• <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Greco (Gioachino). <i>Primo modo del gioco de Partito…</i> Manuscript, France, 1624 or 1625. A collection of partiti, or 'chess problems' by one of the most important figures in the history of chess. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Herodotus. <i>Historiae,</i> translated into Latin by Lorenzo Valla and edited by Antonio Mancinelli. Venice, 1494. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Darwin (Charles). Autograph Letter signed to his cousin Reginald Darwin, Down, Beckenham, Kent, 27th March 1879. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Nicolay (Nicolas de). <i>The Navigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkie,</i> first edition in English, Imprinted at London by Thomas Dawson, 1585. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Saint-Exupéry (Antoine de). <i>The Little Prince,</i> number 66 of 525 copies signed by the author, 1943. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Catlin (George, 1796-1872). Tuch-ee, A Celebrated War Chief of the Cherokees, watercolour, [circa 1834]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Genetics.- A collection of c.300 pamphlets on genetics comprising many of the major contributions from the first half of the 20th century. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> India.- Rajasthan.- Kota School (probably late 18th c.). Elephant in a landscape with chains around his feet, brush and black ink with opaque pigments. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Commelin (Caspar). <i>Horti medici Amstelaedamensis plantae rariores et exoticae,</i> first edition, 48 finely hand-coloured engraved plates, Leiden, F.Haringh, 1706. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Plague-water and cookery & medical recipes.- Jackson (Mrs Sarah). Medical and cookery recipes, manuscript in several hands, title and 134pp., 1688-1755. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Vernet (<i>After</i> Joseph, 1714-1789). <i>[Vues des ports de France],</i> sixteen plates (of 18), etchings and engravings by Charles Nicolas Cochin fils and Jacques Philippe Le Bas, [c.1760-1780]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Detmold (Edward Julius, 1883-1957). Parrots and Butterflies, watercolour. £2,500 to £3,500.
  • <b>Koller Auctions: Books & Autographs. March 26, 2019</b>
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Jacques Gamelin. <i>Nouveau recueil d'osteologie et de myologie, dessine d'apres nature...</i> 2 parts in 1 vol., large folio, 82 copper plates. CHF 12,000 to 18,000
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Melchior Pfintzing. <i>Die geverlicheiten und einsteils geschichten des loblichen streytparen...</i> 118 woodcut engravings, first edition. CHF 30,000 to 50,000
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Book of hours. Handwritten Latin text on vellum. With 17 large miniatures, Flanders, c.1460. CHF 70,000 to 90,000
    <b>Koller Auctions, Mar 26:</b> Maria Sibylla Merian. <i> Dissertatio de generatione et metamorphosibus insectorum Surinamensium,</i> 72 copper plates, Den Haag, 1726. CHF 60,000 to 90,000
  • <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 7: John Blackbridge. <i>The Complete Poker Player.</i> New York, 1875. First Edition. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 14: Garrett Brown. <i>How to Beat the Game.</i> New York, 1903. $100 to $200.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 22: Anthony Comstock. <i>Frauds Exposed.</i> New York, 1880. $300 to $500.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 35: S.W. Erdnase. <i>The Expert at the Card Table.</i> Chicago: Author, 1902. First edition. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 41: [Gerritt Evans] “A Retired Professional,” pseudo. <i>How Gamblers Win.</i> New York, ca. 1870s. $250 to $350.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 54: Jonathan Harrington Green. <i>An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling.</i> Cincinnati, 1843. First edition. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 277: Phil Farley. <i>Criminals Of America Illustrated.</i> New York, 1876. $50 to $100.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 228: <i>The English Rogue: Described in the Life of Meriton Latroon, a Witty Extravagant: Comprising the Most Eminent Cheats of Both Sexes.</i> London, 1666; 1671; 1680. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 219: Abraham De Moivre. <i>The Doctrine of Chances: or, a Method of Calculating the Probabilities of Events in Play.</i> London, 1718. First edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 95: Barabbas Whitefeather, pseudo. <i>The Handbook of Swindling.</i> London, 1839. Presentation copy, inscribed. $900 to $1,300.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 134: <i>Poker Chips: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Stories of the Great American Game.</i> New York, 1896. Five issues. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Potter & Potter Auctions, Mar 30:</b><br>Lot 87: Harry Houdini. <i>The Right Way to Do Wrong.</i> Boston, 1906. $150 to $250.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2010 Issue

Where "Coverless" and "Foxed" are Positive Selling Features

Restbookbundle

Coverless book bundles, as offered by Restoration Hardware.


