Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2004 Issue

The Old Booksellers of New York and other papers<br>By William Loring Andrews

Wla5

none


Mr. Bradburn dealt largely in secondhand law, theological and medical books, and his shop was a veritable boon to impecunious students of theological seminaries and academies of medicine and to briefless attorneys and counselors at law. Books of a less utilitarian character, but possessed of more charms for the bibliophile, also found their way to his shop; and the patient searcher for rarities might at any moment stumble upon one tucked away among the volumes clad in prosaic legal calf which lined his shelves.

When first I knew this veteran of the old book trade he was a pleasant-faced, elderly man, with an air of prosperity and contentment about him, in puzzling contrast to the surroundings of his dingy, contracted, but typical old bookshop. The book business prospered so well with Mr. Bradburn that he was able to make investments in such choice Manhattan real estate as Central Park and Fifth Avenue lots, the "unearned increment" of which in course of time made him well-to-do.

There is not much ozone about old books, nevertheless dealing in them appears to be conducive to longevity. C. S. Francis, to whom we have still to refer, died at the age of eighty-five; and I have had lately the gratification of sending Mr. Bradburn my congratulations upon his attainment, on April 5th, 1895, of his ninetieth birthday, in good health and the full possession of his faculties.

One of Mr. Bradburn's near neighbors was John Pyne, a "man of many friends," who, we are told, resembled Joseph Sabin in this, that he never smoked tobacco or used alcoholic liquors. Mr. Pyne removed from Nassau Street to the corner of Broadway and Astor Place. Not meeting with the success he had anticipated, he returned to his former stand, but found that many of his old customers had drifted away. He finally abandoned the second-hand book business and entered the Register's office of the City of New York, where he remained until his death, in 1894.

In Nassau Street, between Fulton and Ann Streets, was the bookshop of T. H. Morrell, at one time the rallying place for antiquarians interested in old New York and Revolutionary history. Mr. Morrell was more conspicuous as an "extra illustrator" than as a dealer in rare books, although he had acquired a knowledge of and trafficked to a considerable extent in the latter. His pronounced penchant was for books on the drama, New York City, and the American Revolution. Although the books he "extra illustrated " were for sale when completed— unless executed to order—he lavished upon them all the skill and taste of an experienced and enthusiastic amateur. His knowledge of the class of prints to which he confined his attention was thorough, and he inserted in his books the choicest and rarest that he could procure. When necessary he had them repaired and restored by George Trent, that unequalled adept in the art of cleaning, mending, and inlaying books and prints, and then consigned the volumes to the skillful hands of the binder, William Matthews.

A lasting monument to Mr. Morrell's zeal and industry is the copy of Dr. Francis's "Old New York," which he illustrated and extended to nine volumes. This book finally came into the possession of Mr. J. H. V. Arnold, and at his sale was purchased by Joseph Sabin for Robert L. Stuart at a cost of $230 per volume. It contains over twenty-five hundred prints, water-color drawings and autographs, and among the latter are either letters or signatures of all the mayors of New York up to the time the book was completed. It is by far the most extensively illustrated copy of any book upon New York local history, and will probably never be equaled, for there are no prints which have become so scarce as those which relate to old New York. The lithographic plates in Valentine's "Manual," which earlier collectors affected to despise and hesitated to use, have become Hobson's choice with the "extra illustrator " of this fair city of Gotham of today.

Mr. Morrell had always betrayed strong dramatic proclivities, and he finally donned the tragedian's garb. His formal entrance to the stage was made in the character of Cardinal Richelieu, and he selected Philadelphia as the scene of the first and, as I am informed, last public exhibition of his histrionic ability.

A few steps further up Nassau Street (No. 140) brought the book-hunter on his rambles to "Old Hollingsworth's," who afterward migrated to the east side of Broadway, near Great Jones Street. He dealt in prints and old magazines; and although his shop was a mere cubby-hole, it was well for the book or print collector to make in it occasionally a tentative cast of his drag-net.

Around the corner, in Fulton Street, was the store of Timothy Reeve and Company, who dealt exclusively in imported rare and standard books, which they sold at retail and to the trade generally throughout the country. They relinquished business in 1866, and were succeeded by the present firm of S. B. Luyster and Company.

Allan Ebbs was located on the west side of Broadway, near Fulton Street. His specialty was high-class and handsomely bound English books. In 1870, with his family, he took passage for Europe, and was lost on the "City of Boston."

C. S. Francis should have had an earlier place in these sketches. He came to the city in 1826 and opened a store at 189 Broadway, near Dey Street. From there he removed to 252 Broadway, under the famous old Peale's Museum. For many years his store was the headquarters for men of letters and lovers of books. His brother, D. G. Francis, who succeeded him in business, although advanced in years, has only within the last few months relinquished the management of the oldest established bookstore in this city.

Mr. C. S. Francis published the first American edition of "Aurora Leigh "; and the writer has in his possession Mrs. Browning's note in relation to Mr. Francis's acquisition of the copyright, which reads as follows: "Having received what I consider to be sufficient remuneration for my poem of 'Aurora Leigh' from Mr. Francis, of New York, it is my earnest desire that his right in this and future editions of the same may not be interfered with." This warning to trespassers is prominently displayed in the edition published by Mr. Francis in 1857.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> London, 1859. First Edition. Letter Addressed to Dr. Ogle and Envelope Signed by Charles Darwin. $278,000 to $333,000.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Ortelij, Abrahami. <i>Epitome Theatri Orbis Terrarum.</i> Antuerpiae: Exstat in Officina Plantinian, 1612. Rare Edition. $5,560 to $6,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> González de Mendoza, Juan. <i>Histoire du Grand Royaume de la Chine, Situé Aux Indes Orientales.</i> [Genève]: 1606. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Chapman, Conrad Wise. <i>Landscape of the Valley of Mexico.</i> Oil on wood. Signed and dated. $26,120 to $30,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Thesaurus Exorcismorum...</i> Coloniae, 1608. Collection of Six Works of the Most Important Franciscan Exorcists of the 16th Century. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Saggio delle Transazioni Filosofiche della Società Regia.</i> Napoli, 1729-1734. With a Map of California by Eusebio Kino. $1,120 to $1,440.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Scherer, Heinrich. <i>Delineatio Nova et Vera Partis Australis Novi Mexici, cum Australi Parte Insulae Californiae...</i> Münich, ca. 1700. $850 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Santacilia, Jorge Juan-Ulloa, Antonio de. <i>A Voyage to South America. Describing at Large, the Spanish Cities...</i> London, 1760. $890 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Limborch, Philippi. <i>Historia Inquisitionis Cui Subjungitur Liber Sententiarum Inquisitionis Tholosanae...</i> Amsterdam, 1692. $1,340 to $1,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Castro, C. - Campillo, J. - Cumplido, I. - Lauda, L. - Rodríguez G. <i>Mexico and Its Surroundings.</i> Méx, 1855-56. $5,000 to $5,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Medical Gazette. Periodical of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico...</i> México, 1864 - 1943. Pieces: 169. $1,340 to $1,560.
  • <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</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. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions