law, which took effect on January 1 of this year, was never meant to apply to booksellers. It was intended to reach various memorabilia sellers, particularly in sports and entertainment, who regularly sell forged material. It is an industry by itself. According to the California Assembly's discussion of the bill, 94% of all Beatles' memorabilia is forged, 76% for Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. Nevertheless, the wording of the law did not make this point clear. As written, it sounded like the law would apply to booksellers selling autographed books and others as well.

 

What made this so upsetting to booksellers were the draconian requirements. Selling an autographed book might have required presenting the buyer with a Certificate of Authenticity with all sorts of information, some possibly hard to come by. Included in the detailed information were a description of the item, purchase price, an express warranty, size of edition if it is part of a limited edition, whether it was signed in the dealer's presence and the name of a witness to the signing, and if purchased from a third party the name and address of the person from whom it was purchased. Various warning notices had to be posted in bookshops and trade shows, and specific records had to be kept. Dealers specializing in signed editions or hosting author signing events would have been particularly hard hit by the requirements.

 

The terms were so demanding on booksellers that the author of the bill wrote a letter saying it was not intended to apply to booksellers. Unfortunately, that is not good enough. Only the law is the law, and her letter was not a part of the law. Under the letter of the law, it could readily be interpreted as applying to booksellers.

 

The new law makes numerous changes to the old legislation, such as increasing the minimum value of the item qualifying as a (autographed) collectible from the absurd $5 to $50. However, rather than looking at the adjustments, we will get straight to the new part that is targeted specifically to booksellers. The new law has some exceptions as to what is considered an autographed collectible. The previous law only said, sometimes in general terms, what was. Here is the key new section – "autographed collectibles" do not include, "signed books, manuscripts, and correspondence, as well as ephemera not related to sports or entertainment media." That is quite clear when it comes to books, and to much of the other material booksellers often handle. Another exception covers "works of fine art," including "numbered multiples," which will cover many artistic prints.

 

What is still in? Well, this revised definition now limits what is a collectible for purposes of the statute to just two areas, sports and entertainment media (music, television, and film). So now, we are limited to two subjects of collectibles, and with various formats such as books and original art in any subjects removed.

 

Is there anything that booksellers might handle which still could cause a problem? There are a few signed ephemeral items within the works on paper category one might have. Baseball programs, tickets, or cards are specifically listed. So are pictures and photographs related to films, along with tickets and playbills. These do show up occasionally in a dealer's inventory, so it is wise to be mindful here. You don't have to sell too many of them to be subject to the requirements. Just three of these valued at $50 or more over a 12-month period will subject you to the requirements. Be careful if you are a California dealer or selling into California. The statute also makes clear that auctions selling such non-exempt material must also comply with the revised rules.

 

 

Update:  As of October 3, the bill had not yet been signed by Gov. Brown. Unless the Governor vetoes it, it will become law on his signature or on October 15 if he neither signs nor vetoes the bill. It is expected the bill will be approved by the Governor.

 

Further Update:  The legislation has now been signed by Gov. Brown and is now law.


Posted On: 2017-10-01 14:18
User Name: robert.kearley06@gmail.com

Bravo for California Lawmakers! I wish all States would enact this legislation and focus on the many, many so-called Auction Houses that are simply in operation to turn a profit and would not stand up to the scrutiny of this Law.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <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>

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