• <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>December 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Melville (Herman). <i>White Jacket; or, the World in a Man-of-War,</i> 1st edition, London, 1850. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Bracton (Henry de). <i>De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae,</i> 1st edition, 1569. Ex libris Sir Daniel Dun (c.1545-1617). £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Edgar (Thomas). <i>The Lawes Resolutions of Womens Rights,</i> 1st edition, 1632. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>December 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Donne (John). <i>Poems,</i> 3rd edition, 1639. Ex libris Sir Geoffrey Keynes (1887-1982). £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Mandeville (Bernard). <i>The Fable of the Bees,</i> 1st edition, 1714. Rare inspiration for the Wealth of Nations. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Honter (Johannes, & others). <i>De Cosmographiae rudimentis,</i> Basel, 1561. Ex libris Georg Joachim Rheticus (1514-1574). £5,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>December 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Lincoln (Abraham). Military commission signed, Washington, 1864, and related documents. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Faraday (Michael). Iron filings diagram on waxed blue paper, c.1850. £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Felixmüller (Conrad). <i>ABC,</i> 1st edition, Dresden, 1925. One of 10 hand-coloured copies. Ex libris Eduard Rosenbaum (1887-1979). £3,000 to £5,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>December 11, 2019</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Kelmscott Press. <i>The Order of Chivalry,</i> 1893. One of 225 copies; presentation copy from Sydney Cockerell. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Anna Livia Plurabelle,</i> 1st edition, New York, 1928. One of 50 special copies on green paper. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec. 11:</b> Orwell (George). <i>Homage to Catalonia,</i> 1st edition, 1938. £2,500 to £3,300
  • <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Rare Books & Literature Sale<br>December 10, 2019</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Archive of almost 500 Quaker letters written between leading members of the Society of Friends in Ireland between about 1770 and 1830. €10,000 to €15,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Heraldic Grants to the Delaval Family of Northumberland Manuscripts: 9 May 1761. Patent of Stephen Martin Leake. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Unique Manuscript – Miniature Book by Seamus Heaney. Holograph manuscript copy by Heaney of his poem <i>Mad Sweeney’s Praise of Trees</i>. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Rare Books & Literature Sale<br>December 10, 2019</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Yeats, Mangan and John McCall, with an ALS Yeats [W.B.]. <i>The Wanderings of Ossian and other Poems.</i> London, 1889. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Heaney (Seamus). <i>Toome</i>, illustrated by Jane Proctor. National College of Art and Design 1980. Extremely rare Heaney title limited to 15 copies. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Young (Ella). <i>Celtic Wonder Tales,</i> illustrated by Maud Gonne (four colour plates and other decorations). 1910. Signed by Gonne with an original sketch. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Rare Books & Literature Sale<br>December 10, 2019</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> The Yeats Brothers “Jack & William” Yeats (Jack B.) RHA (1839-1922). An attractive small pencil portrait of his son Jack Yeats, aged perhaps 10-12, drawing of a bearded man on rear [with] a second drawing. €1,000 to €1500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> 18th c. Manuscript Volumes on French Peerage Manuscript: “Recueil de tous les actes concernant les Ducs & Pairs de France… Depuis l’an 900 jusqu’en 1660.” €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Churchill (Winston Spencer). <i>The River War, An Historical Account of The Reconquest of the Soudan.</i> 2 vols. roy 8vo L. 1899. First Edn. €800 to €1200.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers<br>Rare Books & Literature Sale<br>December 10, 2019</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Important Scientific Association Presentation Copy - Tyndall (John). <i>Heat considered as A Mode of Motion…</i> 1863. €600 to €800.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Receipt Signed by Chippewa Chiefs Document dated 24 May 1845 signed by five “Chippewa chiefs on the River Thames.” €400 to €600.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Dec. 10:</b> Bury (Lady Charlotte). <i>The Three Great Sanctuaries of Tuscany, Valombrosa, Camaldoli, Laverna.</i> Lg. oblong folio L. (J. Murray) 1833. First Edn. €250 to €350.
  • <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> AN EARLY DUTCH POCKET GLOBE ATTRIBUTED TO WILLEM BLAEU, AFTER C.1618. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> BLAEU, Johannes (1596-1673). £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> BLAEU, Johannes. <i>Theatrum Statuum Regiae Celsitudinis Sabaudiae Ducis, Pedemontii principis, ... pars prima, exhibens Pedemontium ...</i> Amsterdam, 1682. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> DUDLEY, Sir Robert, self-styled Duke of Northumberland and Earl of Warwick. <i>Arcano del Mare.</i> Florence, 1661. £500,000 to £700,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> The Mainz Psalter: <i>Psalterium Benedictinum cum canticis et hymnis,</i> for Bursfeld use. [Mainz:] Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer, 29 August 1459. £5,000 to £10,000.
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Single-Owner Collection Featuring Works by Andrew Wyeth. December 6, 2019</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 6:</b> Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), <i>Bearded Man in a Velvet Cap with a Jewel Clasp,</i> 1637.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 6:</b> Rembrandt van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669), <i>Christ Before Pilate: Large Plate,</i> 1635-1636.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 6:</b> Andrew Wyeth (PA, 1917-2009), <i>Breakup</i> with bronze life casts of the artist's hands, 1994.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 6:</b> Andrew Wyeth (PA, 1917-2009), <i>In the Orchard</i> Study, 1972.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

