Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2010 Issue

Too Good to be True

Wp-1862-b

It looks good from a distance


By Bruce McKinney

On eBay a month or so ago I ran across a Currier & Ives print of West Point, an original folio print printed in 1862. The print was interesting, its size unusual. It was described this way:

Original 1862 Currier and Ives Lithograph West Point. Original Lithograph Currier and Ives of U. S. Military Academy, West Point (from opposite shore). Great condition Measures 18" W X 15" H. Writing on Lithograph. "Entered according to act of Congress 1862 by Currier and Ives, in the Clerk's office in the district court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

Another similar Lithograph from West Point 1862 is selling for $2,300 on line. "New York, Published by Currier and Ives 152 Nassau St."


In the Currier & Ives Catalogue Raisonne by Gale Research [1984] its number 6945 described as "View of West Point" . Publisher: CC. [the work of Charles Currier, brother of Nathanial Currier]

Four images were provided, none showing the entire piece. I've been buying on eBay for seven years and become accustomed to accurate descriptions and sellers who are quick to remedy problems although they rarely occur. I sailed on into this transaction expecting more of the same.

The lithograph was offered with a starting price of $250 and I didn't bid. Later I bought it on a Buy-It-Now basis for $275.

When it arrived the frame was loose in the box, surprising for a glass item to be casually packed. I could hear broken glass and decided nevertheless to open the box, assuming and expecting if the print was undamaged I'd keep it. I usually reframe images anyway and invariably replace used den glass. The glass was therefore unimportant.

The image I found had scratches, whether from broken glass irrelevant, because the image was neither original nor even anything serious. It was a very poor copy and obviously a modern reprint.

I then contacted the seller through eBay and was asked to submit a claim to the Post Office as the package was insured. I did as requested, obtaining a form for Domestic or International Claims with the Postal Service, which I then sent to the seller [who was the ensured party]. He responded saying that I would be paid when he was paid. I then filed a claim with eBay. There were two issues:

The image was a fake. The seller could claim he didn't know this but I found a printed statement to that effect on the back of the image. This was easy to see because the tacks securing the back were loose as if they had been recently removed and reinserted. Opening the back took perhaps 30 seconds.

The second issue was that the frame was barely packed. A few sheets of crumpled paper was all the protection provided and the box much larger than the framed image. No one ships a glass frame this way.

In filing a claim with eBay I initially found it hard to understand how to proceed. My son Tom however could see what I couldn't. Under HELP there's an option for RESOLUTION CENTER. I started there. With some trial and error I was eventually offered a phone number that was good for 15 minutes. I called and found that while eBay was careful about its time it wasn't careful with mine. I was on hold for a long time.

It was then explained to me by someone, who seemed trained in calming frayed nerves, that I would have to wait seven days to allow the seller to resolve the issue. I could then contact eBay again, re-explain the problem and fax a copy of the Post Office claim form I had obtained. I made a note on my calendar.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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