Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2019 Issue

What Collecting is Becoming

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Selections from Freeman's and Christie's magazines

Collecting has been, to my way of thinking, about acquiring material within a focus and the discussions I’ve heard over the years invariably focused on the collecting of categories, be they records, postcards, paintings, or books to name a few.  Collecting in that way mirrored the way dealers approached their material which was important because they knew how to build focused inventories and collectors learned to interact with them.  For decades such an approach worked.

 

Beginning with the advent of the Internet the dealer’s critical role as aggregator of categories began to see their veils raised on what had been mainly secret:  many of their sources.  The outcome was the proliferation of collector-dealers who used this knowledge to find appealing values for resale as well exceptional examples for their own collections.

 

Along the way the collector’s footprint evolved as they were among the first to see that the Internet, that was undermining the old ways of buying and selling was also exposing hitherto unrecognized or unfindable material that fit very well into ever more focused collections.  And that’s where we are today, now moving into the era of uniquely focused subject collections that, only a few decades ago, were beyond the imaginations of all but the very few.  Today this collecting emerges as the new gold standard, the deeply satisfying integration of collectibles of many types.

 

Apropos of this trend two of the slick collecting and showcase magazines issued by auction houses; Freeman’s of Philadelphia and Lyon and Turnbull of the United Kingdom marketing together, and Christies of New York, London and various other cities, countries and continents, showed up in my mailbox.                     

 

They both project a sense of collecting as a deeper, more sophisticated engagement than mere categories.

 

In Freeman’s recent International View the following stories appear;

 

Across the Continents.  Property from the Collections of Ambassador & Mrs. Alexander Weddell – The Virginia House Museum

 

Modern Made.  Michael Ayerton and Kenneth Armitage

 

An Interview with a Champion.  The Collection of Victor Niederhoffer

 

Depths of Reality.  Antoni Tapies’ El Dolor de Brunhilda

 

Joan Eardley.  Capturing the Essence of Scotland

 

Cecilia Beaux.  Portrait of a Philadelphia Artist

 

 

The Christies’s Magazine provides an even more lush offering:

 

I bought it at Christie’s.  Robert Cooper on a favorite bureau and set of dining chairs

 

On Show.  Our pick of this month’s must-see art exhibitions around the world

 

My Space.  At home with David Collins Studio Founder and CEO Iain Watson

 

Artists in focus.  Four distinctive contemporary artists – from Germany, Japan, Ethiopia and the UK – whose work explores urban landscapes

 

The way I see it.  The 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death inspires Andrew Graham-Dixon to take a fresh look at his tumultuous masterpiece, The Night Watch

 

Innovator in ink.  Artist Chloe Ho has made a splash in  the Hong Kong art world and beyond with contemporary works that are part of a great Chinese tradition

 

Collectors & collections.  Four collectors based in Texas share their passion for illuminated manuscripts, mechanical toy banks, antique dolls and Japanese armor

 

Reach for the stars.  Beth Moon’s photographs of trees around the world resonate with cosmic significance

 

Minimal interference.   Forward -thinking Swiss gallerists Gianfranco and Annemarie Verna have been showing work by the pioneers of minimalists art for more than 50 years

 

Double vision.  Tobias Rehberger’s art creates unlikely pairings,  from a flagship fashion store covered in razzle-dazzle camouflage to an art gallery with its own butcher’s shop

 

That was then.  Alighiero Boetti with friends (and owl) at his hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, 1971

 

And what do all these stories have in common?  They convey eclectic taste, choices and inclusion, A place where you can find your place.  And that’s significant because the boundaries between collecting categories are disappearing as collectors literally invent their take on how these elements fit together.

 

These magazines are worth obtaining for how they recast assumptions about collecting.  As a collector I’ve been encouraged to rethink my collecting objectives and acknowledge that narrower, deeper collecting is not only possible, it’s also more challenging and satisfying.

 

Left unsaid is how such collections will be disposed.  For some years I’ve thought they will logically go to institutions but we are living in the era when the great institutional collections will also be refocused, many seeking unique perspectives they can dominate worldwide from a single college, university, institution or collector’s aerie.  The era of a little of this and a little of that without focus is ending.

 

These are wonderful and unsettling times and the next ten years will see seismic shifts in what collections encompass as well as how they are shared.  But for that to work out we’ll need to enfranchise a thousand new collectors to define their focuses and begin to own their unique territories because such collections, while absorbing thousands of items, will be narrow and that may weaken support for the category approach that has been the bedrock of the dealer approach to selling.

 

In the meantime talk to Christie’s and Freeman’s in the United States and Lyon & Turnbull in the UK.  Their magazines are must reads for understanding what collecting is becoming.  If they offer subscriptions, subscribe.