By Michael Stillman

When is a book more desirable after its covers have been torn from the pages? When are terms such as "foxed" and "faded" a positive selling feature? Welcome to the new world of books as art. Wait long enough and just about anything can get turned upside down.

Books have been collected as objects of art at least as far back as Jean Grolier, who put together his library almost five centuries ago. In those days books did not come with covers. That was left to the owner, and Grolier responded by binding his in fine leather, with ornaments, gilding and the like. For Grolier it was more than just an attempt to make his house look nice. It was a reflection of how he valued books and the knowledge contained within.

In the 19th century, the concept of fine press books began to take root. Printers such as the legendary Kelmscott began to produce decorative books, works of art straight off the press. The fine presses would generally pick classic titles, but their editions, usually printed in short runs, were really meant more to be appreciated as physical objects, such as paintings, than to be read. If you wanted to read the book, you probably bought a standard edition so you wouldn't deface the fine copy. The wealthier collectors of books as art purchased titles from fine presses such as Kelmscott or Grabhorn, those without much money might opt for a collectible edition from the Franklin Mint. Usually such collectors had an appreciation for the author's writing, or at least believed they ought to, even if they never actually read the work. Still, their intention was to place something of beauty and erudition on their shelves.

In the past decade we have seen the development of books as art taken to another level, one where the text became totally irrelevant. This was the "books by the foot" phenomenon. These are books that are purchased by size, a foot of books, a yard of books, whatever. You don't even know what titles you will receive. The only promise is that the covers will look nice and you won't get two copies of the same book. There is no pretense of the buyer having any interest in the content. Any thought of interest in the content clearly disappears when the buyer does not know or even care what books he is buying, though stacking such books on your shelf may imply an attempt to convince others of an interest in their content.

Now this concept has been taken a step further. Restoration Hardware, a highly respected name in the field of fixtures and such for older homes, is offering "antique coverless book bundles." These are bundles of books with their covers missing ("liberated from their covers"), tied together with string. It is what you would do to bring them to a recycling center. They are what the trade would refer to as "reading copies" (or some dealers as "...otherwise very good"). Noting that these bundles are "rich with texture and intrigue," Restoration Hardware explains, "Liberated from their covers, stitched and bound with jute twine, the foxed and faded pages of old books become objêts d'art." This is the first time I've seen "foxed" used as a compliment. "Foxy," yes, but not "foxed." Nevertheless, that little roof symbol over the "e" in "objêts d'art" seals the deal that this is something of high class.

Maybe I shouldn't be put off by these bundles. In these days of electronic readers, perhaps we should be thankful for any use someone finds for printed texts. And, maybe this isn't all that different from what Grolier, or Kelmscott or Grabhorn did. It is just taken to a different level. We traveled down the road from pre-washed to pre-faded jeans, and finally, to "new" pairs that already had holes in them. These books are sort of like the jeans that come with holes already there. Bad is good. One word that does not jump out in my mind to describe either these bundles or holy jeans is "authentic." The traditionalist in me says that old books missing their covers should get that way from use, not because some big cutting machine sliced off their covers. Still, with millions of old books out there that circumstances have now made virtually worthless, maybe it is good that they now have one more chance to find their way into people's homes. Frankly, my book collection just got a lot more valuable.

