Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2021 Issue

Remembering an Excellent Effort to Understand the Market in 1978/1979

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A good idea that didn't last

Annual Report of the American Rare Antiquarian and Out-of-Print Book Trade 1978/1979

 

Introduction

 

By Denis Carbonneau

 

This edition of the Annual Report of the American Rare, Antiquarian, and Out-of-Print Trade is the first of a projected series whose purpose is to give a picture of  the antiquarian book trade for the year beginning July 1 and ending the following June 30.  These dates were adopted because they coincide with the fiscal year of most academic libraries and because they overlap the dates of the auction season.

 

The full title of this publication defines its direction and purpose.  The phrase annual report is a financial term for a statement of the financial health of tan enterprise.  Thus, readers will find here an appraisal of the financial health of the antiquarian book trade.

 

A purely financial view of the trade would, however, present a misleading and lopsided picture of the American antiquarian book trade in 1978 / 1979. Supporting activities, associations, and scholarship are an integral part of the trade, and in many ways these elements of the trade share responsibility for its success.  Their activities for 1978 / 1979 are also summarized in the Annual Report.

 

The section entitled “Auctions and Auctioneering” and “Review of Specialized Areas” provide information on buying and selling practices, financial trends, and changes in book collecting habits.

 

The dealer-specialists whose articles appear here have recorded their experiences as reflected in the activity of their businesses.  The most important material available for purchase would be likely to pass through their hands – or through the hands of dealers known to them.  So their appraisals can be expected to be an accurate summary of the year’s activity in their fields.

 

Such an approach is not without its hazards, of course, and specialist collectors and dealers may take exception to individual evaluations,  However, dealers were asked to concentrate on trends and relate those trends to the antiquarian book trade itself.  This summary process may distort the picture of a particular field.  Yet, while no claim to scientific accuracy is made here, the articles as a whole do provide a coherent and, I believe, accurate, view of a diverse and to some extent amorphous trade.

 

While the interpretations of last year’s marketplace activity may be re-evaluated in the future, the events that shaped the trade were seen by most dealers in the same way.  This is not necessarily a sign of accuracy.  But can so many dealers with different specialties and different views of the trade be off target?  It seems unlikely.  In any event, such unanimity will certainly play a large part in any future re-evaluation of the 1978 / 1979 trade.

 

The specialties that appear in the “Review of Specialized Areas” were chosen because of their current popularity with collectors, because of their historical importance in any overview of book selling and book collecting, or in eliminating possible bias.  Most of the areas will appear in future reports:  some areas will be dropped and others added as circumstances warrant.

 

Recurring themes within the articles may point to ongoing or developing trends.  For example, the effects of inflation were, not surprisingly, felt by all dealers, and this accounted for the increase in prices in many areas.  On the other hand, some steep increases undoubtedly result from the re-evaluation of the importance of certain areas.  Concurrent with the effects of inflation, the effects of the devaluation of the dollar were felt by dealers who buy abroad.

 

The influence and  importance of the investor-collector are the subject of comment and speculation.  While some dealers accept and encourage the purchase of books as an investment, others prefer not to deal with individuals who buy books for this purpose.  Still other dealers are not altogether sure that this is actually taking place since their specialties seem to be little affected.

 

The influx of new collectors and dealers or of collectors turned dealers proved disconcerting to several writers, especially since these novices are ignorant not only of the financial aspects of their fields, but of the bibliographical aspects as well.  Higher, inflated prices and poor cataloguing practices are the result.  The book collector who is himself ignorant of his field is thus the victim.

 

Finally, the unpredictability of the first editions market was the subject of discussion by dealers in almost every field.

 

The other sections of the Annual Report, the humanistic elements, also underscore trends in book collecting.  “Conservation of Material” will appeal to sophisticated collectors who recognize that their collections, valuable scholarship tools, are subject to deterioration.  These collectors will want to know what can be done to keep their collections from disintegrating even as they are being used.

 

The section on “Libraries and Librarianship” will be of interest to librarians and dealers since it focuses on the interrelationship of these groups.

 

“Professional Associations and Activities” points to the activities that help dealers maintain professional standards and increase their knowledge.

 

“Trends in bibliography,” a section important to anyone in the trade as well as anyone interested in scholarship and in books, is a summary of exciting bibliographical projects underway.

 

Finally, reference information not easily found elsewhere, if it can be found at all, is included in the Annual Report.

 

The section on book clubs will be updated yearly to reflect historical changes in an important segment of the book collecting world and to provide up-to-date information on the clubs themselves.  Similarly, the information on book fairs provides an overview of the development of an important tool of the antiquarian bookseller.

 

Sections on other topics of significance to the trade will be added as needed, and readers are asked to submit suggestions for improvements or additions.

 

This publication is necessarily the product of the work and faith of many people.  To the contributors themselves I extend my sincerest appreciation for their participation.  In addition, appreciation is due to Robert Nikirk and Thomas Lange for their participation as interviewers.

