Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2011 Issue

Using Reference Works Can Help Enhance Value

Zoschak1

Instructor Vic Zoschack, Tavistock Books, selects his references for bibliography class.

Vic Zoschak of Tavistock Books (ABAA) in Alameda, CA is well known in the book world as a dealer in Dickens and a specialist in other rare and collectible authors writing in English. He also has a growing reputation as the go-to guy for bookish reference works.

 

His own collection of bibliographies and related works exceeds 2,000 volumes. He’s one of the few you’ll encounter to wax lyrical on the National Union Catalog (NUC) which even in microfiche takes up a vast amount of space and requires its own semi- antique reader. In keeping with his enthusiasm and hoping to pass it on to the less meticulously inclined, Zoschak hosts a once a year free informative all day workshop on using and citing bibliographic references for, as the saying goes, “fun and profit.”

 

This year AE was fortunate enough to be on the guest list for the event held at his East Bay shop along with eight others including dealers, would-be dealers, catalogers, Vic’s own assistant-in-training and the young son of one of the participants taking videos for the benefit of those who might find the information potentially useful in future youtube snippets.

 

“Time is money,” says Zochak with conviction, and indeed this premise, which might seem obvious, is not a common sentiment in the world of books. His attitude is it’s better to use your time researching and writing up descriptions of your inventory in the most attractive, convincing and authoritative manner than to hope that fortune and destiny will deliver that signed first of the Wasteland hidden beneath the stack of old AARP magazines at the neighborhood yard sale.  That’s a round about way of saying you’ll make more money if you throw your lot in with the bibliographers, and if you can’t be one yourself, acquiring at least a basic familiarity with some of the terminology and techniques can add multiple 000s to the value of your offerings.

 

His presentation is constructed around familiarizing the participants with the elements that contribute to “value,” i.e. edition, condition, availability and desirability and urging them to avoid customers bearing the old family bibles, text books and religious tracts in favor of putting the time and energy into research and becoming knowledgeable (or preferably expert) in writing clear descriptions that inspire confidence.

Zoschak says he never cites a reference unless he has personally checked it himself and told several amusing incidents where less ethical dealers had swiped citations off the internet only to be asked to provide a Xerox of the reference that they clearly did not know, possess or consult. Conspiratorially he told us that one of the good parts about doing a thorough reference check was the possibility your title would not appear in any of the standard works. In which case, you could confer the coveted “not in” and cite all the places it wasn’t, thus adding by implication to rarity and desirability of your book.

Rare Book Monthly

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    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
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    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
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