• <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Music<br>Online Auction<br>2-13 December 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> J. Brahms. Important series of 44 autograph letters signed, to Friedrich Chrysander, mostly unpublished, 1869-1894. £80,000 to £120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> J. Sibelius. Remarkable collection of 22 letters signed, to Werner Janssen, 1934-1957. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> [Mozart, W.A.] F. Zeffirelli. Stage set design for the Covent Garden production of "Don Giovanni", signed, 1963. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> J. Rutter. Autograph composing manuscript of "A Ukrainian Prayer", 2022. £3,000 to £4,000.
  • <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> The Corner-stone Document of Irish Freedom. 1916 PROCLAMATION OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC. £140,000 to £180,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Joyce's Modern Masterpiece, in its one-and-hundredth Year. Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare & Co. 1922. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b>A Request from Mr. Joyce. Joyce (James). Autograph Letter Signed to 'Dear Mr [Thomas] Pugh,' dated 6.8.1934. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dun Emer Press: Yeats (Wm. Butler). <i>Stories of Red Hanrahan,</i> 8vo Dundrum 1904. Signed by Author. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Binding: <i>Specimens of Early English Poets,</i> 8vo Lond. (For Edwards, Pall Mall) 1790. £500 to £700.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Harry Clarke: Walter (L. D'O.) <i>The Years at the Spring,</i> An Anthology of Recent Poetry. 4to New York (Brentano's) 1920. Special signed limited edition. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kipling (Rudyard). <i>Works,</i> including Writings, Novels, Poems etc. Bombay Edition, 31 vols. roy 8vo Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1913-1938. Signed by Author. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dunraven (Edwin, Third Earl of). <i>Notes on Irish Architecture,</i> Ed. by Margaret Stokes, 2 vols. lg. folio Lond. 1875-1877. Castle Hackett copy. £1,500 to £2,400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kirby (Wm.) & Spence (Wm.) <i>An Introduction to Entomology,</i> 4 vols. 8vo Lond. 1822. With hand-coloured plates. £200 to £300.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Heaney (Seamus). <i>Death of a Naturalist,</i> 8vo Lond. (Faber & Faber) 1966 First Edition - Third Impression. Signed, & inscribed on title page 'Seamus Heaney’. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Glasgow Printing: Homer - <i>Iliad and Odyssey,</i> 4 vols. in 2, Glasgow (Robert & Andrew Foulis) 1756-1758. £1,0000 to £1,500.
  • <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Two first editions by Adrian Spigelius in a Sammelband: <i>De humani corporis fabrica</i> from 1627 and <i>De formato foetu</i> from 1626. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Splendid coloured copy by Frederick De Wit, <i>Atlas maior,</i> Amsterdam, 1705. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by Marco Ricci, <i>Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris prestantissimi Experimenta,</i> Venice, Orsolini, 1723-1730. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by MicheleMarieschi, <i>Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus,</i> Venice, 1741. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Magnificent album by Louis-Leopold Boilly, Collection de dessins, calques et acquerelles, 1822. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Rare musical score by Gioachino Rossini from 1858. €6,500 to €7,500.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2015 Issue

If you want to have collectors . . .

239e0e51-9a67-4128-9efa-4e5cc3ddf966

If you want to have collectors of books manuscripts, maps and ephemera collecting today and into the future this community will have to have time, interest and money.  Education plays an important part as well but many collectors are self-educated so I don’t feel it’s an absolute requirement, in fact I think collecting is sometimes a compensation for having less education.  Taken as a group [or category] collectors are complex, many of them intensely interesting, a fair number of them over-the-top eccentrics.  They are also the bedrock of collecting in the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera field and without them there is no field or future.

 

But changing fundamentals are undermining the emergence of the next generation of collectors.  The middle class, the principal source of new collectors, has experienced stagnating wages and higher costs for education and other essential services now for almost thirty years.  In the past it was enough to have steady income, interest, and knowledge.  These three ingredients permitted a would-be collector without many resources to embark on a collecting career.  Today sufficient means are more important and also more difficult to come by.

 

For this there are many causes.  Many jobs have been exported and many more will be.  The fundamental nature of a developed economy has shifted from sweat to intellectual labor, from assembly line to development teams.  A small portion of the American community has facilitated this shift, even led this transition.  And as a consequence brute force now matters less.  This places the American economy in transition at a time when the very premise that big government can solve big problems is under attack.  The timing is bad for the challenge for America and Americans is to develop new skills and new perspective and this takes money at the government level and it’s in perpetually short supply because we have significantly reduced taxes on wealth.

