• <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Zenobius. Epitome proverbiorum Tarrhaei et Didymi [graece], Florence, [possibly Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, [after 23 September] 1497. £15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Phalaris. [Phalaridis tyranni Apollonii Philosophi pythagoraei Epistolae [Graece], Venice, Bartholomaeus Pelusius, Gabriel Bracius de Brisighella, Johannes Bissolus and Benedictus Mangius, 18 June, 1498. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Orpheus. Argonautica. Hymni [graece], Florence, [Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, 19 September, 1500. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Primaleon.- Los tres libros del muy esforçado cavallero Primaleon et Polendos su hermano…, Venice, Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio for Giovanni Battista Pederzano, February, 1534. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bodoni (Giambattista). Manuale Tipografico, 2 vol., Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1818. £8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Music. Gafurius (Franchinus). Practica musicae, Brescia, Angelus Britannicus, 23 September, 1497. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bonaventura (Saint). A group of three Franciscan mystical texts, [14th century]. £15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). Trattatello in laude di Dante, decorated manuscript on paper, Florence, first half of 15th century. £30,000 – 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Greek medical manuscript. Iatrosophion, decorated manuscript on paper, Greece (probably Crete), [first half of 16th century]. £8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Heraldry. Nayler (George). Album of coats of arms compiled from the papers of Sir George Nayler, 114 coats of arms, most with manuscript captions. [17th, 18th & early 19th centuries]. £1,500 – 2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Zoffany (Johan). Autograph Letter signed to Messrs. Raikes & Co., merchants, 1p. with conjugate blank and address panel, 17th July 1801, "In consequence of an order I received from General Claud Martin…”<br>£500 - 700
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bury (Richard de, Bishop of Durham). Philobiblon...sive de amore librorum, Oxford, Joseph Barnes, 1599.<br>£4,000 – 6,000
  • <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>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

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>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie.</i> Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1916.<br>$80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in English, Signed Integrally ("Isaac Newton"). $50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life</i>. London: John Murray, 1859. $25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. <i>The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.</i> London: Benjamin Motte, 1729.<br>$20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEISENBERG, WERNER. Autograph Manuscript entitled "<i>Entwicklung der Theorie der Elementarteilche,</i>” [1964].<br>$15,000 – 25,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> BERNOULLI, DANIEL. <i>Hydrodynamica, sive De viribus et motibus fluidorum commentarii.</i> Strasbourg: Johann Heinrich Decker for Johann Reinhold Dulsecker, 1738. $5,000 – 7,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> [TARKOVSKY, ANDREI ARSENIEVICH.] STRUGATSKY, BORIS AND ARKADY. Typed Manuscript for <i>Stalker</i>, being the director's working script, 1977. $150,000 – 200,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. Typed Manuscript of "Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Letter," n.p., [1933]. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> SALINGER, JEROME DAVID. 4 Autograph Letters, 2 of which Signed ("Jerry") and 6 Typed Letters, 2 of which Initialed ("J"). $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> PASTERNAK, BORIS LEONIDOVICH. Typed Manuscript Carbon, "Doktor Zhivago," with some typed corrections, Moscow, 1948. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> MILNE, ALAN ALEXANDER. Autograph Manuscript Signed 3 times ("A.A. Milne"), entitled "Peace with Honour: An Enquiry into the War Convention," 1934.<br>$30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Robert Frost"), titled "Gold for Christmas," 1952. $15,000 – 20,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Princezna Hyacinta</i>, 1911. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b><br><i>Les Maîtres de l'Affiche</i>, 5 volumes, Paris, 1896-1900.<br>$35,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job</i>, 1896.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Bleuze - Hadancourt Parfumeur</i>, circa 1899.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Lygie</i>, 1901. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894.<br>$30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Zodiac / La Plume</i>, 1896. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>The Seasons</i>, 4 panels on silk, 1900.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Aristide Bruant dans son Cabaret</i>, 1893. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Monaco / Monte-Carlo</i>, 1897. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Medee / Sarah Bernhardt</i>, 1898. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Confetti</i>, 1894. $40,000 to $60,000.
  • <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>SAXTON, Christopher. <i>The Travellers Guide being the best Mapp of the Kingdom of England and Principality of Wales</i>. London, [1583, but c.1716].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>VISSCHER, Claes Jansz. <i>Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici</i>. Amsterdam, Claes Jansz Visscher, [1611-1621 or later].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Decima Asie Tabula</i>. Ulm, Lienhart Holle, 16 July 1482.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>WIT, Frederick de, and Gerard VALK. <i>Orbis Terrarum Nova et Accurata Tabula</i>. Amsterdam, Gerard Valk, [c.1690-1700].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Astronomicum Caesareum</i>. Ingolstadt, Peter Apian, 1540.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>CASSINI, Jean-Dominique. <i>Carte de la Lune</i>. Paris, Jean-Dominique Cassini, 1787.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Geographicae enarrationis libri octo</i>. Argentoragi, 1525.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>[SAXTON, Christopher]. <i> [An Atlas of England and Wales]</i>. [London, Christopher Saxton, 1579].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> Commission des sciences et arts d'Egypte. <i>Description de l’Égypte</i>… Paris, Imprimerie impériale - Imprimerie royale, 1809-1828.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> CHURCHMAN, John. <i>To George Washington President of the United States of America this Magnetic Atlas or Variation Chart is humbly inscribed by John Churchman</i>. Philadelphia, 1790.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Tipus Orbis Universalis</i>. Vienna, Johannes Camertius, 1520.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LORIOT, A[uguste], [after] Nicolas LANE. <i>[Pocket globe]</i>. London, 65 New Bond Street, 1809.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>BLAEU, Johannes. <i>Grooten Atlas</i>. Amsterdam, Joan Blaeu, 1662-1665.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>INGEBORG BRUN, Emmy. <i>Mars efter Lowell’s Glober 1894-1914</i>. Denmark, [c1915].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LUTHER, Martin. <i>Der vierde Teil aller Bücher vnd Schrifften des thewren seligen Mans</i>. Gedruckt zu Jhena, Durch Christian Rödinger, 1556.
