Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2015 Issue

Thinking about Selling

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I have suggested to collectors for years that they plan to dispose in their lifetimes.  Collections in the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera fields now fall into the traditional form of known, well documented material or, as is the case increasingly, into a more sprawling, complex form that is built at least in part on ephemera, letters and other previously unknown material that have no pricing history.  My first two collections fell clearly into the traditional form, my current collection into the latter.

 

Over the past month I’ve been trying to understand how my current collection should be organized.  I’ve been doing this for years but never moved beyond basic categories such as books, pamphlets, broadsides, ephemera, paintings and objects but these categories have proven to be inadequate because they are too broad.

 

If an auction house or dealer is looking at the material their most basic parameters will probably be quality, value and audience.  In looking at how a complex collection of often-inexpensive material will be lotted it seems likely this material will be grouped to reach whatever the target lot value is.

 

The organization of this collection can be seen in three different lights, divided by type, subject and/or place.  The printed catalogues will be based on a single format, the online catalogues flexible enough to permit the contents to be reframed by any of these criteria.  Because this collection includes about 5,000 items the online reframe-able version will probably more useful.

 

For this collection of the history of the Hudson Valley [in the State of New York] I’ll start by listing the categories that seem apparent.

 

Type:

 

Postcards

Letters

Broadsides

  Currier & Ives Prints

Ephemera

  Kingston Theatre Broadsides [1850-60]

Money

Bound Newspapers

  An extensive run of early Poughkeepsie Journals [1804-1818]

Photography

  A history of Poughkeepsie fires

  Early photographic postcards of fires, train wrecks and boat sinkings

  Shipbuilding in Newburgh

Books

  Directories

  Maps & Atlases

Paintings

Objects including furniture

 

By subject

 

Slavery

Railroads

A collection of the watercolors of Frederick Copley [160 in color, 60 drawings]

The imprints of Joel Munsell, Albany printer [500+]

The imprints of Paraclete Potter, Poughkeepsie [30+]

The Hudson River

 

 

By place

 

Ulster County

  Rondout

  Kingston-Rondout

  Shawangunk

  Highland, Lloyd, Milton and Marlborough

  New Paltz

 

Dutchess County

  Poughkeepsie

 

Orange County

  Newburgh

  West Point

 

Columbia County

 

Greene County

 

Albany [the New York State capital]

 

The Hudson River

 

I’m thinking I will do most of the cataloguing with the assistance of experts.  I cannot imagine that any auction house will accept this tedious undertaking.  The paintings are of course valuable as is the furniture and some of the manuscript material.  Such items will fit into the auction house cataloging model.  But some of the most fascinating material is ephemera and will require a determined effort to illuminate.  This seems like something I, or any collector in similar circumstances, might undertake.

 

Such are some of the challenges that collectors of ephemera and the debris of history may face.  I see it as an appealing challenge.

 

In any event, I have time.   I’m planning to publish catalogues of the collection in the coming years and then send the material into the rooms as unreserved sales when I’m 75.  This gives me 7 years to pull this altogether.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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