• <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7: Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b><br>Shaw & Nodder, <i>The Naturalist's Miscellany</i>, complete, London, 1789-1813. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Samuel Baker, <i>A New and Exact Map of the Island of St. Christopher</i>, London, 1753. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Henry Briggs, <i>The North Part of America</i>, London, 1625. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7: Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b><br>John James Audubon, <i>Herring Gull</i>, CCXCI, hand-colored plate, London, 1836. $7,000 to $10,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Montanus & Ogilby, <i>America: Being the Latest, and Most Accurate Description of the New World</i>, London, 1671. $10,000 to $15,000. 
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Robert Cruikshank, portfolio of 25 watercolors, London, 1830s. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7: Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Group of 55 French watercolors depicting the life and deeds of Napoleon, 1800s. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Aaron & Samuel Arrowsmith, <i>Chart of the Sandwich Islands</i>, London, 1830. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Herman Moll, <i>A New and Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain</i>, London, 1735. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7: Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Jacques-Nicolas Bellin,<i> L'Hydrographie Françoise</i>, Paris, circa 1770. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, <i>Charlestown the Capital of South Carolina</i>, London, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jun 7:</b> Arnold Colom, <i>Pascaarte van Nieu Nederlandt</i>, Amsterdam, circa 1658. $7,000 to $10,000.
  • <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
  • <b>Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts: Books & Manuscripts Online Auction. May 23 - June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Andrew Wyeth, an archive of 43 unpublished letters. $80,000-120,000 [lot 1106]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Abraham Lincoln, signed document granting pensions to surviving Revolutionary War Veterans, 1865. $60,000-80,000 [lot 1058]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Forlani Map of North America, 1566. $40,000-60,000 [lot 1555]
    <b>Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts: Books & Manuscripts Online Auction. May 23 - June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> <i>Journal des Dames et des Modes</i>, 1912-1914. $4,000-6,000 [lot 1294]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Book of Hours, Use of Rouen, late 14th Century. $30,000-40,000 [lot 1162]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Schedel, World Map, 1493. $5,000-7,000 [lot 1589]
    <b>Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts: Books & Manuscripts Online Auction. May 23 - June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Sir Isaac Newton’s copy of <i>Le Grand’s Institutio Philosophiae</i>, 1675. $5,000-7,000 [lot 1308]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Muhammad Mu'min Husaini’s Tuhfat al-Mu'minin, 17th century Persian medical manuscript on paper. $4,000-6,000 [lot 1118]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Persian Calligraphy, an album. $4,000-6,000 [lot 1119]
    <b>Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts: Books & Manuscripts Online Auction. May 23 - June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> Edgar Allan Poe, <i>Tales</i>, New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1845. $3,00-5,000 [lot 1361]
    <b>Skinner Auction May 23 - Jun 2:</b> English New Testament, Douay-Rheims, 1582, first edition. $10,000-15,000 [lot 1154]
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Important Books & Manuscripts. May 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Columnis (Guido de). <i>Historia destructionis Troiae</i>, first edition, 1477-79.<br>Est. £30,000 - 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Modus versificando. Extraordinary sammelband of 21 works collected by a German humanist, 1492-1519. Est. £40,000 - 60,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Mary I & King Philip II. Letter signed to Lord Paget signed "Mary the Quene" and "Philipp R" and endorsed "By the King and the Quene", 1p., Westminster, 29th January 1555.<br>Est. £18,000 - 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Important Books & Manuscripts. May 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Pontanus (Ludovicus). <i>Singularia</i>, Lyon, 1517. Est. £4,000 - 6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Greene (Graham). <i>The Confidential Agent</i>, first edition, 1939. Est. £1,500 - 2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Dodgson (Rev. C.L.). <i>The Hunting of the the Snark</i>, presentation copy inscribed by the author, 1876. Est. £2,500 - 3,500
    <b>Forum Auctions: Important Books & Manuscripts. May 24, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Bacon (Sir Francis). <i>The Tvvoo Bookes of Francis Bacon</i>, first edition, 1605. Est. £1,000 - 1,500
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Metcalf (John Henry). <i>Armorial Sketches</i>, manuscript 1850. Est. £2,000 - 3,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 24:</b> Firdausi (Abu'l-Qasim). <i>Shahnama [The Book of Kings]</i>, with 20 minaitures, probably Kashmir, [late 18th/early 19th century]. Est. £2,000 - 3,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2007 Issue

A Bookseller's Dream, A Book Seller's Nightmare

Flavius

A Flavius Josephus sold for ­78,000 at Sotheby's


By Michael Stillman

A story recently came out of England that brings an ethical issue no one in the book trade enjoys facing to the forefront. It is a story that may not have bad guys, but it certainly has no good guys either. The issue is the age-old one of what, if anything, can we/should we do when an ignorant owner sells off valuable antiquarian books for a tiny fraction of their worth? One suspects this goes on more than we care to acknowledge, but rarely does it show up quite so starkly. In this case, the seller was a theological library, the buyer a bookseller.

