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>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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