Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2011 Issue

The Once and Future Catalogue

Reese b-23

William Reese: Bulletin 23

The book catalogue for three centuries has been both the workhorse and thoroughbred of the rare book business.  Material discovered by dealers, later described and set into print would in time journey, in the company of other appointed titles, in well-wrought catalogues conveying a dealer’s best thinking.   For those anticipating such catalogues - expectant hands, primed by experience, would quickly plumb the incoming mail seeking to be first to locate a gem and respond, “I’ll take it.”  For those with the love and passion for printed history catalogues hold a special place in memory and experience.  They are a gift that, even if no discoveries and purchases ensue, enrich the collector, confirming their inclusion among the select that have, by many disparate avenues, found their way to the same holy place – the community that values the printed word.

The past two decades have brought change, much of it undermining the primacy of catalogues.  Listing sites and the rising importance of auctions have shifted attention from the dealer to the material and in that shift a portion of the catalogue’s power been overlooked.  What catalogues have long done and continue to do better than any other medium is to deliver a dealer’s judgment, for catalogues at their best, are culled and crafted collections that offer both material and insight into subjects, categories and niches of collecting.  The best-done catalogues illuminate and broaden fields, by inclusion and exclusion informing our understanding of collectible subjects.

That catalogues are less often issued is undeniable; that they are more needed, in my view, equally apparent.  They educate and inform - paving the path by which the fledgling collector becomes the inveterate acquirer.

This month we provide direct access to more than fifty electronic catalogues, the result of AE member efforts to bridge the widening gap between the world that was and the world it becomes.    I list here the names of participants in alphabetical order and at the end of this brief article a link to all of them.  Other catalogues will continue to arrive and they will immediately perch at the top of the gathering list – soon to slip down the list as others are posted.  The list is ever-renewing, worth reading now and following into the future.

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>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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