• <b>Arader June 11:</b> Audubon Aquatint by Havell, Purple Heron Purple Heron or Reddish Egret, Plate 256. London: Havell, 1827-1838.<br>Est. $45,000-$60,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Audubon Aquatint by Havell, Wild Turkey, Male Wild Turkey, Male, Plate 1. London: Havell, 1827-38. Est. $80,000-$100,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Audubon Lithographs, Imperial Folio, Common Deer Common Deer, Plate 136. Philadelphia: J. T. Bowen, 1839-44. Est. $12,000-$15,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Charles H. Smith, Indian Elephant Watercolor Indian Elephant. Charles H. Smith (1760 - 1859). Est. $6,000-$8,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Spectacularly Rare Copper Engraving Solanum Pomiferum. Basil Besler (1561-1629). Est. $5,000-$8,000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> John Contable Drawing of River Stour Barges on the River Stour at Flatford, Suffolk John Constable (1776-1837).<br>Est. $45000-$65000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Pine's The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords The Tapestry Hangings of the House of Lords. Est. $18000-$22000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Exceptionally Fine and Attractive Copy of Bertram's Travels Travels. William Bartram (1729-1823). Est. $22000-$25000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Mortier & Covens French edition of Mitchell A Map of the British and French Dominions in N America... Est. $15000-$25000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Jefferson and Fry Map of Virgina, 1776 A Map of the Most Inhabited part of Virginia... <br>Est. $12000-$18000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Floriano, Untitled World Map on a Double Hemisphere Polar Projection World Map. Antonio Floriano. Est. $75000-$100000.
    <b>Arader June 11:</b> Bierstadt Chromolithograph of Yosemite Domes of Yosemite. Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). Est. $18000-$25000.
  • <b>Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts, 8 June 2016, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 1. ARISTOTLE. 384-322 B.C.E. De animalibus [De historia animalium. De partibus animalium. De generatione animalium.] US$ 300,000-500,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 44. ARIOSTO, LUDOVICO. 1474-1533. Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse, by John Haringto[n]. [London: Richard Field, 1591.] US$ 70,000-90,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 183. HARRISON, William Henry. Document Signed AS PRESIDENT ("W.H. Harrison"). US$ 40,000-60,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 116. <br>ALI, MUHAMMAD. B.1942. U.S. Passport Signed ("Muhammad Ali") Twice, [Dublin, July 19, 1972].<br>US$ 25,000-35,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 52. Bible In English. [Mearne, Samuel, binder.] The Holy Bible containing the bookes of the Old & New Testament. US$ 25,000-35,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 130. EARHART, Amelia. 1897-1937. Archive of material on the purchase and outfitting of Earhart's Lockheed Electra 10e. US$ 15,000-20,000.
    <b>Bonhams June 8:</b> Lot 85. BURTON, Virginia Lee. 1909-1968. The Little House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1942. US$ 15,000-20,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 68. CAMERON (Julia Margaret) Kate Keown [No. 5 Of Series of Twelve Lifesized Heads], [1866]. <br>£30,000-50,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 98. Karl Marx. Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Oekonomie... Erster Band, FIRST EDITION, 1867.<br>£80,000-120,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 111. Isaac Newton Autograph manuscript, in English, headed "The Question stated about abstaining from blood". £50,000-70,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 112. Nobel Prize for discovering isotopes in stable elements, awarded to F.W. Aston in 1922. £200,000-400,000.
    <b>Bonhams London June 15.</b> Lot 140. Kay Nielsen (Prince Bismarck discovering the soldier), 1913. £15,000-20,000.
  • <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 552. Zoologie. Merian, Maria Sibylla. De Europische insecten ... Estimate 32000 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 32. (Horae beatae maria virginis.)-(Hours for use of Paris) presented a lusaige hours of Paris. Gedrucktes Stundenbuch auf Pergament. Estimate 10000 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 15. Inkunabeln. Curtius Rufus, Quintus. Third known edition.<br>Estimate 7000 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 145. Atlanten - China. Philippe Vandermaelen. Atlas Universel de Géographie Physique, Politique, Statistique et Minéralogique. Estimate 6000 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 144. Atlanten. Seutter, Matthäus. Nordenskiöld 283. Phillips 3494. Estimate 4500 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 864. Mulinari, Stefano. Disegni originali d'eccellenti pittori esistenti nella Real Galleria ... <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 864. Mulinari, Stefano. Disegni originali d'eccellenti pittori e
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 29. Reisch, Gregor. Margarita philosophica (with a (m ) addition new timber. Estimate 3000 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 37. Antiphonar. Proprium Officium Defuntoru. Ad versperas. Ana. Estimate 2500 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 11. Einbände. Fünf Werke der lateinischen Klassik. Amsterdam, Blaeu 1630-1632. Estimate 1800 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 87. Zirardini, Gaetano Conte. Comparazione fra le luminose gesta dell'imperatore Carlo V. con quelle dell'imperatore Francesco I. d'Austria. Estimate 1500 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 432. Fische. Couch, Jonathan. A history of the fishes of the British Islands. 4 Bde. Mit 252 handkolor. Estimate 1200 €.
    <b>Jeschke Van Vliet Berlin May 27:</b><br>Lot 950. Arp, Hans. Mondsand. Gedichte. Mit 7 Original-Radierungen von Hans Arp. Estimate 1200 €.
  • <b>American History: Live Salesroom Auction, June 10, 10:00 AM ET</b>
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 5. The Confederate Blockade Runner <i>CSS Colonel Lamb at Sea</i>, 1864, by Samuel Walters. Est $60000-$80000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 140. Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry, Exceptional Collection. Est Est $80000-$100000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 141. Elizabeth "Libbie" Bacon Custer, ALS and Souvenir Relics from the Surrender at Appomattox Court House.<br>Est $20000-$30000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 116. Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth Presentation Sword and Archive. Lot of 52 items related to Elmer Ellsworth.<br>Est $100000-$200000.
    <b>American History: Live Salesroom Auction, June 10, 10:00 AM ET</b>
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 1. Paul Revere, War of 1812, Mechanics of the Town of Boston Signed Pledge. <br>Est $10000-$15000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 64. Rare Whole Plate Tintype of the Ill-Fated Civil War Steamer Sultana. <br>Est $5000-$7000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 346. James B. "Wild Bill" Hickok Tintype and Autograph Poem Signed.<br>Est $20000-$30000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 330. Remarkable California US Mail Steamship Co. Broadside, 1859. <br>Est $10000-$15000.
    <b>American History: Live Salesroom Auction, June 10, 10:00 AM ET</b>
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 161. Previously Unknown Daguerreotype of Future First Lady Julia Dent Grant and Sons Made for Captain Ulysses S. Grant. Est $10000-$15000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 229. <i>Titanic Disaster</i>, Ogden Family Travel Album Containing 30 Photographs Taken from the RMS Carpathia. <br>Est $5000-$7000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 230. RMS <i>Titanic</i>, Cork from Life Belt Salvaged by Passengers of the RMS <i>Carpathia</i>. Est $7000-$9000.
    <b>Cowans June 10:</b> Lot 231. Bronze RMS Carpathia Medals Presented to Mr. & Mrs. Ogden, Plus ALS from Captain Arthur Rostron.<br>Est $4000-$6000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2010 Issue

