Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2010 Issue

An Update on the AED

Aed-7-29

A deepening history


By Bruce McKinney

Without any notice or clamor the AED, the Americana Exchange Database of material offered at auction, described in bibliographies and/or included in important dealers' catalogues, has reached 2,500,000 records. Just a month ago, writing an update on June 29th the count had just clicked past 2,400,000. This database, conceived a decade ago and under active development since early 2002, is now taking strides to become a seamless record of material that has been valued, in both senses of the word [appreciated and priced], over the past one hundred and fifty years. Almost 90% of the records in the AED are descriptions and transactions. This is the history of the "cash" market.

Our goal is to clarify through the creation of an eventually complete record of material at auction, how often items were offered and if sold at what price. The pricing as we go further back, even adjusted for inflation and changing conditions, will only generally suggest valuation. As important is what auction houses did and did not select to offer for that too has changed. Our goal is to make it possible for the diligent observer to understand not just changing values but also changing tastes. If this suggests that relative interest, appeal and value are constantly in flux you understand my meaning clearly. Subjects come and go. Enthusiasms wax and wane. In real terms prices go up and down. Our goal is to create transparency for all who are interested to understand valuation as more than the average of the "birds on the power line" approach that listing sites provide today. This said, it takes nothing away from the valuable information they provide to suggest that there is more to the story, particularly for the vast majority of collectible works on paper that only ever fleetingly appear on any listing sites. Over the next eight months we will continue to edit the current tranche of 1.4 million 20th century records and then, over the following year, add another 1.2 million records. These additional records create some interesting possibilities.

We will soon add a "probability of reappearance calculation" to material in the AED which will begin as a Beta and become increasingly confirmed as our estimates of reappearances and the actual sightings are compared. Of course this statistical approach will, by its very existence, somewhat alter probabilities. Owners of material that we rate as extremely rare, coming to the market perhaps only once in a decade, may be prompted to short circuit the odds by offering theirs immediately. In time we'll be able to anticipate this.

We are also going to introduce lifetime tracking of material of interest. The goal is to make it easy for the novice, enthusiast and professional to casually express interest in specific material and thereafter be notified, until and unless cancelled, when such material appears at auction or in Books for Sale. These expressions of interest will be maintained in a new database that will be accessible to members who will no doubt in time rely on these censuses of interest to decide what to post and how to price. Once posted, all persons and institutions who have expressed interest will be notified and links provided to the item offered. The seller will not be told the identities of interested parties but they will know when and how many notifications have been sent. In this way we hope to induce collectors, dealers and institutions to identify their interests. For rare material it may be years before a copy emerges. When it does we'll inform them. Access to upcoming auctions is free. Access to the AED is a subscription service but interested parties do not need to be continuously subscribing to receive notifications. Their expressions of interest, once recorded, will be maintained on our servers until cancelled. The market will in time react to these preferences and fulfill their requests.

The collecting of books, manuscripts and ephemera has never been more complex or the subjects more rewarding. With just a little effort today it is increasingly possible to know more about almost any subject than the geniuses and savants of earlier ages learned over their lifetimes. It all begins by laying down the predicate, that is conditioning one's mind to see material not just in the present but also through time - moving into and out of alignment with subjects and interests. From such an understanding exceptional, certainly unique, collections are possible for all with the enthusiasm and the intellectual chops to place a personal stamp on a collecting area. To get from here to there the seamless record of material offered at auction is the essential piece. This is why we added 100,000 records this past month and it is why we will continue to do this long into the future.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Published Half Plate Ambrotype of a North Carolina Confederate Officer. $2,000 to $4,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two 19th Century Books Pertaining to Canada's Red River Settlement. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Two Books With Fore-Edge Paintings of British Architectual Landmarks. $400 to $600
    <b>Leland Little: Important Fall Auction. September 22, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), "Torte a la Dobosch" from <i>Wild Raspberries</i>. $1,000 to $3,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Keith Haring (American, 1958-1990), <i>Pop Shop II,</i> One Plate screenprint in colors, on wove paper, 1998. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Leland Little, Sep. 22:</b> Thomas Rowlandson (British, 1756-1827), Twenty-Two Prints from the <i>Tours of Dr. Syntax</i>. $500 to $1,000
  • <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>

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