AltaVista RIP

Altavista98

Alta Vista during its heyday.

This is not a story about books. There... now that I have lost most of my readers, I can write about whatever I want. This is about how access to information changes. Once slowly, changes now flash by as quickly as you can unwind an 8-track tape. And yes, there are comparisons to bookselling.

The 1990s began with small bookshops trying to fight off the large chains. It ended with the chains trying to fend off internet sellers. It all happens so fast. A few become large, the rest either disappear or find a niche where they can outperform the giants. There really isn't much other space. Evolve or die applies to bookselling as surely as it does to dinosaurs. And to the internet. We are entering another time of change for bookselling, but that is an issue for another day. For now, we will take a look back at an early giant of the internet. RIP, AltaVista.

My own introduction to the internet came in the second half of the 1990s. There were lots of alternatives if you wanted to search that vast universe of information out there you never could access before. An internet search was filled with excitement then. Basically, there were two types of search sites. There were the directories. Frequently compiled by hand, they placed links to sites under topic headings. Yahoo had the most notable one, but there was LookSmart, Overture and thousands of smaller ones, the bigger ones trying to extract a fee from the sites they listed, the others hoping to get by on advertising. Does anyone ever use a directory any more?

The second way to search the internet was through a search engine. There were lots, each with its own formula. America Online (AOL), which was the largest online service provider in the era of dial-up, and their largest competitor, CompuServe, also provided search. So did early dial-up rival Prodigy. Non-service provider search engines were all over. Yahoo had a search engine as well as a directory. And there was Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, MSN, Snap, Ask Jeeves, HotBot, Inktomi, Webcrawler, and many others I have forgotten. But, the best of the lot was AltaVista. Most of the others were web portals, as Yahoo and AOL still are today. They provided news and everything else, search being just one feature. Not AltaVista. They offered search, that's all, but were the best at it. Sound familiar? Whatever their formula, and each search engine had its algorithm, AltaVista provided the best matches. I don't recall anyone ever turning AltaVista into a verb. I never said I was “Altavista-ing” anything, but I AltaVistaed a lot of topics in the late 1990s.

AltaVista was born in 1996. It was the child of Digital Equipment Corporation, another great tech name from the past. It moved on to Compaq in 1998 when DEQ was sold, then to CMGI. Remember CMGI? Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, was originally named CMGI Field. That's how big CMGI was. The Patriots never played a game on CMGI field. By the time construction was completed, the internet bubble burst and CMGI could no longer afford the naming rights. Those rights moved on to safety razor manufacturer Gillette. What an ironic backward twist of technology that was. In 2003, AltaVista moved on to Overture, which itself was taken over by Yahoo later that year. It has remained there ever since. At least until July 8, 2013. That is when Yahoo shut it down. Rest in peace, AltaVista.

At the turn of the millennium, one of my jobs involved finding websites, directories and search engines to post links to my employer's website. Search engines might not know your website existed if you didn't tell them. One day in performing my AltaVista searches for sites I didn't know, I came across a new search engine with a funny name. It was called “Google.” Obviously, you can guess the rest of this story. AltaVista had turned itself into a web portal like Yahoo and AOL, Lycos and Excite, its owners believing there was a greater audience for these multi-purpose sites. Google was like the original AltaVista. Even today, while Google offers much more, its home page remains a simple search page, just as it was when I first stumbled across it. AltaVista later returned to simplicity, but by then it was too late.

Why did Google become such a huge success, eventually crowding everyone else either out of the business or to minor status? Today, Bing, successor to Live, successor to MSN, still competes. Parent Microsoft can afford to compete. It is a distant second. If someone else still competes, it escapes me. AOL uses Google searches; Yahoo uses Bing's searches. Truth be told, in recent years AltaVista just used Yahoo/Bing searches. Google swamped everyone else. How? They used a formula that determined which sites were most popular, rather than those which just matched your search terms most often. I didn't know about algorithms at the time. What I did notice was that I got better matches, better even than AltaVista. I switched. I don't recall anyone else I knew knowing about Google then. I had just stumbled upon it and found it significantly better. Obviously, in the years ahead, just about everyone else had the same experience. It was noticeably better, enough so to switch. Microsoft and Bing offer a capable search engine, but they have never been able to match that first Google experience, no matter how much they tell us their searches are better. Maybe they are better as claimed, but they just don't seem that different. You need a reason to change.

What does this have to do with bookselling? Not much directly. It's just a reminder of how quickly things can change. The heyday of AltaVista in many ways matched the heyday of internet bookselling. The internet opened customers all over the world to every small town bookseller. Dozens of book listing sites appeared. The Advanced Book Exchange (now AbeBooks), Alibris, successor to the pioneering Interloc, and Amazon were the largest and still are. Most of the others either disappeared or soldier on in irrelevancy, though European ZVAB, later arrival Biblio, and a few local sites are still significant. However, none can perform quite as they did when internet bookselling was new. Buyers were accessing this incredible new medium for the first time and filling their shelves with books they never thought they would find. Meanwhile, the price of listing was incredibly cheap, often just a small percentage of the sales price if, and only if, the book sold. Today, listing is more expensive, the number of books listed competing for attention far greater, and sales harder to come by. It's no longer easy. The bookseller needs to adapt. Adapt or perish. Adapt or become AltaVista.  


Posted On: 2013-08-01 00:00
User Name: PeterReynolds

I used AlltheWeb.com a.k.a. Fast.no . It was better than Google in Google's early days. It had a larger number of results and I don't think Google had as good previewing of sites. See http://web.archive.org/web/20061227221338/http://fastsearch.com=63&amid=1383


