Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2012 Issue

Las Vegas:  A Potemkin Village

Laura Minor and Christy Shannon at Baumans

On the crowded planes fired from distant places, rifle shots of people determined to have fun and heading for the Las Vegas bulls eye - McCarran Airport, are warming up in expectation of becoming overheated once they reach the strip.  The flights are the dead spot that precedes the hoped for euphoria.  Whether the draw is the gambling, the girls or adventure, everyone has a reason for going, an objective.   Even the prissy sorts that will soon parade their “I’m not doing this or that” are part of the tapestry.  Howard Hughes, it turns out, had a good eye for depravity and we, today’s recruits, will spill our credit cards in obeisance whether we gamble or not.  We are heading into an America with its hair down.

So it was recently that I visited Vegas, the trip the prize for my wife reaching a signal level of years.  Her wish was to bring in our families for a memorable long weekend and two weeks ago we did just that.

As a person good with numbers the probabilities for me outweighed the possibilities so I used my free time to visit old and rare book dealers.  What I found were three companies working their opportunities, each in different ways.

I first visited Bauman Rare Books, the Philadelphia based upscale booksellers with locations on the upper east side in Manhattan and on the strip in Las Vegas at the Gallery – The Shoppes at the Palazzo.  Their facility here is serious, the shelves lined with the visually appealing as well as the historically significant.  The presentation is very “A” scale and the audience, more often than not, the well-to-do cardiologist, psychiatrist, broadcast anchor, businessman or movie star.  They are located at 3327 Las Vegas Boulevard, Suite 2856 and keep open-every-day Vegas hours, that is open 5 days a week from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm and on Friday and Saturdays 10:00 am to midnight.  The audience tends to change dramatically from week to week and so inventory is airlifted in to put a first of Common Sense in front of lawyers, Freud’s firsts in front of psychiatrists, and rare cookbooks in front of chefs.  It is altogether a smart way to sell books, customizing the inventory and making it visible along the route that the world’s talent takes in its circumnavigations of the Las Vegas bubble.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
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    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
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