Where "Coverless" and "Foxed" are Positive Selling Features

Restbookbundle

Coverless book bundles, as offered by Restoration Hardware.


By Michael Stillman

When is a book more desirable after its covers have been torn from the pages? When are terms such as "foxed" and "faded" a positive selling feature? Welcome to the new world of books as art. Wait long enough and just about anything can get turned upside down.

Books have been collected as objects of art at least as far back as Jean Grolier, who put together his library almost five centuries ago. In those days books did not come with covers. That was left to the owner, and Grolier responded by binding his in fine leather, with ornaments, gilding and the like. For Grolier it was more than just an attempt to make his house look nice. It was a reflection of how he valued books and the knowledge contained within.

In the 19th century, the concept of fine press books began to take root. Printers such as the legendary Kelmscott began to produce decorative books, works of art straight off the press. The fine presses would generally pick classic titles, but their editions, usually printed in short runs, were really meant more to be appreciated as physical objects, such as paintings, than to be read. If you wanted to read the book, you probably bought a standard edition so you wouldn't deface the fine copy. The wealthier collectors of books as art purchased titles from fine presses such as Kelmscott or Grabhorn, those without much money might opt for a collectible edition from the Franklin Mint. Usually such collectors had an appreciation for the author's writing, or at least believed they ought to, even if they never actually read the work. Still, their intention was to place something of beauty and erudition on their shelves.

In the past decade we have seen the development of books as art taken to another level, one where the text became totally irrelevant. This was the "books by the foot" phenomenon. These are books that are purchased by size, a foot of books, a yard of books, whatever. You don't even know what titles you will receive. The only promise is that the covers will look nice and you won't get two copies of the same book. There is no pretense of the buyer having any interest in the content. Any thought of interest in the content clearly disappears when the buyer does not know or even care what books he is buying, though stacking such books on your shelf may imply an attempt to convince others of an interest in their content.

