Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2008 Issue

In Praise of Book Fairs and One in Particular

Chbl

The beneficiary: the fair is 1.2 miles away


By Bruce McKinney

On Saturday July 12th, at around 6:00 am, a scouting party of motivated book buyers will prepare to head off for the Friends of the C. H. Booth Library Book Sale in Newtown, Connecticut. Some will have travelled hundreds, a few even a thousand miles, to be here this morning. As book buyers they are fulfilling a necessary and in fact one of the final roles in this centipede-like process that has involved forty library volunteers in preparations for a year and will now incorporate another sixty to complete this annual library book fair over the next five days. On this morning inveterate book buyers, who will number in the hundreds in a few hours and in the thousands before the sale is over, drift in between 7:00 and 9:00 am to plunk down their ten bucks and line up for first crack at what is one of the more interesting book fairs in America. This is the five-day C. H. Booth Library Sale: an event first organized when Richard Nixon was President that continues to prosper into its fourth decade. Here where recently there have been UFO sightings the only moving vehicles attracting attention the first morning will be the expectant vans, pregnant with hope, that soon fill nearby parking spaces in anticipation of victory in the "I search for bargains" sweepstakes that will be underway at 9:00 am sharp. In a year that has seen 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes and 31,536,000 seconds pass by since the 2007 fair ended the opening bell is about to sound on the 2008 event.

Nothing this morning is going to happen by accident. Material has been solicited and collected from several states around. The canvassing, begun as last year's sale ended, has induced material across state borders, over in-state county lines, and from out of inventories, collections, basements and attics in and around Newtown, to arrive for massing, sorting, culling, assigning and allocation. Some lucky books have gained bragging rights born of selection to the rare book room, while others, more pedestrian but possibly simply over-looked, have been shunted off to the gymnasium or cafetorium [the love child of school planners who long ago combined cafeterias and auditoriums]. So much for the old dictum "do not take food into the auditorium."

Years ago it was mostly book dealers who showed up early but increasingly collectors understand the rule: first come first served. When the doors swing open on the 12th the first-in will, by the direction they take, betray their buying preferences. The place is divided into fiction, non-fiction and rare. Eighty-five percent will heed the siren call of Hemingway, Wolfe, Twain and Updike if fiction and Solzhenitsyn, Orwell, Arendt, Frank and Bloom if non. Others will head straight for the coffee. Twenty or so will make a beeline for the rare book room where 500 or more items, culled from the roughly 120,000 pieces collected for the sale, will be available for inspection and purchase. The material they encounter will have been set aside for a variety of reasons under the general umbrella of "rare, collectible and signed" books. The word "expensive" won't be heard much. The word "quirky" and "hard to get" could be. Among this year's material is a collection on weight lifting that is mostly pamphlets, a run of religious tracts that go back to the late 18th century, vintage paperbacks, in particular science fiction and mysteries, and a collection of sheet music. There are of course many other things that will be left undiscussed so that those attending can make discoveries and take home their prizes. To participate you have to be there. This is not an eBay auction. It's more like first day of hunting season.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.

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