Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2005 Issue

Charles Heartman: Unintended Lessons

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Six Hundred Pamplets, Broadsides, and a few Books written in the English Language


By Bruce McKinney

Most people will not know who Charles Heartman was. He was a bookseller. He also conducted auctions of books, manuscripts and ephemera primarily, although not exclusively, in the Americana field. He had a bookstore at 129 East 24th Street in New York and conducted the majority of his auctions at 612 Middlesex Avenue in Metuchen, New Jersey. His recorded career extended from 1913, his first catalogue, to 1952, his last. He came into the auction field when material was available and stayed until the money to purchase evaporated as the depression took hold. In the late 1930's he moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi and continued to issue dealer catalogues until the end of his life. The full story of his life now sits mainly in the boxes of records and receipts his daughter gave to the University of Southern Mississippi in the 1970's. This story remains to be told.

In 1915 he issued a priced catalogue titled Six Hundred Pamphlets, Broadsides, and a few Books written in the English Language and Relating to America issued prior to the 18th century. In fact there are 606 items. It is a catalogue that can not be duplicated today. About a quarter of the items find no answering commercial references in our database of a million records.

The man was not shy about pricing and there are numerous examples of material that he priced in the stratosphere that others priced at ground level. He even managed to sometime make Dr. Rosenbach look conservative. On the other hand, many of the items in this catalogue are extremely rare if not necessarily extremely important. His rule clearly was "when in doubt, price high."

He offered "A Sermon preached before His Excellency John Hancock,..." and asked $27.50. Four years later a copy was sold in one of the Huntington dispersals for $5.50 and Lathrop Harper shortly thereafter offered a copy for $10.00. It would be 1970 before a copy would be offered at a price higher than $27.50. In 2003 Waverly sold a copy for $161. Mr. Heartman was ahead of the market.

That said, he was often "with the market." He offered a copy of the American Military Pocket Atlas [1776] that was carried by English officers during the revolution. His copy was $40. Rosenbach offered a copy for $25.00 in 1911 and another copy went unsold at the Marshall auction in 1914 but this did not deter him from offering his copy for a higher price. Goodspeed's, in 1928 offered a copy for $50 and it would be three decades before the asking price would reach $100 [Eberstadt]. Auction realizations today run between $10,000 and $15,000. He was right but he was early.

Generally the material in this catalogue isn't found for sale on the net so it's interesting to find Richard Alsop's "A Poem; sacred to the Memory of George Washington," and published in Hartford, available three times on ABE and all for the same price of $200. Mr. Heartman would have sold you his copy for $6.00.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>The Railroad,</i> etching, 1922. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Sheet of Studies with Men in Hats and a Saloon Keeper,</i> pen, ink & pencil, circa 1900-05. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Night Shadows,</i> etching, 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Edward Hopper & His Contemporaries:<br>Making a Modern American Art<br>June 30, 2022
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> John Marin, <i>Woolworth Building, No. 2,</i> etching & drypoint, 1913. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Charles Demuth, <i>Tulips,</i> watercolor & pencil, 1924. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann June 30:</b> Edward Hopper, <i>Under Control,</i> gouache, ink & wash, circa 1907-10. $30,000 to $50,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JESSE JAMES. Autograph Letter Signed on the attack at his home which maimed his mother and killed his nephew Archie, 6 pp, March 23, 1875. THE MOST IMPORTANT JESSE JAMES LETTER EXTANT. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> THE LETTER THAT ARRIVED TOO LATE: An important letter from Robert E. Lee to Ulysses S. Grant across the battlefield at Cold Harbor, June 6, 1864. $120,000 to $180,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> DAVY CROCKETT. Autograph Letter Signed on his political philosophy and his dispute with Andrew Jackson, "at home Weakley County," August 18, 1831. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> GEORGE WASHINGTON. Letter Signed to Colonel Richard Gridley, the first engineer of the American Army, Morris Town, January 9, 1777. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> SCOTT FITZGERALD. <i>Tender is the Night.</i> FIRST EDITION, INSCRIBED to H.A. Swanseid. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS. <i>Tarzan of the Apes.</i> FIRST EDITION. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> J.R.R. TOLKIEN. <i>The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.</i> FIRST EDITION. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NATHANAEL WEST. <i>The Day of the Locust.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, inscribed to director Richard Wallace in the year of publication. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> FRANCIS PICABIA. Archive of 17 Autograph Letters signed to Jennie Thiersch on art and life, 1948-1951. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> JOHN HANCOCK. Autograph Letter Signed to his wife Dolly from the Continental Congress, 4 pp, Philadelphia, March 10-11, 1777. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 28:</b> NIGHTGOWN WORN BY CHARLOTTE CARDEZA DURING THE TITANIC DISASTER AND RESCUE. $40,000 to $60,000

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