Charles Heartman: Unintended Lessons

- by Bruce E. McKinney


Lot 358, the most expensive lot in the catalogue.

An interesting item is the Benedict Arnold broadside "A Representatation of the Figures exhibited and paraded through the Streets of Philadelphia,..." Mr. Heartman's copy was $150. Two years later Dr. Rosenbach offered one for $135. That's the last copy we show in the AED. This looks like a case of "going, going, gone."

Mr. Heartman's "Authentic Account of the Proceedings of the Congress held at New-York" in 1767 is priced at $150. Years before [1879], the Brinley copy sold for $3.88 and Rosenbach had since catalogued it for $50 in 1911 and 1913 and would offer it again in 1917 for the same price. Into this drumbeat of offers Mr. Heartman offered his for $150, a price for which you could have bought the Lathrop Harper and Goodspeed copies together twenty-five years later for only $5.00 more.

His copy of Joel Barlow's "The Vision of Columbus" was about right. He priced it at $12.00. The Brinley copy had brought $12 and Goodspeeds offered a copy for $10.00 in 1917. However, by 1930, with the depression setting in Mr. Heartman now offered a copy that was inscribed "The Gift of General Washington to Mrs. Bache, September 18th, 1787." (One day after the adoption of the Constitution by the Federal Convention). He priced this book at $675. Who is to say he was high.

He offered a copy of the second edition of Thomas Church's "The entertaining history of King Phillip's War,...", printed in Newport in 1772 for the price of a Model T [$400] and did not live to see Scribner undercut him 41 years later by $250. In the era before databases you could price for a particular customer or category of customers. Today, although some dealers still do this, serious buyers do their homework and avoid this type of over-pricing.

His copy of Cadwallader Colden's "The Conduct of Cadwallader Colden,..." was also very overpriced at $150. If fact he set the high mark. It's undoubtedly very rare as no other copy appeared in the AED until 1967 in the Streeter sale [lot 873] when a copy sold for $100, 2/3rds of what Mr. Heartman was asking 52 years earlier.

"A Conference between the Commissaries of Massachusetts-Bay and the Commissaries of New-York...." was offered for $200. Today it is a Howes "b." The Heartman copy mentions a broadside after page 26. If this is a separate item, and no other descriptions mention it, that's a significant addition. Not to be out-done Rosenbach offered a copy for $325. Goodspeed's offered one for $140 in 1925 after which the price meandered lower until the Eberstadts offered one for $350, just a year after Goodspeeds catalogued a copy for $75. These copies differ substantially. The Heartman copy may have been the best deal if it included the broadside.

A copy of John Cotton's "God's Promise to his Plantation" printed in 1630 was offered for $500. In 1934, in the Terry Sale and deep into the depression, a copy of this book still brought $250. In the Streeter sale in 1967 the price moved well ahead -- to $1,700. On this one Heartman seemed to have it right.