 

For much of the 20th century the United States employed progressive tax rates to pay for infrastructure, fund investments on behalf of the nation and reduce taxes for the majority of Americans.  Beginning in the 1980’s however tax rates on all Americans were cut but the most substantial cuts were at the highest income levels.  In time, the money Washington was no longer receiving could no longer be spent.  Financial obligations shifted to the states and to local governments that then cut services.  School days were shortened and many other educational services curtailed or eliminated.  In other words, at the very moment that more government investment has been needed less has been provided while reports now confirm that the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is intensifying to 19th century robber-baron levels.  Less understood is that while a few are quickly accumulating millions, even billions, others are losing their hope and their chances,   

 

 

In the United States today tax rates on earned income for many in the middle class are higher than they are on investment income.  Hence a teacher earning $70,000 may be subject to a marginal tax rate of 25% while an investor earning a million dollars on long-term capital gains pays 23% rate.  The larger story is that capital has been gaining relative strength in its battle with labor.  Said another way, capital is easily employed at a good rate of return while labor has been forced to compete in a world that has more job seekers than jobs.  The net of this is that the value of labor is essentially unchanged over the past three decades while the value and importance of capital has continued to increase.  Said another way, the wealthy are becoming wealthier while they who receive paychecks often see only small increases.

 

For collecting this trend predicts that the rarest and best examples in all collectible fields will continue to find financially capable collectors to buy them.  But for the less important and often obscure material that has always been the first enticement for new collectors and the backbone of everyday sales for most dealers a much larger audience will be needed to absorb what is becoming a much larger supply that dealers, libraries and collectors will increasingly sell.  In the cross hairs on the one side, stock to be disposed and on the other, the emerging new audience, the future of the field will be determined.  The material will come out in torrents.  Waiting expectantly for their opportunity we need an army of new collectors. 

 

In some sense it’s a race against time and this is a shame because collectors cannot be summoned from thin air.   They are not simply born; they are groomed.  For some; their background, intelligence and first introduction to the field in youth, in middle age leads to serious collecting.  But this is a torturous path made infinitely more complex by the Internet that increasingly presents thousands of collecting possibilities and paths to pursue them complete with bright lights and big discounts.  Not so long ago the rare and used book and stamp dealers in small towns had virtual monopolies for promoting collecting in their fields.  And they did so to great effect.  But not so much any more.  These shops have since mostly disappeared into eBay and Abe Books and their owners gone to Florida for their well-earned early-bird specials.  The next generation of collectors will have to get to book collecting by other routes.  And to get to that point they first need to be exposed.  Hence the anguish about the declining number of old, used and rare bookshops and the often expressed lament, where are the new collectors?   The local bookshop has been the place where the new collector and their first collected material first embraced.  It now occurs at a dispassionate remove with UPS and Federal Express delivering the goods if not the charm that was once a key ingredient in the introduction and seduction associated with first purchases.

 

The decline in bookshops has not of itself signaled an immediate decline in book collecting which is a field where the hook first implanted often does not ensnare the collector until they are greying at the temples.  But this decline will come as fewer new collectors emerge from the old model.  The next generation will have to emerge from other routes.  And it’s possible.

 

There is some evidence that collectors are simply rerouting their impulses via the tools available on the web.  They are buying more at auction and they are buying at auction much earlier than collectors once did.  And where once single copies offered at shops with succinct explanations were saleable at randomly established prices today there are online sellers that easily and instantly confirm importance and price.  Collectors increasingly know to search for this information and dealers have come to expect collectors to do this.  These are the collectors who have entered the arena. 

 

But where are the others and by what routes will they join this collecting community?  Their paths to introduction are less clear and whether they will have the resources to invest significantly in collecting is also uncertain.  And this will be terribly important.  Collectors emerge most often from the middle class, a middle class that in America was built on progressive tax rates that reallocated from the top to aid the poor and the middle class.  We aren’t doing this so much now.  On the political right it has been decided that wealth is the engine of prosperity while on the left, they believe as they have for the past 100 years, that the strength of the middle class is the strength of the nation.  But these days we are living in the shadow of Ronald Reagan and in an era of very low taxes on wealth.  As outcomes of this policy increasingly take hold our infrastructure rots and our public schools decline.  And correspondingly, the interest in the collectible printed materials that the middle class once bought is also declining.  There are many reasons for this, not only tax policy, but tax policy is the most important reason for the decline in book collecting.  Reversing this may take decades.

 

The wealthy never needed these tax cuts.  They make their money not because they are lucky but because they are smart.  But for the middle class who need more tax breaks and lower rates to pay their mortgages and raise their children there is wage stagnation and reduced local services.  And somewhere in among the millions affected by these regressive tax policies there are hundreds of thousands of the next generation of collectors, proverbial buds on the tree that may never flower.

 

So that’s the predicament.  The wealthy are our best customers but there will not be enough of them to absorb all the material that will come to market.  What’s needed is a stronger middle class and to restore that strength we need to significantly increase the tax rates on wealth.  Can we do it?  I don’t know.  But I do know that for the collectible book field to prosper we’ll need to restore collecting as a middle class prerogative.

 

If not, the market will continue to strengthen at the top and weaken at the bottom.  And we should be able to do better than that.  


