Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2003 Issue

The Collaborative Project Introduction: How You (Yes You!) Can Use the AE Database to Improve...

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Your Collecting, Buying, Selling and Researching of Rare Books

By Michael Stillman

In September of last year, the Americana Exchange opened its website to the public with a group of services to help the book collector, bookseller, rare book librarian, and historian. Perhaps the most important, and least understood, of these services is the Americana Exchange Database. The AE Database is a revolutionary tool for those who understand it. It is helping these collectors and dealers find obscure, unfamiliar material, make financially rational buying and selling decisions, write descriptions, and build unique collections. To put it another way, it is giving those collectors and dealers who know how to use the database a major leg up on their fellows who don’t.

What is holding back some collectors and dealers, perhaps you included, from using this amazing tool? Probably the technology. Admit it. Most of us tend to be somewhat technophobic. We all know that we need to learn how better to use the internet, computers, databases and the like. However, most of us put this off as long we can, even though it leaves us at a disadvantage to our cutting edge competitors. But, once we get used to the new technology, we can’t live without it.

When’s the last time you rode your horse to work? Scrubbed your clothes on a washboard and hung them out to dry? Sent a message by Morse code? When’s the last time you searched through piles of bibliographies, old bookseller catalogs or auction records, trying to find data, prices, or descriptions of rare books, trekked off to some distant research library to find this material, or, more likely, just assumed that this information was either not available or far too difficult to come by? Your answer to question four can and now should be the same as it is to the first three.

We’ve written many articles on how to use the database, and there’s a complete tour offered from our homepage. You probably haven’t read any of them. We understand. Reading instructions is painful. Nevertheless, you really can’t afford to fall behind technologically. So, this month we are starting a project that we believe will make it easy for you to understand the AE Database. Four of us, who run the gamut from major book collectors and curators to people who never owned a book that wasn’t a “reading copy,” show how we are using the AE Database to locate all kinds of information. No instruction manuals; just easily readable stories on how we (and you) can use this Database. Rest assured, like you, none of us is a technology wizard. If we can use this database, anyone can. We know that once you see what ordinary souls such as we can easily do with the database, you’ll realize that you can too. Then there will be no turning back. Welcome to the 21st Century!

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <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.

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