• <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.
  • <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Renaissance Manuscript featuring two Dialogues by Plato, with translation from the Greek and learned discourse by Leonardo Bruni, called Aretino. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> Isaac Newton on the plague. Autograph Manuscript, being Newton's notes on reading Van Helmont's "De Peste." $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("A. Einstein"), to "Die 'A.E. Group' in New York" humorously accepting his role as patron saint, and offering a motto for their members. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> LOBACHEVSKY, NIKOLAI. Document Signed ("Lobachevsky"), and accomplished in Manuscript, a letter of designation in his role as Curator of Regional Education in Kazan. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WITTGENSTEIN, LUDWIG. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ludwig Wittgenstein") to Moritz Schlick discussing Gödel's incompleteness theorems. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. Autograph Letter Signed ("Ch Darwin") to Alexander Agassiz regarding gradation of structure in pediculariæ. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Essential Genius:<br>Ten Important Manuscripts<br>For Modern Times<br>Online June 1 – 10, 2020</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> PAULI, WOLFGANG; BOHM, DAVID. Typed Letter Signed ("W. Pauli") to physicist David Bohm offering his second and final critique of Bohm's hugely influential 1952 paper. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> WHITMAN, WALT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Walt Whitman"), a draft of the final lines to his final poem "A Thought of Columbus." $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> KANT, IMMANUEL. Autograph Quotation Signed ("Immanuel Kant"), from an album amicorum. <i>"Quod petis in te est, ne te quaesiveris extra."</i> $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun. 1 – 10:</b> CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE. Photograph Signed ("Mark Twain") and Inscribed, with the witty aphorism, "Admonitions—harvested from the wisdom of the ages: Physician, heal thyself. Patient, heel thyself." $10,000 to $15,000.
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Newton (Sir Isaac). <i>Opticks…,</i> first edition, presentation copy to Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and with his ink and pencil annotations. £300,000 to £400,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Aliotti (Girolamo). <i>Gratulatio ad Pium II pro foelici, ac secundo ex Mantuana peregrinatione reditu…,</i> illuminated manuscript on fine vellum, in Latin, Florence, 1460. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Sangorski (Alberto).- Keats (John). <i>La Belle Dame sans Merci...,</i> illuminated manuscript on vellum, magnificently bound in morocco elaborately tooled in gilt & inlaid with 137 jewels, 1928. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Miniature Book.- Taylor (John). <i>Verbum sempiternum [&] Salvator mundi,</i> 2 parts in 1, contemporary embroidered dos a dos binding, 1614. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Bodoni.- Rossi (Giovanni Gherado de). <i>Scherzi Poetici e Pittorici,</i> with original gouache drawings bound in, Neoclassical red straight-grain morocco, gilt, Parma, Bodoni, 1795. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Palladio (Andrea). <i>I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura,</i> first edition, Venice, Domenico de' Franceschi, 1570. £14,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Voyages.- Lowther (Rear Admiral Marcus, 1820-1908). An album of 166 original watercolours and drawings made on voyages between 1842 and 1853. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection,</i> third edition (seventh thousand), presentation copy to Robert Colgate, John Murray, 1861. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Jane Austen's Family - ?C[ooper] (E[dward], married Jane Leigh (1736-83), sister of Cassandra Leigh (1739-1827), married George Austen (1731-1805), parents of Jane Austen. Miscellanies, poems dated btwn. 1750-88.
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. June 9, 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Americas.- Herrera y Tordesillas (Antonio). <i>Novus orbis, sive descriptio Indiae occidentalis,</i> 4 parts in 1 vol., Amsterdam, Colijn, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Canada.- Baker (Lt. Col. Sir Edward). An Eye Sketch of the Fall of Niagara, [c. 1795.] £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jun. 9:</b> Dance.- Caroso (Fabrizio). <i>Il Ballarino,</i> first edition, Venice, Francesco Ziletti, 1581. £5,000 to £7,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

AltaVista RIP

Altavista98

Alta Vista during its heyday.

This is not a story about books. There... now that I have lost most of my readers, I can write about whatever I want. This is about how access to information changes. Once slowly, changes now flash by as quickly as you can unwind an 8-track tape. And yes, there are comparisons to bookselling.

The 1990s began with small bookshops trying to fight off the large chains. It ended with the chains trying to fend off internet sellers. It all happens so fast. A few become large, the rest either disappear or find a niche where they can outperform the giants. There really isn't much other space. Evolve or die applies to bookselling as surely as it does to dinosaurs. And to the internet. We are entering another time of change for bookselling, but that is an issue for another day. For now, we will take a look back at an early giant of the internet. RIP, AltaVista.

My own introduction to the internet came in the second half of the 1990s. There were lots of alternatives if you wanted to search that vast universe of information out there you never could access before. An internet search was filled with excitement then. Basically, there were two types of search sites. There were the directories. Frequently compiled by hand, they placed links to sites under topic headings. Yahoo had the most notable one, but there was LookSmart, Overture and thousands of smaller ones, the bigger ones trying to extract a fee from the sites they listed, the others hoping to get by on advertising. Does anyone ever use a directory any more?