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s: English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations.<br>Online now through December 10
    <b>Sotheby’s, now to Dec. 10:</b> Adam Smith. <i>The Wealth of Nations</i>. First edition, 1776. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, now to Dec. 10:</b> William Shakespeare. <i>Comedies, Histories, Tragedies</i>. 1632, the Second Folio. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, now to Dec. 10:</b> The Saint Albans Chronicle.] <i>Here begynneth a shorte & a breue table on these cronycles.</i> Westminster : Wynkyn de Worde, 1497. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s: English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations.<br>Online now through December 10
    <b>Sotheby’s, now to Dec. 10:</b> E.H. Shepherd. “A Very Grand Thing – The Trouble at Owl’s House”. Original ink and watercolour. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, now to Dec. 10:</b> Charles Darwin. <i>On the Origin of Species</i>. First edition, 1859. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, now to Dec. 10:</b> William Blake. <i>Illustrations of the Book of Job.</i> 1825 [but 1826]. £10,000 to £15,000.
  • <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> ALBUM AMICORUM OF SCHELOMITH FLAUM. Autograph album containing drawings, autograph quotations and signatures from over 47 contributors, India, Europe, America, Israel and elsewhere, 1923–50. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> FLEMING, Ian (1908–1964). <i>Live and Let Die.</i> London: Jonathan Cape, 1954. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> HISTORY OF CINEMA. Animal Farm (1954), an animation archive from the Halas and Batchelor studios, [c.1954]. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> LE HAY, Jacques – [Charles de FERRIOL]. <i>Recueil de Cent Estampes representant differentes Nations du Levant...</i> Paris, 1714. [With:] <i>Explication des cents Estampes.</i> Paris, 1715. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> THE LAST JUDGEMENT, historiated initial 'A' on a leaf from an Antiphonal on vellum illuminated by Nikolaus Bertschi [Augsburg, first quarter 16th century]. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> VALTURIUS, Robertus (1413–1484). <i>De re militari.</i> [Verona:] Johannes Nicolai de Verona, 1472. £170,000 to £250,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Macbeth: A Tragedy.</i> London, 1673. FIRST SEPARATE AND FIRST QUARTO EDITION. THE CHARLTON HESTON COPY. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. <i>In Our Time.</i> Paris, 1924. FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> VERNE, JULES. <i>A Journey to the Centre of the Earth.</i> New York & London, 1872. FIRST EDITION, RARE AMERICAN ISSUE, with Scribner & Welford cancel title. $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> PLATO. <i>Timaeus</i> [AND] <i>Critias</i> [from Ficini's 1484 Opera]. A LANDMARK OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. $80,000 to $120,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Dr. Seuss, pen, ink & watercolor, calendar illustration, Thomas D. Murphy Company, 1937. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Sur la Terrasse,</i> gouache & pencil, cover for <i>Vogue,</i> 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Dana Gibson, <i>The Coming Game, Yale vs. Vassar,</i> pen & ink, for <i>Life</i> magazine, 1895. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>H.A. Rey, color pencil, charcoal, watercolor & gouache, for <i>Rafi et les 9 singes,</i> 1939. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ernest H. Shepard, pen & ink, for Kenneth Grahame’s <i>Bertie’s Escapade,</i> 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>The Biggest Star Measured So Far,</i> ink & wash, original <i>Peanuts</i> cartoon, published 1961. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Saul Steinberg, <i>12 Biographies, A to B,</i> pen & ink with collage, final illustration in his book <i>The Labyrinth,</i> 1960. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Jo Mielziner, <i>A Streetcar Named Desire,</i> watercolor, graphite & gouache, first color study for the award-winning 1947 production. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Nevermore,</i> watercolor & ink, for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1973. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>I Should Worry,</i> watercolor, gouache & graphite, cover for <i>Judge</i> magazine, 1914. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Edward Gorey, <i>Swan Lake, Hunters/Siegfried, Van Rothbart,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, costume designs, 1975. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>Sketch for Madeline,</i> gouache & ink. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies.</i> The second Impression. London, 1632. £120,000 to £180,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> [GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von (1749–1832)]. <i>Das Römische Carneval.</i> Berlin and Gotha, 1789. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> [SHAKESPEARE, William]. Manuscript part for a contemporary analogue to <i>Henry IV,</i> part I, n.p. [perhaps Oxford or London], n.d. [c.1580s – before c.1620]. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von (1749–1832). <i>Faust. Ein Fragment... Ächte Ausgabe.</i> Leipzig: Georg Joachim Göschen, 1790. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark. As it is now Acted at his Highness the Duke of York's Theatre.</i> London, 1683. £60,000 to £90,000.
    <b>Christie’s London, Dec. 11:</b> [GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von (1749–1832)]. <i>Die Leiden des jungen Werthers.</i> Leipzig: Weygand, 1774. £15,000 to £20,000.

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