Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2003 Issue

It’s Old, But Is It Valuable?

1psword

General Jackson's sword is presented to Congress


I first went to the Americana Exchange Database (ÆD) to see what I could learn about these titles. The answer was not much. When older works like these, particularly steeped in American history, barely even show up in the ÆD, it means one of two things: (1) this book is so rare that the great bibliographers missed it, and the great book dealers and auction houses never had a copy to sell, or (2) the book is so commonplace that the bibliographers thought it unimportant and the value so low that booksellers didn’t think it worthy of space in their catalogues. Unfortunately, the latter is more likely to be the case.

Only one listing for either of these books showed up in the ÆD. That was for the King book in Sabin’s extensive Bibliotheca Americana. Sabin didn’t miss much, although he did miss Jackson’s sword. However, I did find one variant from the Sabin record. Sabin showed the printer of King as Beverley Tucker. Beverley Tucker did print my Jackson book, but King was printed by one Robert Armstrong. Maybe this will add to its value?

Next stop was to look at Abebooks.com. This is the world’s largest online old book retailer, with over 40 million books up for sale. Here’s where you can tell whether a book is rare or common. Here’s where your dreams die.

Fifteen copies of King are for sale, with prices ranging from $10-$125. Most are under $30. And the Armstrong printing appears equally as common as the Tucker printing. Based on the descriptions, I’d say mine fits in with the $15 copies. And while I see some of the sellers describe this title as “rare,” “unusual,” and “hard to locate,” I assume they’re just kidding.

However, there is one collector who should have this piece. Anyone collecting political works concerning Alabama needs this book. There’s not a lot out there about King, but he is a major figure in Alabama’s history. After serving in the House of Representatives as a representative from North Carolina, King emigrated to Alabama, served at the convention called to write their constitution, was one of the state’s first two senators, and served in the Senate almost continuously (with the exception of a stint as Ambassador to France) from 1819 until illness forced him to resign in 1852, three months before being sworn in as vice-president. I don’t know whether this obscure figure is still remembered in Alabama, but he should be.

As for my other title, Andrew Jackson is still well remembered, even if his sword has been forgotten. Congress, having no place to display the sword, transferred it to the Smithsonian in 1922. However, my book remains in circulation. Twenty-three copies can be found on Abebooks for prices ranging from $6.00 to $62.50. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the lower and higher priced copies. Perhaps my copy is worth $15.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Focus on Women<br>June 2, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann June 2:</b> Susan B. Anthony & Ida Husted Harper, <i>The History of Woman Suffrage,</i> first edition set, New York, 1881-1922. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann June 2:</b> Georgia Douglass Johnson, <i>Bronze: a Book of Verse,</i> first edition, Boston, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann June 2:</b> Elaine Fried de Kooning, small archive of material. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Focus on Women<br>June 2, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann June 2:</b> Helena Bochoráková-Dittrichová, <i>Z Mého Detství Drevoryty,</i> first edition, Prague, 1929. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Swann June 2:</b> Chicago Women’s Graphics Collective, <i>Cry Out,</i> silkscreen poster, Chicago, 1972. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann June 2:</b> Pearl S. Buck, <i>The Good Earth,</i> first edition, New York, 1931. $3,000 to $5,000.
  • <b><center>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Old master, modern and contemporary art<br>Maps & Orientalia<br>8th-9th-10th of June 2022
    <b>Gonnelli Auction House:</b> Giuseppe Aloja, Veduta di Napoli dalla parte di Chiaia. Starting price: € 1650
    <b>Gonnelli Auction House:</b> Abraham Ortelius, Mappa dell'Atlantico del Nord. Starting price: € 280
    <b>Gonnelli Auction House:</b> Max Klinger, Für alle. 1884. Starting price: € 360
    <b>Gonnelli Auction House:</b> Katsushita Taito II, Kacho gaden. Starting price: € 320
    <b>Gonnelli Auction House:</b> Blub, Galileo Galilei. Starting price: € 100
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>Initial A on vellum, Cologne around 1300. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Androuet du Cerceau, <i> Bastiments de France,</i> 1607. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Cerillo, <i>Dipinti murali di Pompei,</i> 1886. Est: €2,500
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>L. de Austria, <i>Compilatio de astrorum scientia,</i> 1489. Est: €9,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>B. Besler, <i>Hortus Eystettensis,</i> around 1750. Est: €50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br><i>PAN,</i> 1895-1900. Est: €15,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1545. Est: €40,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Schiller, <i>Die Räuber,</i> 1781. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Albers, <i>Formulation : Articulation,</i> 1972. Est: €18,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>G. B. Ramusio, <i>Delle navigationi e viaggi,</i> 1556-1613. Est: €14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>M. Wied Neuwied, <i>Reise in das Innere Nord-America,</i> 1839-41. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Paolozzi, <i>Bunk,</i> 1972. Est: €25,000
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br> The Library of Henry Rogers<br>Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven<br>Part I<br>18 May 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> John James Audubon and James Bachman. <i>The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848. £150,000 to £250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Thomas and William Daniell. <i>Oriental Scenery,</i> London, 1795-1807 [but 1841], 6 parts in 3 volumes, folio. £150,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Mark Catesby. <i>The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands...</i> London, 1731-1743, 2 volumes. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Gould and Lear. <i>A monograph of the Ramphastidae,</i> 1854; <i>Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae,</i> 1832. £60,000 to £90,000.

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