Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Selling History - Moving on Down the Highway

Hyco

History You Can Buy - fresh thinking on the challenge of building an audience

Jim Croce said or perhaps I should say sang “Movin’ me down the highway” in 1973 and we have been hearing it ever since on radios and in elevators.  Seth Kaller and John Reznikoff got the message and heard something in the song most other booksellers have not.   Many, and its probably a safe assumption most, booksellers have been closing shops.  Seth of Seth Kaller, Inc. Historical Autographs and John Reznikoff of University Archives have partnered with Stephen Rockwell [he’s a distant relative of Norman] Desloge, owner of six Rockwell Galleries in Fairfield County, Connecticut. They are converting one of the galleries into a mixed media shop in Westport to sell collectible history, much of it on paper.  It’s an experiment with a good chance of success.  The shop will feature a combination of objects, documents, ephemera and books, in other words the new quartet of mixed media collecting.  Bookshops may be closing but shops that mimic the combination of materials that next generation collectors are acquiring stand a good chance of success.

The facility is 1,250 square feet.  Rockwell’s framing operation uses 20%, and the balance- gallery space formerly showing contemporary art- has been given over for the display of appealing historic offerings.  Rockwell staff will explain the objects as well as assist with framing decisions.  When questions exceed the staff’s knowledge, they will link the prospective client by phone or email with Kaller’s or Reznikoff’s offices, depending on ownership of the particular item.

Mr. Rockwell-Desloge, interviewed for this article, suggested he views the symbiotic relationship of collectible objects and art and framing as important to both sides.  He believes both will benefit from the collaboration.
   

Bookstores, for many years, have been in decline, their single concept too often not strong enough to pay the rent and justify the time and money invested.  The notion of frame-able material on the other hand is positioned close to the bull’s eye of the new collecting paradigm that is subject-centric but scattered with respect to media.  Photography, original art, documents, baseball gloves and bats, a general’s baton, and his love letters are all aspects of the ‘complete’ approach that new style, deep and compelling collections increasingly encompass.

This venture is in some sense a marriage of convenience; framers looking for more work and sellers of history looking for a wider market.  It is a marriage that makes sense.  Whether, in the most logically constructed retail model, framing is equal to content will need to be confirmed.  It could be.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions