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

  • <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, NY, 1892. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Scarce <i>Events of the Tulsa Disaster,</i> First Edition, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass by Benjamin F. Smith, 1864. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> California Imprint of <i>President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation</i> Broadside, 1864. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> John C.H. Grabill Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat, ca 1886. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,</i> 2nd Cookbook Published by African American. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Frederick Douglass Walking Stick, 1888. $3,000 to $5,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California, <i>Life and Adventures of James Williams.</i> $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire <i>De La Littérature des Nègres</i>. $2,500 to $3,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> African American Soldier and Medal of Honor Winner Christian A. Fleetwood CDV, PLUS. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries Pennant, 1910 Reno, Nevada. $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Joe Gans Photograph at 1906 Goldfield, Nevada Fight by Percy Dana. $600 to $800
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel, By a Lady,</i> 3 volumes, London, 1811. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Kew Gardens,</i> limited edition, signed by Woolf & Bell, London, 1927. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> <i>[Arabian Nights],</i> Calcutta II version, 4 volumes, Calcutta & London, 1839-1842. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 ALS to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor, anticipating Christie’s sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Emma,</i> first edition, London, 1816. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Hirohito & Nagako, Emperor & Empress of Japan, 2 photographs signed, showing Nagako in kimono & obi bearing the imperial seal. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 autograph letters signed to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor Elizabeth Tilberis, anticipating Christie’s announcement of a sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Sarojini Naidu, complete galley proof of <i>The Broken Wing</i> signed with several holograph pages & an autograph letter signed to writer Edmund Gosse, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Fernando Pessoa, <i>Mensagem,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, Lisbon, 1934. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Graham Greene, <i>The Basement Room,</i> first edition, Greene’s personal copy, signed with annotations throughout, London, 1935. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed, call for troops issued during America’s first national draft just days before the NYC draft riots, 1863. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b><br><i>Les Chansons de Bilitis</i> by Pierre Louÿs, illustrated by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1922. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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