Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2006 Issue

Holiday Shopping Ideas for the Collector

Rosenbach.wolf

If you only read one this is the one.


By Bruce McKinney

The opportunities to find interesting material for the book collector have never been greater. Neither have the options for bidding and buying been better. How you approach the holidays though depends on perspective. A collector will consider all the options but when you buy for a collector it's more complicated. Here goes an effort to simplify it.

If you are buying for a collector it is always a good idea to talk to them about it. "I'd like to buy you something for the collection" expresses both interest and support and often they can point you in the right direction. Collecting is after all an uncertain process even to the collector and support for the endeavor often more important than any specific object. A collector's dealers will often have ideas, will appreciate your interest and try to provide something appropriate. If you can contact them they will be helpful.

Relatively inexpensive gifts that are much appreciated are dealer, collector and auction house histories and biographies. Reading about the chase is often as interesting as engaging in it and always less expensive. The best biography of a book dealer ever written is Rosenbach, a Biography by Edwin Wolf 2nd with John F. Fleming. Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach [1876 - 1952] was an exceptional dealer in the exceptional era of book collecting in America. Wolf and Fleming recreate his life and remember his significance. It is in itself, in the first edition, a collectible book and an exceptional read. There is no better book to give. There are nine copies of various editions available in the Books for Sale database right here on AE. See Books For Sale.

If you are looking for coffee table books think about Adventures in Americana 1492-1897. This is a selection of books from the library of Hershel V. Jones. Two volumes describing 300 items, each illustrated, was issued in 1928. A checklist was offered as a third volume in 1938. At many levels this is an important set for collectors. The material is both interesting and well illustrated and there are just enough errors to make the set an intellectual challenge. The material, while American, is eclectic so there is a chance several items the collector owns will be mentioned, at least in the third volume. This set is available as a reprint but I prefer the original. The two volumes printed in 1928 are understood to be part of a limited run of 200. See Books For Sale.

One of the most useful resources extant is "A History of American Magazines" by Frank Luther Mott. Everyone who collects encounters ephemera. When it's early magazines you find they can be difficult to understand and value. I prefer the five volume version and am wearing out my set which was printed in 1957. Volume I covering magazines printed in continental America between 1741 and 1850 is most useful but I also use volumes II and III. The later volumes cover more recent material. In Books for Sale there is one very good set with dust jackets. See Books For Sale.

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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