 

Here's a link for Christie's Magazine  which can be purchased for a single issue or for a year, 6 issues.

 

 Here is a link for Freeman's Magazine published twice annually.

 

 


Posted On: 2019-05-02 04:07
User Name: mairin

Bruce, your grasp of these serious issues is impressive ~ intelligent and prescient. All to say, "What Collecting Is Becoming" is a living classic, a must-read. Thank you for taking this on.

Maureen E. Mulvihill
Collector / Rare Book Hub Guest Writer, 2016 - .
_____


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 20.<br>Mrs S. C. Belnos.</b> <i>The Sundhya or the Daily Prayers of the Brahmins,</i> 1st edition, 1851. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 20.<br>Sir Harry Darell.</b> <i>China, India, Cape of Good Hope and Vicinity,</i> 1st edition, 1852. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 20.<br><i>Scots Magazine,</i></b> 61 volumes, 1739-1800. With important maps of North America. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Ian Fleming.</b> <i>Casino Royale,</i> 1st edition, 1953. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Virginia Woolf.</b> <i>Really and Truly,</i> 1915. Autograph confessions book. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Evelyn Waugh.</b> <i>Vile Bodies,</i> 1st edition, 1930. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>J. R. R. Tolkien.</b> Autograph letter signed on Old English, with corrected typescript. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Lewis Carroll.</b> <i>The Hunting of the Snark,</i> 1st edition, 1876. Presentation copy. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Essex House Press.</b> <i>Poems of William Shakespeare,</i> 1899. One of 450 copies. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Lafcadio Hearn.</b> <i>A Japanese Miscellany,</i> 1st edition, 1901. Presentation copy. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Jules Verne.</b> <i>Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas,</i> 1st UK edition, 1873. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Jan 21.<br>Charles Dickens.</b> <i>The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit,</i> 1st edition, 1844. Original cloth binding. £800 to £1,200.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>January Auction<br>January 23, 2021</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26.</i> London: Robert Havell, 1827-1838. $125,000 to $175,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81.</i> London: Robert Havell, 1827-1838. $145,000 to $175,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>Brown Pelican, Plate 421.</i> London: Robert Havell, 1827-1838. $75,000 to $100,000.
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    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> DE BRY, Johann Theodore, attributed to. Pair of Watercolor studies of Tulips. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> FUERTES, Louis Agassiz. <i>Alaskan Brown Bear.</i> Watercolor and gouache on board. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> HILL, Thomas. <i>Big Trees.</i> Oil on canvas. c. 1903. $40,000 to $60,000.
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    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> GOULD, John. <i>A Monograph of the Macropodidae or Family of Kangaroos.</i> London: by the author, August 1st 1841-May 1st 1842. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> GOULD, John. <i>A Monograph of the Odontophorinae, or Partridges of America.</i> London: Richard and John E. Taylor for the Author, [1844]-1850. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> JANSSONIUS, Joannes. <i>Atlantis majoris quinta pars, orbem maritimum seu omnium marium…</i> Amsterdam: Joannes Janssonius, 1652. $50,000 to $80,000.
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    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> DONCKER, Hendrik. <i>De Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Waereld, vertoonende alle de Zee-Kusten van het bekende deel des Aerd-Bodems.</i> Amsterdam: Henrick Doncker, [1658-1665]. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> BURR, David. <i>Map of the City and County of New York with the Adjacent Country.</i> Engraved map with original hand color. Ithaca, NY: Stone & Clark, 1839. $9,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Jan. 23:</b> CURRIER, Nathaniel and IVES, James Merritt. <i>The City of New York.</i> Lithograph with original hand color. New York: Currier & Ives, 1884. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Joseph F. Kernan, <i>College Football,</i> oil on canvas, <i>The Saturday Evening Post</i> cover, 1932. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Joseph C. Leyendecker, <i>Golfer Lighting a Cigarette,</i> oil on canvas, c.1920. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Howard Chandler Christy, <i>In the Field,</i> charcoal & watercolor, published in <i>Scribner’s,</i> 1902. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> N.C. Wyeth, <i>Standish Reading,</i> pen & ink, for <i>The Courtship of Miles Standish,</i> 1920. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Johnanna Stewart Mapes, <i>A Fairy Book,</i> conté crayon, for <i>St. Nicholas Magazine,</i> 1907. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Arnold Lobel, pen & ink, for <i>The Frog & Toad Coloring Book,</i> 1981. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jan 28:</b> Antonio Lopez, <i>Today’s Fashions,</i> study for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1981. $2,500 to $3,500.
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