  • <b>Arader Galleries: Winter 2017 Auction. January 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Long-Billed Curlew, Plate 231. John James Audubon. First Edition Robert Havell Aquatint Engraving with Original Hand Color From <i>Birds of America</i>. London, 1827-1838. 37 1/2 x 24 3/4” sheet, 49 1/2 x 37” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Summer, or Wood Duck, Plate 206. John James Audubon. First Edition Robert Havell Aquatint Engraving with Original Hand Color From <i>Birds of America</i>. London, 1827-1838. 39 x 25 1/2” inches sheet, 49 1/2 x 37” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. John James Audubon. First Edition Robert Havell Aquatint Engraving with Original Hand Color From <i>Birds of America</i>. London, 1827-1838. 38 1/4 x 25 1/4" sheet, 50 x 37” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries: Winter 2017 Auction. January 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Great Cinereous Owl, Plate 351. John James Audubon. First Edition Robert Havell Aquatint Engraving with Original Hand Color From <i>Birds of America</i>. London, 1827-1838. 38 x 25” sheet, 50 x 37” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> A Flying Lizard, Surrounded by Beetles and Other Insects. Herman Henstenburgh, (Hoorn 1667 - 1726). Watercolor and gouache on paper. 7 x 10 1/4" sheet, 13 1/2 x 18 3/4" inches framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Marco Polo's Sheep (Ovis Poli). Joseph Wolf (1820 - 1899). Pencil and Watercolor, heightened with touches of white. Signed and dated Lower right "J. Wolf 1875". 11 1/4 x 15 1/4" sheet
    <b>Arader Galleries: Winter 2017 Auction. January 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Winter Scene in Kamchatka. Attributed to John Webber, R.A. (1751-1793). Oil on Canvas. 25 x 36 1/2" canvas, 30 x 41” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Winter River Scene. Cornelius David Krieghoff (1815-1872). Oil on Canvas. 16 x 20” canvas, 25 x 29” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Grand Canyon of Arizona from Hermit Rim Road. Thomas Moran (1837-1926). Chromolithograph. New York: Atcheson, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway System, 1913. Printed by American Lithographic Co. 31 3/4 x 41 1/2" sheet
    <b>Arader Galleries: Winter 2017 Auction. January 28, 2017</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Occidentalis Americae Partis... Theodore de Bry (1528-1598). Engraved Map. Frankfurt, 1594. 13 1/4 x 17 1/2" sheet, 24 1/2 x 29” framed
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Nouveau Monde. Nicolas De Nicolai (1517-1583). Engraved map. Amsterdam, 1602. 12 x 15 1/2"
    <b>Arader Galleries Jan. 28:</b> Typus Universalis Terrae... Petrus Apianus (1495-1552) & Reiner Gemma Frisius (1508-1555). Engraved map. Basel: Reisch, 1583. 8 1/4 x 12” sheet
  • <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Cassilly Adams, Civil War era watercolor on paper painting of the navy vessel upon which he was stationed: the U.S.S. Osage. $3,000 – 5,000
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Audubon, John James and John Bachman, <i>The Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: V.G. Audubon, 1854. 3 volumes. $2,400 – 3,400
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Roulstone, George. <i>LAWS OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE.</i> Printed and published by George Roulstone, Knoxville, (Tennessee), 1803. $2,000 – 3,000
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Heap, Gwin Harris. <i>CENTRAL ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC, FROM THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI TO CALIFORNIA…</i> Philadelphia/London, 1854.<br>$1,800 – 2,200
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> FDR’s personal copy of <i>The Great Smoky Mountains"</i> by Laura Thornborough. Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1937.<br>$1,500 – 1,800
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Latour, Arsene Lacarriere. <i>HISTORICAL MEMOIR OF THE WAR IN WEST FLORIDA AND LOUISIANA IN 1814 – 1815. WITH AN ATLAS.</i> Philadelphia, 1816.<br>$1,200 – 1,500
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> [Kennedy Autograph Signature] Kennedy, John F. <i>Profiles in Courage.</i> New York Harper & Brothers, (1956).<br>$1,200 – 1,500
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Sam Houston signed land document, granting Elias Riddle 100 acres in Bledsoe County, Tennessee "in the grassy cove…" dated February 22, 1828.<br>$1,000 – 1,200
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> "The State of Kentucky with Adjoining Territories" Map, by John Payne, engraved by John Scoles, published by John Low, New York, 1800. $500 – 700
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Civil War era letter and 4 carte de visites, including Confederate Generals. $300 – 500
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> 12 Bank of East Tennessee Pre Civil War Bills. $350 – 450
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> 2 Early Homeopathy books by Alva Curtis. $300 – 400

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