 

Others who contributed to the success of this volume include Evelyn Harter Glick, who designed the title page and assisted in decisions about design problems.  John DiLorenzo, who did yeoman service in assisting with production aspects; Dorothy MacDonald, who indexed the material; Michael Moran, who was asked near the deadline date to write his article, and who did so under  great editorial pressure; and Lawrence McCrank, who undertook extensive writing and editorial tasks.  To all, I owe a debt of gratitude.

 

As editor of this volume, I of course assume responsibility for the book as a final product.

 

Denis Carbonnneau

New York, New York

December 1979

 

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Verlag, Luzern, Publishers: <i>The Book of Kells,</i> the most precious illuminated manuscript of the early Middle Ages, now reproduced, the FIRST AND ONLY COMPLETE FINE ART FACSIMILE EDITION. €5,000 to €6,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone,</i> 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1997, First Deluxe Edn., Signed by the Author on title page. €4,000 to €5,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Gilbert (John T.) Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, from the earliest extant specimens to A.D. 719. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> <i>The Georgian Society Records of Eighteenth-Century Domestic Architecture in Dublin [-Ireland],</i> 5 vols. lg. 4to D. 1909 - 1913. Limited Editions. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (W.B.) <i>The Poems of W.B. Yeats,</i> 2 vols., roy 8vo, L. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949, Limited Edn., No. 185 (of 375 copies). Signed. €1,500 to €2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Crone (John S.)ed. <i>The Irish Book Lover, A Monthly Review of Irish Literature and Bibliography.</i> Vol. I No 1 August 1909 - Vol. XXXII No. 6, September 1957. €1,250 to €2,000.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Yeats (John Butler) <i>An original self-portrait Sketch,</i> Signed and dated April 1919, N[ew] York. €1,200 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Photograph Album. Entitled ''A Souvenir of the Visit to Jeypore Samasthanam of His Excellency the Right Hon'ble Viscount Goschen of Hawkhurst… 14th December 1927''. €1,000 to €1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Pistolesi (Erasmo) <i>Il Vaticano,</i> 8vols. large atlas, folio Rome (Tipografia della Societa..) 1829. €500 to €600.
    <center><b>The Collectors’ Sale<br>March 3, 2021</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Chagall (Marc)illus., Legmarie (Jean) comp., <i>The Jerusalem Windows,</i> folio N.Y. (George Braziller) 1962. €400 to €500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Bullitt (Thos. W.) <i>My Life at Oxmoor,</i> Life on a Farm in Kentucky before the War. Roy 8vo Louisville, Kentucky, 1911. Privately Printed No. 86 of 100 Copies Only. €300 to €400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy, Mar. 3:</b> Popish Plot: Oates (Titus) <i>The Popes Whore House or The Merchandise of The Whore of Rome,</i> folio L. 1679. First Edn. €100 to €150.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Frederick Douglass, ALS recruiting help for his paper after schism with Garrison, Rochester, 1851. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> James Dean, photograph by Sanford H. Roth, signed & inscribed by Dean. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Richard Wagner, ALS requesting confirmation that the Grand Duke received his letter, 1863. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Benjamin Rush, ALS, doctor’s note for a Revolutionary soldier, 1780. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Lord Byron, ALS to Cambridge classmate, “your friendship is of more account to me than all these absurd vanities,” c. 1812. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author’s first book, Paris, 1923. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Ralph Ellison, <i>Invisible Man,</i> first English edition of the author’s first novel, signed, London, 1953. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Margery Lawrence, <i>The Madonna of Seven Moons,</i> first edition in unrestored dust jacket, Indianapolis, 1933. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Joseph Albers, <i>Interaction of Color,</i> 80 color screenprints, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 1963. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 25:</b> Albert Einstein, autograph manuscript, unsigned, likely a draft discarded while working toward a unified field theory. $10,000 to $20,000.
  • <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> STEINBECK, John (1902-1968). <i>The Pastures of Heaven.</i> New York: Brewer, Warren & Putnam, 1932. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> FITZGERALD, F. Scott (1896-1940). <i>Tender is the Night.</i> New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> STOKER, Bram (1847-1912). <i>Dracula.</i> Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, 1897. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> GOLDING, William (1911-1993). <i>Lord of the Flies.</i> London: Faber and Faber, 1954. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> SALINGER, J. D. (1919-2010). The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1951. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HEMINGWAY, Ernest (1899-1961). <i>The Torrents of Spring.</i> New York: Scribner's, 1926. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HUXLEY, Aldous (1894-1963). <i>Brave New World.</i> London: Chatto & Windus, 1932. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> WELLS, H.G. <i>The Time Machine, an Invention.</i> New York: Henry Holt, 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> DAHL, Roald (1916-1990). <i>Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.</i> New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Hindman Auctions<br>Literature from a Private New Orleans Collection<br>March 19, 2021</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> HERBERT, Frank (1920-1986). Dune. Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1965. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> KESEY, Ken (1935-2001). <i>One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.</i> New York: The Viking Press, 1962. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Mar. 19:</b> VONNEGUT, Kurt, Jr. (1922-2007). <i>Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade.</i> New York: Seymour Lawrence Delacorte Press, 1969. $2,000 to $3,000.

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