Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2006 Issue

An Upstate New York Perspective

Jandb.2006

Jenny and Bruce McKinney, partners in all things


By Bruce McKinney

In early July [2006] Jenny and I spent eight days traversing New York State's northern tier in search of books, book dealers and information. We flew into Buffalo and home from Albany, spent a day in Canada and two at Worcester, Massachusetts, visited half a dozen dealers and had discussions with four. We saw and learned a great deal. I set out with the supposition that a significant portion of collectible material in the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera categories is not on line and returned knowing much more about the relationship between the internet and retail business. I'll start by discussing the trip and then offer some perspective.

We arrived in Buffalo from San Francisco on Sunday evening July 9th and made straight for the Hyatt Regency Downtown, chosen because it is located in the old part of the city. We ate at the bar as the restaurant was closed and met Patricia, the first of many very open and helpful locals who were quick to answer questions and offer suggestions. On a bar stool we received an introduction to the city along with a handful of maps and guides.

On Monday we visited Niagara Falls, first the American and then the Canadian side. The American side is for those who wish to see the water disappear and the Canadian side for those who prefer to see it fall. We seemed to be about a century late for the American side that has a persistent worn feeling. This was probably once quite a place but urban renewal that has cleaned up decay in many cities hasn't made much of an impression here and it's an easy decision to cross into Canada for a view from the west. The Canadian side is Manhattan to the American side's Bronx and we may be the only ones in the area who didn't know it because the crowds on the Canadian side are Disneylandesque. This is a theme park and there are even rides. Maid of the Mist ferries carry a continuing stream of ready-to-get-wetters to their Niagara Falls baptism in the primal mist that is always rising from the crashing water. This is North America's Ganges. I make the requisite calculations about surviving the drop and conclude a turtle crossing an expressway at rush hour has a better chance.

Jenny and I have been married for 29 years but this is our first time here together so now we are officially married. Just in case at the gates of heaven they divide new arrivals by "all Niagara Falls visitors step to the right" we are covered. On the other hand my personal theory is that we don't die until we complete all assigned tasks so this visit may be a mistake as it shortens our personal lists of things yet to be done. As of this writing however nothing has changed. We move on looking for lunch time peace among the tourist pandemonium. We find it at Niagara-on-the-Lake, a beautiful old and upscale community a half hour into Canada. It's stunning how different the feeling is. It is clean and orderly. They don't need urban renewal here as the place is fresh and well maintained. We see an European outpost, the Prince of Wales Hotel and sit down to an excellent lunch, proof that Europe is an idea that flourishes three thousand miles west of Paris.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>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.

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