Now this concept has been taken a step further. Restoration Hardware, a highly respected name in the field of fixtures and such for older homes, is offering "antique coverless book bundles." These are bundles of books with their covers missing ("liberated from their covers"), tied together with string. It is what you would do to bring them to a recycling center. They are what the trade would refer to as "reading copies" (or some dealers as "...otherwise very good"). Noting that these bundles are "rich with texture and intrigue," Restoration Hardware explains, "Liberated from their covers, stitched and bound with jute twine, the foxed and faded pages of old books become objêts d'art." This is the first time I've seen "foxed" used as a compliment. "Foxy," yes, but not "foxed." Nevertheless, that little roof symbol over the "e" in "objêts d'art" seals the deal that this is something of high class.

Maybe I shouldn't be put off by these bundles. In these days of electronic readers, perhaps we should be thankful for any use someone finds for printed texts. And, maybe this isn't all that different from what Grolier, or Kelmscott or Grabhorn did. It is just taken to a different level. We traveled down the road from pre-washed to pre-faded jeans, and finally, to "new" pairs that already had holes in them. These books are sort of like the jeans that come with holes already there. Bad is good. One word that does not jump out in my mind to describe either these bundles or holy jeans is "authentic." The traditionalist in me says that old books missing their covers should get that way from use, not because some big cutting machine sliced off their covers. Still, with millions of old books out there that circumstances have now made virtually worthless, maybe it is good that they now have one more chance to find their way into people's homes. Frankly, my book collection just got a lot more valuable.

If you would like to purchase some coverless books for your shelves, they are available for $29 per bundle. Click here to order yours.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. Iconic signed Darwin photograph "I like this photograph much better than any other which ..."
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>Autograph Letter Signed</i>. Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> WRIGHT, WILBUR. Experiments and Observations in Soaring Flight. Journal of the Western Society of Engineers 8, no. 4 (August, 1903).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH. Signed and dated Oxford 1931.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> GARDNER, ALEXANDER. Antietam Bridge, Maryland. "One of the memorable spots in the history of the war."
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Leaves from<br>George Washington's Own Draft <br>of His first Inaugural Address. An Extraordinary Rarity!
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Declaration of Independence: Benjamin Tyler 1818 - First Print with Facsimile Signatures.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Thomas Jefferson Signed Act of Contress Authorizing Alexander Hamilton to Complete Famous Portland Maine Lighthouse.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Emanuel Leutze. Silk Flag Banner designed by Leutze, created by Tiffany & Co., and presented to Gen. John A. Dix, 1864.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The "greatest of early American maps … a masterpiece" (Corcoran). Thomas Holme.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Summons His Cabinet for a Historic Meeting to Discuss Compensated Emancipation.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph Letter Signed. Einstein Counsels His Son ... Meaning of Life.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Normal Rockwell. Painting/Drawing Signed. Rockwell's "Barbeshop Quartet", 1936.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Frederick Douglass. Autograph Letter Signed to unknown correspondent. Washington, D.C.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Harry Truman. Autograph Manuscript Notebook for Kansas City Law School Night Class.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph Letter Signed, June 11, 1782. Hours after the Battle of Culpeper Court House, Lee Escapes Again.
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington. Letter Signed, as Commander-in-Chief, Continental Army, to Elias Dayton, Headquarters, [Newburgh, N.Y.], June 11, 1782.
  • http://catalogue.swanngalleries.com/asp/searchresults.asp?sale_no=2419&st=D&viewby=lot_asc&ps=25&pg=1
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Lewis Carroll, <i>Alice's Adventures</i>, illustrated & signed by Salvador Dalí, New York, 1969. <br>$12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> David Roberts, <i>The Holy Land</i>, 6 volumes, London, 1842-49. <br>$35,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Arthur Szyk, <i>The Szyk Haggadah</i>, edited by Cecil Roth, first edition, signed, London, 1939. <br>$15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>The Dramatic Works</i>, 9 illustrated volumes, London, 1802. $5,000 to $7,500.
    http://catalogue.swanngalleries.com/asp/searchresults.asp?sale_no=2419&st=D&viewby=lot_asc&ps=25&pg=1
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Grimm Brothers, <i>Little Brother & Little Sister</i>, illustrated & signed by Arthur Rackham, London, 1917. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> John Milton, <i>Paradise Lost</i>, illustrated by John Martin, London, 1846. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> Edward Young, <i>The Complaint, and The Consolation</i>, first edition, illustrated by William Blake, London, 1797. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 14:</b> <i>Catalogue of the Morgan Collection of Chinese Porcelains</i>, first edition, New York, 1904-11. $3,000 to $4,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions