• <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VOLTAIRE. Œuvres complètes. [Kehl], Société littéraire et typographique, 1784-1789. 70 vol. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> <i>ENCYCLOPÉDIE MÉTHODIQUE…</i> Paris, Panckoucke ; Liège, Plompteux, 1782-1832. 254 volumes in-4. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> RUYSCH (FREDERIK). <i>Thesaurus anatomicus primus [–decimus]. Het eerste [–tiende] anatomisch cabinet.</i> Amsterdam, 1701-1716. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [MARCELLO (CRISTOFORO)]. <i>Sacrarum cæremoniarum sive rituum ecclesiasticorum S. Rom. Ecclesiæ libri tres.</i> Venise, Giunta, 1582. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [RABEL (DANIEL)]. <i>Theatrum Floræ, in quo ex toto orbe selecti mirabiles, venustiores, ac præcipui flores, tanquam ab ipsius deæ sinu proferuntur.</i> Paris, Pierre Firens, 1627. €3,000 to €4,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VALERIANO (PIEIRIO). <i>[Hieroglyphica, sive de sacris Ægyptiorum aliarumque gentium literis, commentariorum libri LVIII]…</i> Francfort, 1613-[1614]. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> BRUN (CLAUDE). [Cours manuscrit de Jérôme Dandini sur la Physique d'Aristote et disputes philosophiques des étudiants du collège jésuite de Bourges]. Conclusiones physic… 1579-1580. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> CLERISSEAU (CHARLES-LOUIS). <i>Antiquités de la France. Première partie.</i> [Monuments de Nismes]. Paris, 1778. €1,000 to €1,200.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> LE FÈVRE (L.-C.). <i>Grand escalier du château de Versailles, dit escalier des ambassadeurs, ordonné et peint par Charles Le Brun.</i> Paris, s.d. €800 to €1,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KEPLER INVESTIGATES PLANETARY MOTION. KEPLER, JOHANNES. 1571-1630. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> THE FINAL ILLUSTRATION OF POOH AND PIGLET IN THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GUTENBERG BIBLE LEAF. $60,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ORTELIUS, ABRAHAM. 1527-1598. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. "Christmas Dinner at Maxime de la Falaise's" $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GERSHWIN WORKING MUSICAL MANUSCRIPT PAGE FROM <i>OF THEE I SING.</i> $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GILBERT, W.S. Original typed manuscript for <i>The Story of the Mikado.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> FINAL TYPED MANUSCRIPT FOR V.C. ANDREWS CLASSIC <I>FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.</I> $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ANNOTATED TYPESCRIPT DRAFT FOR KIPLING'S FINAL MOWGLI STORY. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> PRESENTATION COPY OF GUYS AND DOLLS. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> CHARLES DICKENS' CHINA INKWELL FEATURING A BEE READING, FROM GAD'S HILL. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> NELSON'S BATTLE PLAN FOR TRAFALGAR. $200,000 to $300,000
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Age of Wonder<br>Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles. His definitive statement on natural selection, and his legacy. $600,000 to $800,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin announces the theory of natural selection. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Jenner, Edward. Autograph letter, addressed to Dr. Wollaston, dated 21 November 1800, discussing the possible ill-effects of vaccination. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Age of Wonder<br>Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> De Quincey, Thomas. Autograph letter signed (Thos. De Quincey). "A conclusive experiment on the profit of leaving of leaving off opium.” $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Melville, Herman. <i>Moby-Dick; or, The Whale.</i> New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851. “And God created great whales.” $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Nov. 25-Dec. 9:</b> Foote, Eunice Newton. "Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun's rays," [In:] <i>The American Journal of Science and Arts…</i> New York, 1856. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>
    <center><b>Christie’s<br> Valuable Books and Manuscripts<br> London, 14 December 2022</b>

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2020 Issue

How Big Is Your Book Collection? This Man Says His is 1.5 Million Books

0a5870c1-96d6-44b8-b78b-b5f61cd4dc02

A portion of Anke Gowda's “library.”

So you think you have a large book collection? Anke Gowda probably doesn't think so. Gowda is a man from the Indian countryside who started collecting books as a young man. He is 72 now. As he explains, he was born into a poor household, his father having been a farmer. He developed a great interest in reading, but had little access to books. He decided to do something about it. Did he ever.

 

Fifty years ago, he decided to collect at least 1,000 books a month. If his estimates are right, he actually did much better than that. He now says, “I have already collected more than 1.5 million books.” I cannot vouch for that number, nor challenge it. I doubt Mr. Gowda can with certainty either as he has not catalogued them nor kept them in neat order. How could he with so many? One thing is clear – he owns an incredible number of books.

 

Not surprisingly, Mr. Gowda does not have a very focused collection. According to the Indian Express, he possesses “books on literature, science and technology, mythology, critiques, travelogues, research, astrology, women’s and children’s literature, etc.” He says he has books in 22 different Indian languages as well as eight foreign ones. Additionally, he has tens of thousands of magazines. He also collects stamps, coins and paper money, movie posters and newspapers on the side.

 

One would imagine these are not the most valuable of books. Mr. Gowda is not a rich man. He worked as a time-keeper in a sugar factory for 30 years, spending most of his money on books. He describes his book collecting as a hobby. He is now retired, living on a pension, but still adding another thousand books a month. He buys them from booksellers but also gets many free, either deaccessioned by libraries or discarded by individuals. Under the circumstances, I suspect he has a few duplicates in his collection.

 

For years, he kept them all in his house. He sleeps on the floor and cooks in a small corner. Fifteen years ago, his house entirely filled, an industrialist helped him build a large structure of approximately 24,000 square feet to hold more books. His “book house” is open to scholars and tourists to visit. Undoubtedly, there are scholars who would like to access his books, but I have no idea how they would find what they want.

 

Here is the most amazing thing about Mr. Gowda. He is married. Apparently, his wife supports him and his venture. If this woman isn't a saint I don't know who is. I don't know whether Gowda has any children, but if he does, they must be hoping he outlives them.

 

Anke Gowda has been managing the library by himself for years. He cannot afford to hire help. He is now looking for volunteers to help organize his collection. He may have some already, but it will take a lot of help to get this library in order.

 

Has Mr. Gowda assembled the world's largest private book collection, now or ever? Maybe. The legendary 19th century book collector, Thomas Phillipps, had a mere 100,000 books and manuscripts in his collection. Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died just last year, had 300,000 books, still just a drop in the bucket. However, there is one competitor, the man who is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest collection in the world. His name is John Q. Benham of Avoca, Indiana. How many books does Mr. Benham possess? According to Guinness, it's the same as claimed by Mr. Gowda – over 1.5 million. It will take a lot of counting to determine who is number one. And this leads us to one final question – why do they do this?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop<br>Catalogue 195<br>Magnificent Books & Manuscripts<br>Free on request</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Benjamin Franklin on Electricity. Inscribed presentation copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Frederick Douglass. Letter on civil war and the end of slavery.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Carleton Watkins. A major American West photo album.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Einstein. General Theory of Relativity inscribed by Einstein.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> The Federalist. Rare deluxe thick-paper copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Emma Johnston. Archive of 350 salt prints by a Victorian female photographer.
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>The Collection of a New York Surveyor<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 3. Francis M. Maerschalk. Manuscript plan of Philip Minthorne's land in Bowery 3. $2,000-3,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 30. William Bridges. A Map of a Block of Ground situate in Water Street between Walnut and Fir Streets. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 4. Francis M. Maerschalk. M. Barrack Street/Road from Spring Garden to Fresh Water. $5,000-8,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 46. Love Lane. Map of Land and Buildings the property of Samuel I Tobias Esqr. $2,000-3,000
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 157. Stephen King. <i>Christine.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1983. First trade edition, inscribed by the author. $1,500-2,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 163. Charles Lindbergh. “We.” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927. First edition, Author’s Autograph Edition. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 177. A.A. Milne. <i>Winnie-the-Pooh.</i> London: Methuen, 1926. First English trade edition, first impression. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 196. William Shakespeare. <i>Othello, the Moor of Venice.</i> London: printed for W. Weak, 1681. $4,000-6,000
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 203. John Steinbeck. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York: Viking, 1939. First edition. $1,000-1,500
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Long ALS to Ronaldson "I consider Bonaparte as fighting our battles, and there I wish him success...” $35,000 to $45,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> G.A. Custer. PSA Mint 9 Brady CDV Signed with Rank, Best Signature/Pose We Have Ever Seen. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> B. Franklin. 1733 Signed Philadelphia Partial Land Grant Dated Less Than 6 Months After Launch of "Poor Richard's Almanack". $12,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Abraham Lincoln On Executive Mansion Stationery Replies to An Autograph Request! Fantastic Example. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> G. Washington. Free Frank to Maj. Tallmadge Re: Culper Courier. $12,000 to $14,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Albert Einstein ALS, “I am happy to see that a Jew is always 'en famille' wherever his steps lead him on this earth.” $5,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Incredible Utah 1857 Mormon War Period Ft. Bridger Ledger: Afr. American Content, Mention of Armstead, Bernard Bee, RE Lee’s Son, 120pp! $10,000 to $12,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Apollo XI. PSA Mint +9.5 Insurance Cover Signed by Armstrong, Aldrin & Collins, From Buzz Aldrin Family Space Collection. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Booker T. Washington, 17 Pages "Proud of Race...In & out of slavery...It is said that the strongest chain is no stronger than its weakest link." Handwritten Speech Notes. $8,000 to $9,000.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>December 14, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> R. Wallenberg. Signed Schutz-Pass Doc, With Rare Full Signature. $7,000 to $8,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> Freud & Jung Together, Most Famous Photo in Psychology History! September 1911, Weimar, Germany. $6,000 to $7,000.
    <b>University Archives, Dec. 14:</b> JFK Oversized Photo with Jackie & Caroline, Signed and Inscribed, Stunning! $3,500 to $4,500.
  • <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Two first editions by Adrian Spigelius in a Sammelband: <i>De humani corporis fabrica</i> from 1627 and <i>De formato foetu</i> from 1626. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Splendid coloured copy by Frederick De Wit, <i>Atlas maior,</i> Amsterdam, 1705. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by Marco Ricci, <i>Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris prestantissimi Experimenta,</i> Venice, Orsolini, 1723-1730. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by MicheleMarieschi, <i>Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus,</i> Venice, 1741. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Magnificent album by Louis-Leopold Boilly, Collection de dessins, calques et acquerelles, 1822. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Rare musical score by Gioachino Rossini from 1858. €6,500 to €7,500.
  • <b><center>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>December 14/15<br>Printed Books, Maps & Playing Cards, Jane Austen, Children’s & Illustrated Books, Modern First Editions</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> [Austen, Jane]. <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel,</i> 3 volumes, 1st edition, 1811. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> [Austen, Jane]. <i>Pride and Prejudice: A Novel...</i> 3 volumes, 1st edition, 1813. £60,000 to £80,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Burton (Richard F). <i>The Lake Regions of Central Africa,</i> 1st edition, 2 volumes, 1860. £500 to £700.
    <b><center>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>December 14/15<br>Printed Books, Maps & Playing Cards, Jane Austen, Children’s & Illustrated Books, Modern First Editions</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Dampier (William). <i>A New Voyage Around The World,</i> 1st edition, London: James Knapton, 1697. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Weston (Stephen). <i>Siao cu lin, or, A small collection of Chinese characters...,</i> 1812. £300 to £400.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> China. Speed (John). <i>The Kingdome of China,</i> George Humble, [1627]. £1,200 to £1,600.
    <b><center>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>December 14/15<br>Printed Books, Maps & Playing Cards, Jane Austen, Children’s & Illustrated Books, Modern First Editions</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Shelley (Mary Wollstonecraft). <i>Frankenstein,</i> 3rd edition, 1831. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Chapbook. <i>Captain Ross's Voyage to the North Pole,</i> circa 1830s/40s. £100 to £200.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Transformation playing cards. Metastasis, London: S. and J. Fuller, 1811. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b><center>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>December 14/15<br>Printed Books, Maps & Playing Cards, Jane Austen, Children’s & Illustrated Books, Modern First Editions</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Kelmscott Press. Morris (William). <i>The Well at the World's End,</i> presentation copy, 1896. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Moonraker,</i> 1st edition, 2nd state, 1955. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 14/15:</b> Plath (Sylvia). <i>The Bell Jar,</i> 1st edition, London: Heinemann, 1963. £3,000 to £4,000.
  • <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Plato. <i>Platonis Opera,</i> Venetiis: a Philippo Pincio Mantuano hoc opus Impressum fuit, Anno d[omi]ni. M.cccccxvii. Die.xxii. Aprilis (22 aprile 1517). €800 to €1,000.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Francesco Robortello. <i>In librum Aristotelis de arte Poetica, explicationes,</i> Basileae: per Ioannem Heruagium iuniorem, 1555. In folio. €500 to €800.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> <i>Instrumento della compra del Ducato di Terra Nova.</i> Atto notarile cinquecentesco, manoscritto pergamenaceo, con bella miniatura iniziale, composto da 5 bifolio (300x225 mm) scritti recto e verso. €300 to €400.
    <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Giovanni Bertachini. <i>Repertorii Bertachini,</i> Venetiis: 1507, 2 voll. (di 3). In folio. Importante post incunabolo. €1,800 to €2,200.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Paulus de Middelburgo. <i>Pavlina De recta Paschae celebratione: et De die passionis Domini nostri Iesu Christi,</i> 1513. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Gaius Svetonius. <i>Suetonius Tranquillus cum Philippi Beroaldi, et Marci Antonii Sabellici commentariis,</i> Venetiis, 1500. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Cicero Marco Tullio. <i>Rhetoricorum ad C. Herennium libri IV incerto auctore,</i> Venetiis: Aldus, 1569: €250 to €300.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Rupertus Tuitiensis. <i>Ruperti abbatis monasterii Tuitiensis,</i> Apud foelicem Coloniam, 1526. Aeditio prima. In folio. €800 to €1,500.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Agostino Nifo. <i>Destructiones destructionum Auerroys cum Augustini niphi de Suessa expositione,</i> Venetijs: Octauiani Scoti 1497, 1495, 2 pt. in 1 vol. €2,000 to €2,400.
    <b><center>Maison Bibelot<br>Online Only Auction<br>The Bucciarelli Collection:<br>Ancient Books and Incunabula<br>Dec. 6-14, 2022</b>
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Giorgio Vasari. <i>Le vite de' piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori... Primo Volume della Terza Parte,</i> Fiorenza: Appresso i Giunti, 1568. €600 to €800.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Hieronymus (santo). <i>Epistole sancti Hieronymi,</i> Lugduni: Per Magistrum Iacobum Saccon, 1518. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Maison Bibelot, Dec. 6-14:</b> Tommaso d'Aquino. <i>Incipiunt preclarissima opuscula diui Thome aquinatis,</i> Venetijs: ingenio ac impensa Hermanni Lichtenstein Coloniensis, 1497. €300 to €500.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books<br> December 8, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Friedrich Justin Bertuch, <i>Bilderbuch für Kinder,</i> Weimar, 1792, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1822. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster, <i>Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula,</i> Basel, 1552. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster & Hans Holbein, <i>Typus Cosmographicus Universales,</i> Basel, 1532. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Franz Unger, <i>Die Urwelt in Ihren Verschiedenen Bildungsperioden,</i> 16 tinted lithographed plates, Weigel, 1858. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Charles Varle, Wiliam Warner & Andrew Hanna, <i>Plan of the City of Environs of Baltimore,</i> Baltimore, 1801. $8,000 to $12,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions