Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2011 Issue

Why doesn't this happen in my town?

Too good to be true

Too good to be true

Space is apparently at a premium in Jerusalem, and it has gotten so bad that the National Library on the Hebrew University’s Givat Ram campus has been caught throwing away important books with the drek.  God knows, rare book rooms are more mausoleums than museum these days, and it’s true that some libraries are so uncomfortable selling old books they sometimes literally give them away.  I have to say, however, that this is not kosher [traif].  Further, reports that dealers lined up over night and that at least one armored truck was called are, as of this writing, unsubstantiated.

On July 21st, the Jerusalem Post wrote a story about the National Library at Givat Ram donating excess books to the public.  They described the books as “eighty percent” in English, and lord knows, every day fewer English speakers are reading books.  After all, if you can read it on your iPad, why bother with the original texts?

Once the giveaway was underway, library staff were confronted by an irate scholar.   A representative of the library with “beyste bay zayn ponem” [egg on his face] then defended the selection for de-accessioning as “a completely normal process used by libraries around the world.” However, no other libraries have rushed to confirm that they too toss out their old and sometimes highly collectible books.   One suspects the vast majority of libraries prefer to keep their rare books, but if de-accessioning, they’ll hold their noses and sell.

In tossing the material out, the library evoked memories of the infamous gang of three, Groucho, Harpo and Chico.  These “books were given to the public, and if the library had more than three copies, or if the books did not belong to the library’s three core areas of research – Judaism, Israel and Islam,” we tossed ‘em.   A quick check of the AED suggests the library’s focus is very narrow or, expressed in numerical terms, 0.005% of the total [17,853 of 3,277,756] records in the AED: 

Judaism 280

Judaica 8,025

Israel 7,710

Islam 1,838 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 1805 TN Supreme Court Book, John Overton and Hugh White Opinions. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> TN Lunsford Bramlett Archive, incl. Polk White House Invitation, 8 Items. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Civil War Archive, incl. Gen. Bate on Death of Polk, Capture of Nashville. $2,000 to $2,400.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 5 Dickens 1st Ed. Books, incl. Edited by Author. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Charles Dickens, 5 Christmas Books, 1st Eds. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 2 Slave Documents, Nashville TN & North Carolina. $700 to $900.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 3 Maurice Sendak Signed Items, incl. Nutcracker, Pierre. $500 to $600.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 7 Phillip Roth Hardcover Books, incl. Author Signed, 1st Eds. $500 to $550.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 6 Kurt Vonnegut Hardcover Books, incl. Author Signed, 1st Eds. $400 to $500.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 3 Edward Gorey Items, incl. Print + 2 Books. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Josef Albers, INTERACTION OF COLOR, 1963. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Henri Matisse Jazz Portfolio for MOMA, 1st Ed., 1983. $600 to $800.

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