Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2003 Issue

So This Is Day One In The World Of Book Collecting...

Matchmaker2

MatchMaker will Help You Find Interesting Items


By Bruce McKinney


So this is day one in the new world of book collecting. It doesn’t seem to be much different to me. I like to collect books. I did before and I do now. So what exactly is different? The AE Database on this site can answer many questions but it doesn’t tell me what questions to ask. For those who are interested in Americana there are always things around to consider purchasing but not many clear, easy and relatively instant ways to know if a book I’m being shown logically fits into what I’m trying to collect. The world of Americana is relatively small. The total titles that can by any stretch be connected to this field is probably less, and probably significantly less, than 400,000 for titles printed before 1925 but this is still a lot of material. But for collectors the field can feel as big as an ocean when their interests are potentially all of but not more than a mountain lake.

I have always faced a blizzard of collecting possibilities. Early on I focused on imprints because they are self-limiting. Of course book collecting is an itch that has to be periodically scratched so I couldn’t set my parameters too precisely. Over the years I have tended to buy all kinds of imprints if they looked like they came out of small shops. They have always looked interesting to me and they still do.

But now I’m standing on the outside looking at the entire field of Americana. Using the ÆD, I can select very defined parameters in the field of Americana and I can run searches to see what is in a particular field, see what many of the listed titles have cost in the past, and then build a "Wants List" of interesting items that I can then post both to the internet and to be compared to upcoming auctions for a full year. Then if any titles matching my descriptions are posted I’m to be notified within a few hours. What is this miraculous process called? It’s called MatchMaker and it works very well. It is introduced and described elsewhere in ÆM this month.

To see what is in the ÆD today, I run "Keyword" searches in the ÆD for various places. This is what I find: San Jose 286; New Haven 1,500+; Little Rock 232; Trenton 992; New Castle 317; and Omaha 735. These searches are probably the most exhaustive analysis of material you can readily obtain. And because the Æ Database is augmented each week, the number of records in every area of interest increases steadily. I only have to periodically rerun my "Keyword" searches, identify new material and then add these titles to my "Wants Lists". In other words, I can start with a substantial list and see it grow over time.

I’ve been working with this Æ Database software, in prototype form, for several months and I have already identified several interesting items that I’ve purchased on the net. I’m finding that I have to work at this a bit though. This MatchMaker software is beginning to take me very deeply into a relatively narrow field. I find I like this because I seem to be quickly becoming more knowledgeable about this small area than most dealers are. I’m also finding that periodically I want to go back to look at the results in the Æ Database searches to look for clues to other material. For instance I found that Fishkill is also spelled Fish-kills and Fish-kill. Fishkill currently has 79 matches, Fish-kill 52 and Fish-kills 7. In time my "Wants List" for the Hudson Valley are going to reach 1,000 titles. Right now it is at about 325.

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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