If you would like to purchase some coverless books for your shelves, they are available for $29 per bundle. Click here to order yours.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. March 29 & 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> QUAST, Pieter Jansz. - [A Quack doctor on a market square.] €3.500 to €4.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b><br>"Il Callotto resuscitato. Oder Ne¸ eingerichtes Zwerchen Cabinet." €6.000 to €7.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> MELLISS, Mrs. John Charles - 135 compositions of which 66 used to illustrate John Melliss' work on Saint Helena. €9.000 to €10.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. March 29 & 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> LUCA, Ghérasim. - <i>Apostroph' apocalypse. Eaux-fortes de Wifredo Lam.</i> €3.000 to €4.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> REDOUTÉ, Pierre-Joseph - <i>Les Roses. Décrites par C.A. Thory.</i> €3.000 to €4.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> CORONELLI, Vincenzo - A magnificent pair of globes, terrestrial and celestial. €175.000 to €250.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. March 29 & 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> BLAEU, Joan - <i>Le Grand Atlas, ou Cosmographie Blaviaene, en laquelle est exactement descritte la Terre, la Mer, et le Ciel.</i> €170.000 to €250.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> GOULD, John - A century of birds from the Himalaya mountains. €10.000 to €12.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> LEVAILLANT, François - Histoire naturelle des perroquets. €50.000 to €70.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. March 29 & 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> MAXIMILIAN III JOSEPH - Patent of nobility. €800 to €1.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> Manuale parochiale sacerdotum. €800 to €1.200
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Mar 29 & 30:</b> LONGUS - Les amours pastorales de Daphnis et Chloé. €1.250 to €1.500
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Books & Illustrated Art including Cartoons. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Silver Binding.- [Torah], German 13 Loth silver binding, hinged clasp, 12mo, Sulzbach, 1805. £2,500 to £3,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Picasso (Pablo). Minotaure vaincu, plate 89 from La Suite Vollard, etching, dated 29 May 1933, pencil, plate 190 x 265 mm, Paris, A. Vollard, 1939. £5,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Dali (Salvador) & Alighieri (Dante). <i>La Divina Commedia,</i> 6 vols, NUMBER 478 of 2,900 copies, 100 numbered colour lithograph plates by Salvador Dalì, folio, Verona, 1963-1964. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Books & Illustrated Art including Cartoons. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Miniature Sepher Torah Nevi'im U'Kethuvim, prepared by Menachem M. Scholz, original cloth, housed within original gilt tooled metal case, with magnifying glass inset, 33x25 mm, Warsaw, c. 1880. £1,200 to £1,800.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Scarfe (Gerald). ‘Men of Snow’ [Tony Blair, William Hague & 'Robin' Cook], original ink, watercolour & gouache drawing, signed, 600 x 435 mm, n.d. with 2 others (3). £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Francklyn (Gilbert), Paine (Thomas). <i>Rights of Man…</i>, FIRST EDITION [and] <i>Rights of Man. Part the Second…,</i> Printed for J. S. Jordan, 1791-92, [and 1 other]. £700 to £1,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Books & Illustrated Art including Cartoons. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Chagall (Marc). Le Jeu des Acrobates (Acrobats at Play), HORS COMMERCE PROOF, lithograph, from The Lithographs of Chagall, 320 x 240 mm, André Sauret, 1963. £1,800 to £2,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> [Harris (John)]. <i>The History of The Old Woman who had Three Sons Jerry, James, and John…,</i> 12mo, J. Harris, 1815. £200 to £300
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Royal Binding.- Staël-Holstein (Germaine de). <i>De la littèrature considerée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales…,</i> 2 vols, second edition, Crapelet, Paris, [1801]. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Books & Illustrated Art including Cartoons. March 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Ancient History.- La Baune (Jacques de). <i> Panegyrici Veteres,</i> Paris, 1676. [with] Wesseling (Petrus, ed.). <i> Vetera Romanorum itineraria…</i> £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Edward (Gibbon). <i> History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire…</i> Multiple editions and languages [English and French]. £300 to £400
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar 28:</b> Curtis (William). <i> Flora Londinensis,</i> FIRST EDITION, 2 vols in 3. 119 hand-coloured plates of 454. £500 to £700
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> <i>The Negro Travelers' Green Book,</i> edited by Victor H. Green, New York, 1958. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Phillis Wheatley, <i>Poems on Various Subjects, Religious & Moral,</i> London, 1773. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> David Ruggles, <i>The Mirror of Liberty,</i> first issue of the first magazine edited by an African American, New York, 1838. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Lorraine Hansberry, <i>A Raisin in the Sun,</i> draft typescript, inscribed by the playwright, circa 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Pair of letterpress broadsides for Ira Aldridge’s historic first 2 performances at London’s Theatre Royal, 1833. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Archive of letters to John Augustine Washington III at Mount Vernon, many of which discuss the lives of enslaved persons, 1837-61. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Important archive of letters and photographs of Charles White and his spouse, Frances B. White, 1956-60. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Papers of educator Sister Makinya Sibeko-Kouate, one of the leading popularizers of Kwanzaa, 1940-1975. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Stock certificate of the Negro Factories Corporation, signed by Marcus Garvey, 1920. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Benjamin Banneker, <i>Bannaker’s Maryland . . . Almanack and Ephemeris, for the Year of our Lord 1796,</i> Baltimore, 1795. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> Frederick Douglass, previously unknown carte-de-visite by Samuel M. Fassett, Washington DC, 1878. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 28:</b> <i>First Annual Report of the New York Committee of Vigilance,</i> New York, 1837. $3,000 to $4,000.

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