Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2017 Issue

Collections Evolve: Ulster County in New York State

Change is coming!

Many years ago, I began to collect books of the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State.  The focus was the printed word both because it was around and somewhere between “un” and “underappreciated.”  Dimes bought old books then and probably would have bought handfuls of ephemera although I doubt I’d even heard the collecting term.

 

But times change and what was once “un” is now relevant if not important.  The differences today are two; increasing availability and visibility that together suggest relevance of material beyond books as part of increasingly focused collections.  Books, it turns out, are increasingly only the foundation.    

 

Beyond books, there are also manuscripts, maps and ephemera. 

 

As well, book collections these days increasingly share shelf space and wall area with paintings that have long been appealing but difficult to find and value.  The internet, while transforming rare books, manuscripts, maps, and ephemera, it turns out, have also transformed the market in and for paintings.  And as I have written before, burgeoning searchable inventories of a variety of collectibles invite, if not require, the interested to narrow their focus, something most collectors are wont to do but often have not understood - that their original focus now includes many more possibilities than they imagined and that they can collect successfully with a narrower focus that ten years ago was modelled on more general collecting. It turns out that “narrowing searches” is close to essential because there is so much more material available.

 

Even so, such collections can grow to grand, if not glorious scale.  My own collection is an example.  With about 5,000 items I have had to narrow but even as I do the possibilities have increased.

 

Somewhere along the way paintings became a possibility.  I think smart collectors long considered art, be they prints, lithographs, drawings or paintings as logical, if exotic acquisitions.  I’m of the more pedestrian breed, the collector of books who has adjusted as I learned of different categories of possibilities.

 

About twenty years ago I began to acquire both regional furniture and paintings and over the past decade have spent far more on wood and paint than I have on paper as I had acquired many of the important books and was looking beyond the printed word to what else was possible.  What I found were images and I have since pursued them.

 

I Initially purchased Currier & Ives prints and later material from other printmakers.  In time I pursued paintings, focusing on views of Ulster and nearby counties.  Today images, mostly paintings, structure the collection. 

 

A few weeks ago I bid on three paintings at Shannon’s Fine Arts Auctioneers in Connecticut.  All relate to the Hudson Valley and two of them Ulster County.

 

The first by Daniel Huntington is a painting dated 1899, a very large image [6’ 9” wide x 4’ 9” high] of Lake Mohonk in Ulster County, New York.  The painting seems to reimagine the mountain setting prior to it being developed by the Stokes and Smiley families.  Mr. Huntington painted a similar scene of Lake Mohonk in 1872 in a much smaller format [24” wide x 12” high].  Emotionally I’m attached to the place and found the painting, estimated $30,000 to $50,000, appealing.  The hammer was $48,000.

 

The second is a painting by Hendrick Dirk Kruseman Van Elten of Berry Grounds, Ulster County, N. Y.  He was active in the United States from 1865 and owned a home in Ellenville, Ulster County.  The painting appears to date to about 1875.  The hammer was $8,000.  The scene is probably looking south from Ellenville with the Shawangunk Mountains rising on the left.

 

The third painting, by Charles W. Tice, is of the Thomas Powell, the 19th century side-wheeler steamship, on its inaugural run on the Hudson River between Newburgh and New York in 1846.  Painted that year, it was, for more than 170 years, in the family of Homer Ramsdell who was the original co-owner of this boat, with Thomas Powell.  The hammer was $13,000.

 

These three paintings have now arrived and will be hung by Chris Faiss who reorganizes the collection every year or so.

 

Well, these paintings are in the house and I’m including images of the paintings and some of the walls I expect may be their future homes.  We’ll see. 

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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