Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2010 Issue

Too Good to be True

Wp-1862-b

It looks good from a distance


By Bruce McKinney

On eBay a month or so ago I ran across a Currier & Ives print of West Point, an original folio print printed in 1862. The print was interesting, its size unusual. It was described this way:

Original 1862 Currier and Ives Lithograph West Point. Original Lithograph Currier and Ives of U. S. Military Academy, West Point (from opposite shore). Great condition Measures 18" W X 15" H. Writing on Lithograph. "Entered according to act of Congress 1862 by Currier and Ives, in the Clerk's office in the district court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

Another similar Lithograph from West Point 1862 is selling for $2,300 on line. "New York, Published by Currier and Ives 152 Nassau St."


In the Currier & Ives Catalogue Raisonne by Gale Research [1984] its number 6945 described as "View of West Point" . Publisher: CC. [the work of Charles Currier, brother of Nathanial Currier]

Four images were provided, none showing the entire piece. I've been buying on eBay for seven years and become accustomed to accurate descriptions and sellers who are quick to remedy problems although they rarely occur. I sailed on into this transaction expecting more of the same.

The lithograph was offered with a starting price of $250 and I didn't bid. Later I bought it on a Buy-It-Now basis for $275.

When it arrived the frame was loose in the box, surprising for a glass item to be casually packed. I could hear broken glass and decided nevertheless to open the box, assuming and expecting if the print was undamaged I'd keep it. I usually reframe images anyway and invariably replace used den glass. The glass was therefore unimportant.

The image I found had scratches, whether from broken glass irrelevant, because the image was neither original nor even anything serious. It was a very poor copy and obviously a modern reprint.

I then contacted the seller through eBay and was asked to submit a claim to the Post Office as the package was insured. I did as requested, obtaining a form for Domestic or International Claims with the Postal Service, which I then sent to the seller [who was the ensured party]. He responded saying that I would be paid when he was paid. I then filed a claim with eBay. There were two issues:

The image was a fake. The seller could claim he didn't know this but I found a printed statement to that effect on the back of the image. This was easy to see because the tacks securing the back were loose as if they had been recently removed and reinserted. Opening the back took perhaps 30 seconds.

The second issue was that the frame was barely packed. A few sheets of crumpled paper was all the protection provided and the box much larger than the framed image. No one ships a glass frame this way.

In filing a claim with eBay I initially found it hard to understand how to proceed. My son Tom however could see what I couldn't. Under HELP there's an option for RESOLUTION CENTER. I started there. With some trial and error I was eventually offered a phone number that was good for 15 minutes. I called and found that while eBay was careful about its time it wasn't careful with mine. I was on hold for a long time.

It was then explained to me by someone, who seemed trained in calming frayed nerves, that I would have to wait seven days to allow the seller to resolve the issue. I could then contact eBay again, re-explain the problem and fax a copy of the Post Office claim form I had obtained. I made a note on my calendar.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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