Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2010 Issue

Colorado Book Seminar Scheduled; Display of Forgeries at the Rosenbach

This fake playbill was supposedly found near Lincoln's seat the night he was assassinated.


By Michael Stillman

The 32nd annual Antiquarian Book Seminar is scheduled for August 8-13, 2010, at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. This seminar carries a reputation as one of the best places to learn all about the book trade. It is not so much a place for amateurs as for booksellers looking to raise their skills and knowledge to the highest level. Some of the deans of the trade are among the instructors, including the founder of the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia, Terry Belanger. Among the topics covered are finding, evaluating and pricing books, buying and selling online and at auction, selling to libraries, setting up a database and creating a website, conservation and preservation, identifying forgeries and theft, and writing descriptions. Those who sign up before May 1 will receive a $100 discount. To learn all about the Colorado seminars, go to www.bookseminars.com.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library's ongoing exhibition on fakes, Friend or Faux: Imitation and Invention from Innocent to Fraudulent, has been updated to display a series of new items. The Philadelphia institution, once home of famed bookseller A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip, will continue the display until July 11, 2010. The exhibit is focused on all types of fakes, from deliberately created frauds to innocent copies made for personal use that may have unintentionally fooled others later on.

Among the items on display is a fake playbill from Ford's Theater, supposedly picked up off the floor near President Lincoln's chair that fateful night. It came with an affidavit from the theater owner that it was real, but it was a fake anyway. These playbills are referred to as "Buckingham Reprints" after the doorkeeper who sold the facsimiles. Tacky.

There are some of William Henry Ireland's outrageous forgeries of Shakespeare, from the turn of the 19th century. Ireland's father was a devoted Shakespeare collector, which led William to conclude there could be some good money in "discovering" new Shakespeare items. He started using old paper and ink to create fairly innocuous documents with Shakespeare's "signature," but when he realized his father and others' gullibility, he began to expand his production. William Ireland began producing manuscript Shakespeare plays with his margin notes, love letters, and finally, an entirely new Shakespearean play. It was actually put on at a London theater, but it bombed. Ireland was a great forger, but not so good a writer.

Another item on display is a letter from Thomas Jefferson to artist Gilbert Stuart, most famous for his Washington portrait, a copy of which everyone with a dollar to his name possesses. Supposedly, Jefferson wrote the letter in an attempt to retrieve his own portrait so he could make copies. However, it turns out the letter itself is a copy, produced by Jefferson's "polygraph," a mechanical copying device used in the days before electronic copiers were invented.

The Rosenbach also has several seminars and talks planned, including one on May 8 that will help book collectors and sellers understand how books and prints are determined to be fakes. For more on the exhibit you can visit their site by clicking here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.

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