• <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species,</i> 1st edition, London, 1859. Original cloth, one of 1,250 copies. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> The Gentleman’s Magazine, or Monthly Intelligencer, 276 volumes, 1731-1894. With all the America maps, and the first British publication of the US Declaration of Independence. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Washington (John). <i>Eskimaux and English Vocabulary, for the Use of the Arctic Expedition,</i> 1st edition, London, 1850. Sabin 101906. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Churchill (Winston S.). <i>Ian Hamilton’s March [and] London to Ladysmith,</i> 1st editions, 1900. Signed by the author. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Wallace (Alfred Russel). <i>Is Mars Habitable?,</i> 1st edition, London, 1907. Extremely rare in the dust jacket. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Montes de Oca (Rafael). <i>Ensayo ornitologico de los Troquilideos o Colibries de Mexico,</i> 1st edition, Mexico City, 1875. With 12 hand-coloured lithographs of hummingbirds. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Agrippa (Camillo). <i>Trattato di scienza d’arme,</i> Venice, 1568. One of 50 lots from the Leon Paul Library of Fencing. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Clarke (Sir Alured, 1744-1832). Manuscript document signed as commander of British forces in Georgia during the American War of Independence, Savannah, 18 June 1782. £300 to £500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> [Slave Narrative]. <i>The Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black, a Fugitive from Slavery,</i> 1st edition, New Bedford MA, 1847. £300 to £500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Finaughty (William). <i>The Recollections of William Finaughty, Elephant Hunter 1864-1875,</i> 1st edition, Philadelphia, [1916]. One of 250 copies. £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Gold (Charles). <i>Oriental Drawings: Sketched between the Years 1791 and 1798,</i> 1st edition, 1806. With 48 fine hand-coloured aquatints. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> George II (1683-1760) & William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764). Manuscript exchequer document signed, 1757. £700 to £1,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2012 Issue

Seller Beware: Who really owns it?

1838maphawaii

A rare 1838 map of the islands from a little New England library, did it still belong to them?

Here We Go Again

Incident #2 came up less than a year later in the spring of 2012.

A good client on Oahu called me to say some missionary era Hawaiiana had come to market in Honolulu. Among the items offered for sale was an exceedingly rare 1838 map from the press at Lahainaluna. The map and the other pieces in the collection had once belonged to an early New England missionary to the islands.


My client gave me the name of the seller’s agent, who was not a professional in the antiquarian field and seemed like an unlikely choice to represent such early, rare and unusual items.

In addition to the delicious map the collection included one of the earliest Bibles printed in the Hawaiian language and a number of native artifacts. They were individually priced. We're talking six figures or more for the lot.


I contacted the agent and immediately I thought something was fishy and let it drop. A few weeks passed and I got a call back, was I still interested? Well, I thought, let’s at least have a look.

Within a few days I received a price list, many photos of the items and copies of documents. The documents did indeed verify that these items once belonged to an early missionary to Hawaii and were gifted at the beginning of the 20th century to a small town library in New England.

What is missing is the information on how they got from the library to hands of a private party. After I’d asked the seller’s agent several times for a bill of sale, gift letter or receipt and didn’t get any response, I called the library.


I spoke with the librarian who said she had worked there since 1981and did not know anything about the transaction. She was fairly abrupt with me and our conversation only lasted a few minutes. I left my name, number and email address.

A few hours later she emailed back and said that she had spoken with someone who had worked at the library before her time and that these items were once part of their collection, but she did not provide any details of how they came to be de-accessioned.


Then in the course of several more calls the story started to change: First the librarian didn’t have any recollection of this collection. Next she dug into it further and discovered that they once did own it.

Then it turned out some 30 or 40 years ago they “gave” all that old stuff away without so much as a receipt to someone close to the library to "make space."


The recipient of the items is a person they know well. The recipient is “a good person” who lives in their town and has kept these materials safely for all the intervening years. The recipient located a representative in Hawaii and put them up for sale.

The library, having discovered from my phone call that the old stuff that they gave away long ago was on the market and is said to be worth big bucks, convened an emergency meeting of the library trustees. They got a lawyer and the trustees decided, lo these many years later, that it’s their stuff and they want it back.

“We intend to recover our property,” the librarian told me.


Then came a variety of ex post facto rationales to justify their actions including their “fiduciary responsibility to the heirs of the original donors” and that the person who gave it away “did not have the authority to do so,”....well just use your imagination.


Then it was old junk, just taking up space. Now it’s a priceless treasure, and in their eyes it’s still their property.

Who is right? Who is the real owner of this material?

Ask Our AE Expert

My next call was to our own in-house expert, AE publisher Bruce McKinney, who is often asked to mediate in cases of this sort.

According to McKinney, “These kinds of situations are a lot more common than you might think.”

Often, he said, they involve goods that were stolen or misappropriated, but sometimes they also are about situations where something was thrown out, dumped in the trash, given away or changed hands with few or no records to substantiate the transfer.


Time passes, values increase and when the goods finally come to market there's an argument -- and even a battle in court -- about who is the rightful owner.

What these cases have in common is the causal agent is frequently some long ago librarian or keeper of the public files who thought they'd just clean out the junk that nobody used or wanted anymore.


Posted On: 2012-07-01 00:00
User Name: arader

Hi Susan

We have a vast stock of great material relating to Hawaii. Hope you will give Alexander Johnson a call in our SF gallery at 415 788 5115 an


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Extremely rare, signature of Patrick Ferguson, famed rifle inventor and British officer. $20,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> 1776 Battle of Sullivan's Island watercolor, attributed to James Peale. 11 1/2 x 17 3/16. $10,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> John Hancock-signed commission of Ensign Aaron Butler, 1777. $8,000 to $16,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston, Perpetrated in the Evening of the Fifth Day of March 1770… London, [1770]. $7,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Original manuscript of 1761 Massachusetts Bay Tax Act. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Wine receipt for Washington's Council of War, May 24, 1778, leading to Monmouth Battle. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [Siege of Boston]. “A Muster Roll of The Company Under the Command of Captain Josiah King in Colonel David Brewer’s Regiment, to the First of August, 1775.” $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Congressman Brigham describes George Washington's Mount Vernon estate and its slaves. $3,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [British Army. Uniforms and Organizaton] "Gen[era]l. Disposition of The King’s Troops with the Number, Uniform and Colonel [of Each Regiment, 1763]. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Revolutionary era paper money, continental and state (lot of 55). $2,500 to $5,500.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Rare 1782 loyalist military passport from Charleston, SC. $1,500 to $3,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [Stamp Act.] Rare 1765 stamp for 2 shillings and 6 pence. $1,250 to $2,500.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.
  • <b>Gonnelli:</b> Books & Graphics 26th – 27th – 28th May 2020.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 27th, Travel and exploration.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 27th, Musical books, autographs & printed music.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 26th, A collection of Piranesi’s etchings. € 50 to € 16000.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Books from XV to XX Century.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Hansel and Gretel and other stories by the brothers Grimm illustrated by Kay Nielsen. € 1000.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Artists’ books from Dalì, Marini & others.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions