Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2018 Issue

Saturday Morning on Mainline Television

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Many auctions, millions of dollars - for old and rare cars impeccably maintained or restored

On a recent Saturday, flipping through the now hundreds of TV channels looking for something worth watching I chanced across the future of important rare and collectible paper auctions.  There, at noon on the NBC affiliate covering the San Francisco Bay Area was an auction, yes an auction.

 

It was the Saturday Mecum Car Auction at Pebble Beach held during the antique car get-together where astounding classic cars are sold for even more astounding prices.  Pride of place during the weekend show went to a car that wasn’t made until I was sixteen years old, a 1962 Ferrari GTO 250 that brought $48.4 million.  More to my taste, if not my pocketbook, was a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ that changed hands for $22 million.  Personally, I preferred the 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Convertible Victoria that sold for $3,745,000.  That would have been an excellent car for dating in my teens. 

 

What’s interesting about these sales is that if NBC can show a car auction it’s also possible for rare books to be on mainline television.  So, what would it take?

 

For starters it’s all about money, both the highest values and the number of lots showcased during say an hour.  The cars I watched each spent about five minutes in the pits.  For rare books, given that the values will be lower, the flow would need to be closer to one minute and even then, the material would need to be exalted, probably a ten-million-dollar minimum.

 

So, are there enough very valuable items that could be sold in that hour?   Yes but inevitably it will take not only exalted but also very famous material and that means we may not see a rare book auction on main line television until a Gutenberg Bible is offered.  The next copy, assuming it is sumptuous and very original, should bring fifty million dollars.

 

Such a sale would be very good both for the trade and for book collecting.  With all the collecting and gaming opportunities that abound book collecting can look like Grandpa’s thing.  But if rare books, maps, manuscripts and ephemera can break into the space where the current and future generations of collectors are relaxed and open to new perspectives collectible paper will make a very good case. 

 

Those of us of a certain age know that such material is exceptionally satisfying to study and collect.  Our challenge has long been attracting the attention of future collectors.

 

Therefore, if you have a Gutenberg, and understand it is different from a Duesenberg, think about selling it and suggesting the auction house you select use an hour of mainline television to showcase the experience to the emerging next generation of collectors.

 

It will make a difference.


Posted On: 2018-09-01 10:09
User Name: gallery18

Live-streaming of some auctions is already well established online. With the addition of enhanced production values and commentary and, yes, some stage craft, there's every potential for auctions to become engaging TV fare. In fact, I'm surprised we've not yet seen the creation of a dedicated Auction Channel.


Posted On: 2018-09-01 14:06
User Name: henryberry

As I've often said to my friends and colleagues in the ephemera and antiquarian book trade in and around Connecticut, one of my disappointments with this field is the lack of publicity and promotion in the media, or often amateurish or dull articles when they are seen. Though I'm seeing over the past couple of years much improved efforts, for example with some book shows and some dealers. Long involved in the field, just yesterday I created a blog named Ephemera Today (https://ephemeratoday.blogspot.com). I was inspired not only because of my indefatigable curiosity in books, maps, archival material, etc. — chronic reader, peering into any book I see disease, poring over areas of maps and their design malady, and such — but also because I would like to be doing something to spread news and reports about the commercial value of these materials. Being in the field entails not only challenges regarding knowledge, expertise, and the gaining of relevant experience, but also for serious dealers an investment mindset taking into consideration current and future market conditions, the relationship between social interests and sometimes mores and the affect of this on market value, and risk-reward calculations. I unapologetically bring together items of significant cultural worth and commercial value for such, though do not equate the two since a lot of this has to do with current and changing social interests, events, and demographics (i. e., generational preferences). I could go on... My first article at Ephemera Today to be written over the weekend and posted no later than Monday afternoon is titled "Uncertainties in the Black Americana Market." I'm interested in hearing from others about little-known or recently discovered ephemera, stories of discoveries, ideas for marketing, shaping one's business and managing inventory, emerging markets, and other topics of interest to dealers and the public (henryberryinct@gmail.com).


Posted On: 2018-09-03 01:05
User Name: hermeticsurveyor

Recently I spent some time on youtube looking at videos about book collecting. Almost without exception they were atrociously boring! Talking heads in front of a wall of books is boring, no?

Since then I've hired a videographer and we will experiment, there must be better ways of showing the world how fascinating old books and documents are. One of my favorite vidoes is the episode Anthony Bourdain did inside one of Zubal's warehouses, with the pipes still full of Twinky cream! Here is the 4 min vid. http://www.zubalbooks.com/article-anthony-bourdain.jsp


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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