Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2004 Issue

So you want to be a Wise guy


Thomas J. Wise in 1905, at the peak of his prestige.

What Mr. Wise and Mr. Foreman left behind has been carefully studied and the rather limited number of things they forged and, in other cases legitimately issued, now comprise a universe of forgeries and collateral material that can be deemed complete at about 500 or so items. For the collector of this material the emphasis becomes acquisition, a tremendous simplification over the "identification" model that requires collectors to either do substantial work personally or place great confidence professionally in a dealer for advice.

This means that a collector can focus on obtaining the material rather than identifying it, the ongoing curse of many book collectors and collections. In other words, we are today left, in the material of Thomas J. Wise, with an almost perfect collecting opportunity so long as the collector is not troubled with the fact that many of the essential items are forgeries. They are in fact real forgeries and have become rare in their own right.

Attached to this article is a simple search screen for a data source we recently added to the Americana Exchange Database (AED). It is one of Scribner's rarer catalogues: No. 131 published in 1945, "Nineteenth Century Pamphlets with an Appendix of Wiseiana" a catalogue of "an almost complete set of the late Thomas J. Wise's forgeries." This is a small catalogue, 74 items described in 30 pages. The default is "Show me all the records." To see them simply select SUBMIT. To search for a specific term or phrase in the author or title field first select the field and then enter a search term.

For those who pursue this material, this catalogue is another item to find. For those who enter these waters for the first time, I'll send you on with a quote from the great book collector Mae West: "I used to be Snow White but I drifted." The same can be said for Thomas Wise. If you go down this road stay on track.

Searched in: Author Title Show me all records

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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