Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - August - 2010 Issue

Say "Ephemera!" from Marc Selvaggio, Bookseller

Selvaggio133

Ephemera! From Marc Selvaggio, Bookseller.


By Michael Stillman

Marc Selvaggio, Bookseller, has issued a new catalogue, Say "Ephemera!" This is Selvaggio's fourth ephemera catalogue, and it is filled with material that is uncommon, unusual, and often most entertaining. Ephemera is a great place to collect if you want to possess material that is rare yet priced as if it were common. These old flyers, pamphlets, advertising circulars, trade catalogues and the like are inexpensive, though rarer than the typical "collectible" first edition that can cost thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. This is a great place to start collecting, or build a collection on a workingman's budget. Here are some suggestions to start.

Give Ferdinand Borges credit for creative thinking. He developed a Ponzi scheme before Charles Ponzi did. Item 117 is a 1902 promotion for his Consolidated Ubero Plantations, The Rubber of Commerce. A Treatise for Investors. Ubero was going to produce rubber on its Central American plantations, along with pineapples, coffee, and other items. Borges did own some land, but it was not producing any of the promised goods. What it was producing was money - for Borges. The money he took in for selling bonds went to his sales agents and himself, rather than to the plantations. All told, Borges took in $2 million when that was a lot of money before being caught and convicted of fraud and larceny. Priced at $165.

Item 35 is a promotion for one of the greatest cars, or whatever, ever devised: Amphicar - The Sportscar That Swims. This may not be what we normally think of as a sports car, if features such as speed, power, and sleek looks are common attributes of such designation. Nevertheless, this was the only car ever devised that functioned as a boat too. You could literally drive this thing into a lake and start driving it around in the water. Ultimately, it wasn't a very good car or boat, and so the Amphicar Corporation folded in 1965, after just five years in production, but these rare marvels have loyal followers today. With so many stories of cars being swept away in floods, having one of these might not be such a bad idea. $35.

The Huppmobile had a longer run than the Amphicar, but its fate was ultimately the same. It was introduced by company founder Robert Craig Hupp in 1909. Hupp moved on, but the company prospered for two of its three decades of life. Expansion was great during the teens and much of the 20s, but Huppmobile had some trouble deciding where to fit in, and then with the Depression, sales tumbled. The company held on through the 30s, finally throwing in the towel in 1940. Offered is a brochure from its early days, circa 1910, where the company proclaimed, "...we believe the Hupmobile to be, in its class, the best car in the world." Item 135. $200.

Item 296 is a 1915 publication from the Angier Chemical Co.: A Study of the Therapeutics of Petroleum Oil. Angier's emulsion, made from petroleum, "acts like mucus," always a selling point. It cured TB, bronchitis, GI problems, and "wasting diseases of children." So remember, those oil-coated birds and turtles you see in the Gulf are actually healthy animals. $45.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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