Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2005 Issue

Charles Heartman: Unintended Lessons

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

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    BROWSE NOW
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.

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