Posted On: 2015-07-01 12:20
User Name: LDRB

A superb insight to the realities of collectors and collecting. Can we do it? I don't know. These two comment are really the keys.
I would think that the ones who benefit the most are the ones to be most motivated to provide answers and develop solutions. Who are these?
Two organizations come to mind when I think of this question, not necessarily in this order:
1) Trade organizations starting with ILAB to IOBA,
2) Auction Houses from Christie's to Ebay.
Can these groups jointly form a task force or think tank, develop ideas and most importantly, make them successfully happen?
The current situation in Greece comes to mind when a solution for the broader good cannot be found.
Perhaps Bruce, you might be the "chair" or ambassador representing the "new collector" group and invite key leaders from these "benefit groups" to participate in a conference?
Why not?
Duncan McLaren
Lord Durham Rare Books


Posted On: 2015-07-03 11:21
User Name: don11cs

Thanks for letting us know the "wealthy never needed these tax cuts"! Your economic history and tax policy analysis is sophomoric. Stick to collecting.


Posted On: 2015-07-03 21:31
User Name: AE244154

They didn't and I don't.

Bruce McKinney


Posted On: 2015-07-04 14:04
User Name: don11cs

Now that you put it that way, of course, you must be right. That's exactly what the middle class and future collectors needs, higher taxes on success and more government spending. Fantastic recipe for economic growth! In that case I think I'll invest in a rare book shop in Greece and Venezuela. (and by the way, nothing preventing you from paying more if you think you not taxed enough or you could cut out the middleman and not charge fees for your services. That would encourage collectors).


Posted On: 2015-07-06 15:38
User Name: willie1874

How does Mr. McKinney think that taking money from the private sector where rare books are purchased and putting it into the government sector is going to increase the sale of books? The government isn't going to use the money to buy rare books of course. And will more government tinkering with the economy finally help the middle class when it has failed over the past 50 years? To continue to hold this belief is a delusion. There are cultural changes, as well as economic changes, in the United States which have led to a decline in new book collectors along with the decline of many other traditions.
Craig V. Showalter
Book Collector


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop<br>Catalogue 195<br>Magnificent Books & Manuscripts<br>Free on request</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Benjamin Franklin on Electricity. Inscribed presentation copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Frederick Douglass. Letter on civil war and the end of slavery.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Carleton Watkins. A major American West photo album.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Einstein. General Theory of Relativity inscribed by Einstein.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> The Federalist. Rare deluxe thick-paper copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Emma Johnston. Archive of 350 salt prints by a Victorian female photographer.
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KEPLER INVESTIGATES PLANETARY MOTION. KEPLER, JOHANNES. 1571-1630. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> THE FINAL ILLUSTRATION OF POOH AND PIGLET IN THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GUTENBERG BIBLE LEAF. $60,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ORTELIUS, ABRAHAM. 1527-1598. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. "Christmas Dinner at Maxime de la Falaise's" $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GERSHWIN WORKING MUSICAL MANUSCRIPT PAGE FROM <i>OF THEE I SING.</i> $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GILBERT, W.S. Original typed manuscript for <i>The Story of the Mikado.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> FINAL TYPED MANUSCRIPT FOR V.C. ANDREWS CLASSIC <I>FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.</I> $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ANNOTATED TYPESCRIPT DRAFT FOR KIPLING'S FINAL MOWGLI STORY. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> PRESENTATION COPY OF GUYS AND DOLLS. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> CHARLES DICKENS' CHINA INKWELL FEATURING A BEE READING, FROM GAD'S HILL. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> NELSON'S BATTLE PLAN FOR TRAFALGAR. $200,000 to $300,000
  • <b><center>Leland Little Auctions<br>The Signature Winter Auction<br>December 3, 2022</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 3:</b> Brinkley, Francis. <i>The Art of Japan,</i> Boston, 1897. The very rare complete Shogun edition. $4,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 3:</b> Sun Tzu. <i>Art Militaire des Chinois, ou recueil d'ancins traités sur la guerre composés avant l'ere chrétienne, par différents généraux chinois,</i> Paris, 1772. First European edition. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 3:</b> First English Translation, St. Augustine's <i>Of the Citie of God: With the Learned Comments of Io. Lod. Vives…,</i> London, 1610. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b><center>Leland Little Auctions<br>The Signature Winter Auction<br>December 3, 2022</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 3:</b> Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866). Five <i>Nippon</i> Folios on Japan, 1832 [and] later 19th century [and] 1931. $1,000 to $2,000.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 3:</b> Mason (George Henry). <i>The Punishments of China, Illustrated by Twenty-Two Engravings: with Explanations in English and French,</i> London, 1808/1817. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Leland Little, Dec. 3:</b> Hobbes, Thomas (of Malmesbury). <i>Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Common-wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil,</i> London, “1651,” ca. 1680. $800 to $1,200.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books<br> December 8, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Friedrich Justin Bertuch, <i>Bilderbuch für Kinder,</i> Weimar, 1792, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1822. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster, <i>Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula,</i> Basel, 1552. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster & Hans Holbein, <i>Typus Cosmographicus Universales,</i> Basel, 1532. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Franz Unger, <i>Die Urwelt in Ihren Verschiedenen Bildungsperioden,</i> 16 tinted lithographed plates, Weigel, 1858. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Charles Varle, Wiliam Warner & Andrew Hanna, <i>Plan of the City of Environs of Baltimore,</i> Baltimore, 1801. $8,000 to $12,000.

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