The story begins in 2002 when trustees of the library of the Diocese of Truro conclude that they must make more room on their shelves for new books. This is a working library, not an antiquarian one, and they notice that many of the older tracts rarely if ever are consulted. The centerpiece of these older books is the library of Bishop Henry Phillpotts, donated to the diocese over a century earlier. These may have once been read with awe and reverence, but records indicate no one has looked at any of them in the past ten years. They are taking up space. The logical choice, for a working library, is to clear them away to make room for the new. So far all is well.

Next, the library begins the process of finding a buyer. Here is where it all goes wrong. Evidently, neither the trustees nor librarian have any idea as to what they might be worth. Essentially, they look like too many shelves of old religious books, and in general, such titles are not among the more valuable. The library apparently asks around, and places a small notice in the publication of the ABA (England's Antiquarian Booksellers Association). However, this note mentions only that they are seeking an appraisal for insurance purposes. Reportedly, three ABA booksellers responded, but the library never followed through.

Some time later, three other booksellers offer bids. It is not clear how these particular sellers became aware of the library, but few, if any others ever knew of the planned sale. The highest bid comes from London dealer John Thornton, a specialist in theological books. He bids £35,000 in 2004 (Americans – double the number of English pounds for an approximate U.S. equivalent). Runner up is said to be £20,000. Again, the library does little follow up. In 2006, Thornton comes back and ups his bid, ever so slightly, to £36,000. At this point, the library is getting tired of housing all of these old books and apparently wants very much to be rid of them. It also appears that they think that this bid must be fair since neither of the other dealers offered nearly so much. The bid is accepted.

You can see where this is going. That fall, Thornton carts away the books, three van loads. Next, some of these books start showing up at auction, first Dominic Winter, later Sotheby's. It becomes clear that Thornton has done quite well for himself.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature & Sporting Collectibles. May 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Joyce (James), An Original Manuscript Page of text from <i>Finnegan’s Wake</i>, the opening of the Anna Livia Plurabelle section. €7,500-10,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Joyce (James), <i>Chamber Music,</i> 1907. First Edition of his First Book, First Issue. €1,500-2,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Lady Gregory’s Copy Signed by W.B. Yeats, Cuala Press: Yeats (W.B.), <i>Poems Written in Discouragement</i>, 1913. Limited to 50 Copies Only. €2,500-4,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature & Sporting Collectibles. May 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> A Twentieth Century Masterpiece: O’Brien (Flann), <i>At Swim-Two-Birds</i>, 8vo, 1939. First Edn. €1,750-2,500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> The Missing Log of the H.M.S. Liffey Manuscript Journal, 1867. €1,500-2,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Exceptionally Rare First Publication: Gregory (Augusta Lady), <i>Over the River: An appeal for aid to a poor parish in South London</i>. 1887. €1,000-1,500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature & Sporting Collectibles. May 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Ex. Rare Irish Broadsheet: An Irish Perspective on the Execution of Louis XVI, 1793 Broadsheet with engraving of the event, headed: “Massacre of the French King.” €500-700
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Original Manuscript Poem, Heaney (Seamus), <i>The Schoolbag</i>. In Memoriam John Hewitt. Signed and dated November 8 1991. €1,000-1,500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Sowerby (J.E.), <i>English Botany; or Coloured Figures of British Plants</i>. Ed. by J.T. Boswell Syme. 10 vols, with 1696 hand-coloured plates. €750-1,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature & Sporting Collectibles. May 30, 2017</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Collection of Signed First Editions incl. Francis (Dick), <i>Nerve</i> (London 1964); <i>For Kicks</i> (London 1965); <i>Forfeit</i> (London 1968). €400-500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Le Carre (John), <i>The Spy who came in from the Cold</i>, 8vo, 1963, First Edn., with author’s signature tipped in on t.p. €350-500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy May 30:</b> Adams (Richard), <i>Watership Down</i>, 8vo, 1976, First Illustrated Edn., Signed on f.e.p. by Author & Artist, and also signed by Artist on hf. title. €200-300
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. June 7 New York<br>June 14 London. Accepting consignments</b>
    <b>Bonhams Jun 7:</b> Sangorski & Sutcliffe: Jewelled Binding. Byron, Lord [George Gordon]. An illuminated manuscript on vellum, being Byron's Ode to Napoleon. $40,000 - 60,000.
    <b>Sold at Bonhams:</b> Smith (Adam). <i>An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations</i>, 2 vol., first edition, W. Strahan, and T. Cadell, 1776. Sold for £68,750.
    <b>Sold at Bonhams:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Casino Royale</i>, first edition, first impression, Jonathan Cape, [1953]. Sold for £20,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. June 7 New York<br>June 14 London. Accepting consignments</b>
    <b>Sold at Bonhams:</b> Orwell (George). <i>Keep the Aspidistra Flying</i>, first edition, author's presentation copy, inscribed <i>"To, F.G. Westrope, with very best wishes, from, 'George Orwell'"</i><br>1936. Sold for £22,500
    <b>Sold at Bonhams:</b> Prout (Victor Albert). The Thames from London to Oxford in Forty Photographs. First [-Second] Series in 1 vol., first edition, Virtue and Company, [1862]. Sold for £16,250
    <b>Sold at Bonhams:</b> Fleming (Alexander). Papers and memorabilia of Sir Alexander Fleming kept by his niece Mary Elizabeth (Anne) Johnston, including a penicillin mould, notebook, photographs and other papers. Sold for £12,500
  • <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s: La bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé - Music and Poetry. 28 June 2017
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in association with Sotheby’s, June 28:</b> Jean de Lassus. Songs and madrigals. Album of three collections of secular music for tenor. Est: 15,000-20,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Richard Wagner. <i>Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg</i> [Booklet annotated by Wagner]. Original edition, corrected and annotated by Wagner.<br>Est: 60,000-80,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Claude Debussy. <i>La Damoiselle élue</i>. Lyric poem, after Rossetti. Limited ed of 160 copies: #98 of 125 on white vellum. Cover w/famous lithograph by Maurice Denis. Est: 6,000-8,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s: La bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé - Music and Poetry. 28 June 2017
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Stéphane Mallarmé. <i>A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance</i>. Corrected proofs. With autograph documents and lithographs by Redon.<br>Est: 10,000-15,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Henri Sauguet. <i>Les Forains</i>. Ballet. Reduction for piano. Paris, Rouart, Lerolle & Cie, 1946. Binding of the time. Original edition.<br>Est: 20,000-30,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Athanasius Kircher. <i>Musurgia Universalis sive Ars Magna Consoni et Dissoni in X. Libros digesta</i>. Rare original edition of the first musical encyclopedia.<br>Est: 30,000-40,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s: La bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé - Music and Poetry. 28 June 2017
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> François Villon & Clément Marot. <i>Les Œuvres de Françoys Villon de Paris</i>, reviewed and delivered in their entirety by Clement Marot, valet de chambre of the Roy. Est: 15,000-20,000
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Rainer Maria Rilke. <i>Larenopfer</i> (Offering to the Lares gods). Original edition. The second collection of Rainer Maria Rilke, containing ninety poems.<br>Est: 6,000-8,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Frédéric Chopin. <i>Scherzo for piano</i>, Paris, 1837. Exceptional score with authograph to his virtuoso student Jeanne Porte. Est: 15,000-20,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés in association with Sotheby’s: La bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé - Music and Poetry. 28 June 2017
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Paul Éluard. <i>Capitale de la douleur.</i> One the most beautiful poetic collections from the 1st surrealist wave, bearing an autograph by the author to Coco Chanel. Est: 15,000-20,000 €
    <b>Pierre Bergé and Associés, in assoc. with Sotheby’s, Jun 28:</b> Pierre de Ronsard. <i>Les Amours... </i> newly augmented by the author, and commented by Marc Antoine de Muret. Plus a few Odes from the author, not yet printed.<br>Est: 40,000-60,000 €
  • <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions: Sale of Books, Prints and Manuscripts.<br>May 30 – June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 30:</b> Hobson, R.L. <i>A catalogue of Chinese pottery and porcelain in the collection of Sir Percival David</i> (London, 1934). Est. € 8.000-10.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 30:</b> Chagall, M. <i>Drawings for the bible</i>. (Paris, 1960). Est. € 1.500-2.500
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 30:</b> Zwart, P. [N.K.F.]. <i>Delft kabels</i> (Delft, 1933). Est. € 20.000-30.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions: Sale of Books, Prints and Manuscripts.<br>May 30 – June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 30:</b> Zwart, P. [N.K.F.]. <i>Normalieënboekje</i> (Delft, 1924-1926). Est. € 30.000-50.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 30:</b> [Russian children's books]. Mayakovsky, V. Kem byt'? (What to be?) (Moscow, 1932). Est. € 500-700
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 30:</b> [Léger, F.]. Cendrars, B. <i>La Fin du Monde filmée par l'Ange</i> N.-D (Paris, 1919). Est. € 2.000-3.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions: Sale of Books, Prints and Manuscripts.<br>May 30 – June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 31:</b><br>La Roche, E. <i>Indische Baukunst</i> (Munich, 1921-1922). Est. € 3.000-5.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 31:</b> Blume, C.L. <i>Flora Javae nec non insularum adjacentium./ Flora Javae nec non insularum adjacentium </i> (Brussels, 1828). Est. € 7.000-9.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 31:</b> <i>Description de l'Égypte (…) pendant l'expédition de l'armée francaise</i> (Paris, 1820-1829). Est. € 30.000-50.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions: Sale of Books, Prints and Manuscripts.<br>May 30 – June 2, 2017</b>
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 31:</b><br>La Fontaine, J. de. <i>Fables choisies, mises en vers </i> (Paris, 1756).<br>Est. € 1.500-2.500
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions May 31:</b> [VOC and WIC]. Pelsaert, F. <i>Ongeluckige Voyagie, Van 't Schip Batavia, Nae de Oost-Indien</i> (Amsterdam, 1647).<br>Est. € 40.000-60.000
    <b>Bubb Kuyper Auctions June 2:</b> Goya y Lucientes, F.J. de. <i>La Taureaumachie </i> (Paris, 1876), 40 etchings and aquatints. Est. € 8.000-10.000

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