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

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>The Railroad,</i> etching, 1922. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Sheet of Studies with Men in Hats and a Saloon Keeper,</i> pen, ink & pencil, circa 1900-05. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Night Shadows,</i> etching, 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> John Marin, <i>Woolworth Building, No. 2,</i> etching & drypoint, 1913. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Charles Demuth, <i>Tulips,</i> watercolor & pencil, 1924. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Under Control,</i> gouache, ink & wash, circa 1907-10. $30,000 to $50,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JESSE JAMES. Autograph Letter Signed on the attack at his home which maimed his mother and killed his nephew Archie, 6 pp, March 23, 1875. THE MOST IMPORTANT JESSE JAMES LETTER EXTANT. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> THE LETTER THAT ARRIVED TOO LATE: An important letter from Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant across the battlefield at Cold Harbor, June 6, 1864. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> DAVY CROCKETT. Autograph Letter Signed on his political philosophy and his dispute with Andrew Jackson, "at home Weakley County," August 18, 1831. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> GEORGE WASHINGTON. Letter Signed to Colonel Richard Gridley, the first engineer of the American Army, Morris Town, January 9, 1777. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> SCOTT FITZGERALD. <i>Tender is the Night.</i> FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED to H.A. Swanseid. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS. <i>Tarzan of the Apes.</i> FIRST EDITION. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> J.R.R. TOLKIEN. <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.</i> FIRST EDITION. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NATHANAEL WEST. <i>The Day of the Locust.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed to director Richard Wallace in the year of publication. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> FRANCIS PICABIA. Archive of 17 Autograph Letters signed to Jennie Thiersch on art and life, 1948-1951. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JOHN HANCOCK. Autograph Letter Signed to his wife Dolly from the Continental Congress, 4 pp, Philadelphia, March 10-11, 1777. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NIGHTGOWN WORN BY CHARLOTTE CARDEZA DURING THE TITANIC DISASTER AND RESCUE. $40,000 to $60,000

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