• <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <b>Gonnelli:</b> Books & Graphics 26th – 27th – 28th May 2020.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 27th, Travel and exploration.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 27th, Musical books, autographs & printed music.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 26th, A collection of Piranesi’s etchings. € 50 to € 16000.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Books from XV to XX Century.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Hansel and Gretel and other stories by the brothers Grimm illustrated by Kay Nielsen. € 1000.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Artists’ books from Dalì, Marini & others.
  • <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Extremely rare, signature of Patrick Ferguson, famed rifle inventor and British officer. $20,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> 1776 Battle of Sullivan's Island watercolor, attributed to James Peale. 11 1/2 x 17 3/16. $10,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> John Hancock-signed commission of Ensign Aaron Butler, 1777. $8,000 to $16,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston, Perpetrated in the Evening of the Fifth Day of March 1770… London, [1770]. $7,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Original manuscript of 1761 Massachusetts Bay Tax Act. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Wine receipt for Washington's Council of War, May 24, 1778, leading to Monmouth Battle. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [Siege of Boston]. “A Muster Roll of The Company Under the Command of Captain Josiah King in Colonel David Brewer’s Regiment, to the First of August, 1775.” $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Congressman Brigham describes George Washington's Mount Vernon estate and its slaves. $3,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [British Army. Uniforms and Organizaton] "Gen[era]l. Disposition of The King’s Troops with the Number, Uniform and Colonel [of Each Regiment, 1763]. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Revolutionary era paper money, continental and state (lot of 55). $2,500 to $5,500.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Rare 1782 loyalist military passport from Charleston, SC. $1,500 to $3,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [Stamp Act.] Rare 1765 stamp for 2 shillings and 6 pence. $1,250 to $2,500.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2007 Issue

A Bookseller's Dream, A Book Seller's Nightmare

Macklin

A typical, non-grangerized version of a Macklin


One piece stands out as perhaps being the most illustrative of the issue. This was a Macklin Bible, from 1800. These usually run six or seven volumes and might be expected to bring £1,000-£2,000. However, this was a very special set. It had been painstakingly built up over many years by the Rev. Franke Parker. When he donated it to the library in the 1880s, it had grown to some 63 folio volumes, taking up 20 feet of shelf space. This was a grangerized Bible, that is to say, one in which Rev. Parker and his predecessors had taken some 9,000-plus illustrations from other books and resources and added them to his Bible. The Bible was rebound to accommodate all of this extra material, as if it were a natural part. It is easy to see why a space-starved working library would want to be rid of a single unused book taking up 20 feet of shelf space. However, a book filled with over 9,000 prints and drawings, all of which must be well over a century old, and some of which were several centuries old, is likely to have some very interesting pieces. When it was taken to Dominic Winter a short time later, it reportedly brought in several serious potential bidders for a viewing, one all the way from Italy. When the hammer went down, the bids had flown way past the estimate of £7,000-£10,000. The final bid was for £47,000, or 30% more than Thornton had paid for the entire library (£55,225 including the auctioneer's commission). We have not been able to confirm this, but it has been reported that the anonymous British phone bidder who won removed perhaps a couple hundred items from the binding and resold the remainder to an American bidder.

As it turned out, this was not the only gem in the Phillpotts library. Several other books also sold for more than Thornton had paid for the whole, including a 1470 Flavius Josephus for £78,000 (more than double the entire library's cost). All told, the auctions have taken in around £500,000 ($1,000,000). That is just what has been auctioned. It is not known whether or how many items from the library Thornton sold privately.

So who has done wrong here? Clearly the library, at the very least, was negligent. They obviously had no idea what the material was worth, but considering its age, and the offer for £36,000, you would think someone would have concluded a bit more investigation was required. The ABA booksellers were ignored. No one contacted an auction house, a most logical step, as they would have no reason to lowball an estimate. Of course, an appraisal by anyone independent, that is, someone not also interested in buying the books, was called for with so many very old books that were obviously worth more than pocket change. There sure seems to be a gross abandonment of fiduciary responsibility here by people more concerned with eliminating a space problem than in being certain to do the best possible for their institution. Foolish and lazy invites disaster, and now, public humiliation. It is hard to say this is undeserved.

What about Thornton? Has he done anything wrong? First, it is not known whether he had an inkling as to what the real value of this library was. Only he knows for sure. He is reported to have said it was dark in the library so examining the books carefully was difficult. Maybe. Still, it took him two years to come back and raise his offer from £35,000 to £36,000, not exactly what you would expect of someone who saw a chance to make a killing. And what if he did know? What are his obligations, if any? That's the age-old ethical question no one who has ever found a bargain in a garage sale, on eBay, or a library sale particularly likes to consider.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species,</i> 1st edition, London, 1859. Original cloth, one of 1,250 copies. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> The Gentleman’s Magazine, or Monthly Intelligencer, 276 volumes, 1731-1894. With all the America maps, and the first British publication of the US Declaration of Independence. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Washington (John). <i>Eskimaux and English Vocabulary, for the Use of the Arctic Expedition,</i> 1st edition, London, 1850. Sabin 101906. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Churchill (Winston S.). <i>Ian Hamilton’s March [and] London to Ladysmith,</i> 1st editions, 1900. Signed by the author. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Wallace (Alfred Russel). <i>Is Mars Habitable?,</i> 1st edition, London, 1907. Extremely rare in the dust jacket. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Montes de Oca (Rafael). <i>Ensayo ornitologico de los Troquilideos o Colibries de Mexico,</i> 1st edition, Mexico City, 1875. With 12 hand-coloured lithographs of hummingbirds. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Agrippa (Camillo). <i>Trattato di scienza d’arme,</i> Venice, 1568. One of 50 lots from the Leon Paul Library of Fencing. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Clarke (Sir Alured, 1744-1832). Manuscript document signed as commander of British forces in Georgia during the American War of Independence, Savannah, 18 June 1782. £300 to £500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> [Slave Narrative]. <i>The Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black, a Fugitive from Slavery,</i> 1st edition, New Bedford MA, 1847. £300 to £500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Finaughty (William). <i>The Recollections of William Finaughty, Elephant Hunter 1864-1875,</i> 1st edition, Philadelphia, [1916]. One of 250 copies. £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Gold (Charles). <i>Oriental Drawings: Sketched between the Years 1791 and 1798,</i> 1st edition, 1806. With 48 fine hand-coloured aquatints. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> George II (1683-1760) & William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764). Manuscript exchequer document signed, 1757. £700 to £1,000.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.

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