The second way to search the internet was through a search engine. There were lots, each with its own formula. America Online (AOL), which was the largest online service provider in the era of dial-up, and their largest competitor, CompuServe, also provided search. So did early dial-up rival Prodigy. Non-service provider search engines were all over. Yahoo had a search engine as well as a directory. And there was Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, MSN, Snap, Ask Jeeves, HotBot, Inktomi, Webcrawler, and many others I have forgotten. But, the best of the lot was AltaVista. Most of the others were web portals, as Yahoo and AOL still are today. They provided news and everything else, search being just one feature. Not AltaVista. They offered search, that's all, but were the best at it. Sound familiar? Whatever their formula, and each search engine had its algorithm, AltaVista provided the best matches. I don't recall anyone ever turning AltaVista into a verb. I never said I was “Altavista-ing” anything, but I AltaVistaed a lot of topics in the late 1990s.

AltaVista was born in 1996. It was the child of Digital Equipment Corporation, another great tech name from the past. It moved on to Compaq in 1998 when DEQ was sold, then to CMGI. Remember CMGI? Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, was originally named CMGI Field. That's how big CMGI was. The Patriots never played a game on CMGI field. By the time construction was completed, the internet bubble burst and CMGI could no longer afford the naming rights. Those rights moved on to safety razor manufacturer Gillette. What an ironic backward twist of technology that was. In 2003, AltaVista moved on to Overture, which itself was taken over by Yahoo later that year. It has remained there ever since. At least until July 8, 2013. That is when Yahoo shut it down. Rest in peace, AltaVista.

At the turn of the millennium, one of my jobs involved finding websites, directories and search engines to post links to my employer's website. Search engines might not know your website existed if you didn't tell them. One day in performing my AltaVista searches for sites I didn't know, I came across a new search engine with a funny name. It was called “Google.” Obviously, you can guess the rest of this story. AltaVista had turned itself into a web portal like Yahoo and AOL, Lycos and Excite, its owners believing there was a greater audience for these multi-purpose sites. Google was like the original AltaVista. Even today, while Google offers much more, its home page remains a simple search page, just as it was when I first stumbled across it. AltaVista later returned to simplicity, but by then it was too late.

Why did Google become such a huge success, eventually crowding everyone else either out of the business or to minor status? Today, Bing, successor to Live, successor to MSN, still competes. Parent Microsoft can afford to compete. It is a distant second. If someone else still competes, it escapes me. AOL uses Google searches; Yahoo uses Bing's searches. Truth be told, in recent years AltaVista just used Yahoo/Bing searches. Google swamped everyone else. How? They used a formula that determined which sites were most popular, rather than those which just matched your search terms most often. I didn't know about algorithms at the time. What I did notice was that I got better matches, better even than AltaVista. I switched. I don't recall anyone else I knew knowing about Google then. I had just stumbled upon it and found it significantly better. Obviously, in the years ahead, just about everyone else had the same experience. It was noticeably better, enough so to switch. Microsoft and Bing offer a capable search engine, but they have never been able to match that first Google experience, no matter how much they tell us their searches are better. Maybe they are better as claimed, but they just don't seem that different. You need a reason to change.

What does this have to do with bookselling? Not much directly. It's just a reminder of how quickly things can change. The heyday of AltaVista in many ways matched the heyday of internet bookselling. The internet opened customers all over the world to every small town bookseller. Dozens of book listing sites appeared. The Advanced Book Exchange (now AbeBooks), Alibris, successor to the pioneering Interloc, and Amazon were the largest and still are. Most of the others either disappeared or soldier on in irrelevancy, though European ZVAB, later arrival Biblio, and a few local sites are still significant. However, none can perform quite as they did when internet bookselling was new. Buyers were accessing this incredible new medium for the first time and filling their shelves with books they never thought they would find. Meanwhile, the price of listing was incredibly cheap, often just a small percentage of the sales price if, and only if, the book sold. Today, listing is more expensive, the number of books listed competing for attention far greater, and sales harder to come by. It's no longer easy. The bookseller needs to adapt. Adapt or perish. Adapt or become AltaVista.  


Posted On: 2013-08-01 00:00
User Name: PeterReynolds

I used AlltheWeb.com a.k.a. Fast.no . It was better than Google in Google's early days. It had a larger number of results and I don't think Google had as good previewing of sites. See http://web.archive.org/web/20061227221338/http://fastsearch.com=63&amid=1383


Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
  • <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 3. Ritter's fascinating sundial world map (1610). $11500 to $13000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 590. Ruscelli's complete, third edition atlas (1574). $8000 to $10000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 184. Superb pictorial map of Manhattan (1953). $700 to $850
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 5. Visscher's superb world map in contemporary color (1658). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 48. Sanson's highly desirable atlas of the Americas with 15 maps (1699). $5500 to $6500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 292. Very rare zoomorphic map of Europe during WWII (1939). $1800 to $2100
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 89. Rare map of the new United States prior to signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783). $3000 to $4000
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 597. Manuscript geography book with 9 maps and colorful commentary (1834). $1500 to $2500
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 588. Land grant signed by Confederate General John Buchanan Floyd (1851). $350 to $425
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 593. First printed atlas to contain a separate map of Texas (1835). $2500 to $3250
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 297. Charming Beatles map of Liverpool (1974). $475 to $600
    <b>Old World Auctions (June 3-10):</b><br> Lot 591. Miniature atlas with 82 maps based on Duval (1678). $5500 to $6500
  • <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

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