Buying in the House of Mirrors
- by Bruce E. McKinney
Two years ago, on eBay, an item was offered that looked interesting. It was “Guide Book to Lake Mohonk – New Paltz, Ulster Co., N. Y.” and its date marked it as very early in the history of the Smiley family’s development of the Lake Mohonk resort that became over the next four decades the majestic attraction it is today.
The listing was spare but mentioned “many photographs throughout the book” and a start price of $14.95. I initially assumed the images were printed but a 1968 RBH dealer record for Goodspeed’s referenced “mounted images.”
This book shows up in Goodspeeds catalogues three times; in 1933 and again in 1935 for sixty-five cents and once more in 1968 for $10.00 with the reference to mounted photographs.
A subsequent search of the OCLC found 15 libraries, most of them the major collecting libraries, that have a copy.
I bought that copy for $37.50 and later concluded it’s quite rare and important as an Ulster County [New York] collectible. And I wrote about it suggesting it was worth $1,500
Recently another copy was posted to eBay. This one had a $1,500 price and the option to make an offer. I offered $500 and was rebuffed. I subsequently increased my offer to $750 and a day or so later received the following reply:
“I think $1,000 is a fair evaluation, based on Bruce McKinney’s $1500 assessment of this book two years ago on Rare Book Hub.”
I thought so too but considering the selling site was eBay I expected the price would be less. Not so apparently if the cataloguer reads Rare Book Monthly.
As to its actual value I’m not sure but I do know that during the 1870-75 period there was an interesting category of small run publications that included pasted images. They were all to some extent experimental and quickly become a bridge to printed images.
This is one of them.
I’m happy to have another copy of this book.
So what is its value? In my view $1,500
Here is a link to the story I wrote two years ago.