• <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
  • <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.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

Your Lying Heart

Tobr

Thieves of Book Row - a great read

Books have for more than a hundred years been common and their principle purpose – to carry information to the interested.   A few among these many volumes have become collectible, the best of them talisman of taste, beauty or priority and sometimes all three.  Such books are sometimes first impressions, others wonderful presentations and annotated copies, others still rare and very rare, the best of them highly collectible.

While books are common the eye to appreciate their finer points and physical attributes is rare.  Everyone has an opinion but only a few have perspective.    For those who ‘know’ the opportunities are many.  For those that don’t the opportunities to make mistakes are limitless.

Such opportunities for the knowledgeable divide between the legal and illegal.  The legal possibilities include browsing books offered for sale, negotiating and buying what you believe to be attractively priced.  More difficult are the situations where the potential buyer is asked to make an offer.  Many dealers prefer that the seller state their price.  At a minimum they want to understand seller expectations and if they can, their perspective on value and price.

Sellers, understandably, will be optimistic and buyers, understandably cautious.  Books sell but not so easily as they once did.  Sellers will refer to their having seen similar things on Abe for thousands and buyers will point out “yes but many other copies were offered for less and, in any event, it is sales, not listings, that matter.”

Because valuing books has always been both an art and a science books have been more subject to theft than objects whose value is implicit.  Gold bars get locked up, iron bars do not and if those working with such material do not understand the difference they may insufficiently protect the valuable objects.  In such circumstances the unethical have historically preyed upon the innocent.  For libraries the primary goal is always to make material accessible while trying to ensure that access is not abused.  The outcome has been increasing security - protecting the material, often the important and sometimes the not, the rare and not and doing so at the expense of the library’s primary mission, to provide access.
  

It is an old problem, probably as old as books themselves and one made more difficult by rising values that incentivize theft.  Into the history of book and document theft we have two books that illuminate the problem, Jeremy Norman’s account of 19th theft [that I wrote about this past month] and now Travis McDade’s account of library theft in the early decades of the 20th century.

Jeremy Norman’s Scientist, Scholar & Scoundrel: A Bibliographical Investigation of the Life and Exploits of Count Guglielmo Libri is the account of the notorious pillager of libraries who enjoyed exceptional access to European libraries in the 19th century and “collected” in the era before consistent documentation existed. He could simply walk off with treasures, often leaving no trace, other times substituting inferior copies for gems.  Collections, in his era [1820-1865] were often defenseless, the Count could not resist and there was no comprehensive system to easily identify a collection’s holdings.  A universal identification system would begin to be implemented in the 1870’s, to make retrieval easier and identify the missing and misplaced.  By that time the Count was retired.
  

Rising concern for security would then require thieves employ more sophisticated approaches.
  

We then cross the Atlantic to New York where in the late 19th century the Astor and Lenox collections were gifted to the New York Public Library and serious efforts made to both provide and control access to what was becoming a world-class collection of old and rare books.  Access versus security would become a long-term issue and the New York Public Library be among the first to try to systematically address the issue.

By the first decades of the 20th century two other factors were altering the stakes.  Institutions were beginning to collect broadly and prices were rising.  The decision to steal is a risk-reward calculation and rising prices made old and collectible books more appealing targets.  Unfortunately prices rose more quickly than institutions responded and it made theft in the early decades of the 20th century a high-reward low-risk undertaking that attracted an attentive audience of thieves.

For insight about this period, we have Thieves of Book Row by Travis McDade.  In it he details the history of book theft in New York and New England beginning with some history of the 1890s and continuing into the mid-1930s.  It turns out that libraries, torn between protection and access, both believed in the honesty of patrons and often did not understand that the street value of their material that was sometimes surging in the low-tax, high reward environment that propelled the 10% down stock market.   America was betting on its future and rare books in the 1910-1929 period a good bet too.  Later, with the onset of the depression and the end of the upward spiral in prices there would also soon be fewer jobs and more desperate men.  Into this downturn rare books also lost value but many were still valuable enough to steal and the crime both un and under-reported and judges, when the apprehended were taken to court, sympathetic to the man who wanted to read too much.

In the downturn, with money tight, libraries did not have money to increase security even as the theft problem was becoming apparent.  So, too often books were there for the taking.  Mr. McDade’s account, a very well written fact filled, intense and highly entertaining account, brings this period to life.

Libraries ultimately, learning of sin in the world, became cautious and rare book prices, after a 15-year side trip to hell [1930-1944], recovered and have since gone on to set records year after year, collectible material now often 50 to 100 times more valuable than it was at the beginning of the 20th century.  And this has left libraries with a predicament.  The material, once freely available, is now subject to high security, limits on aisle grazing, and many rules to limit damage to increasingly fragile material.   But the greater goal for libraries has been broad access and this is impaired and it’s a shame for the number of people who steal is inevitably small and the number of people affected by limited access large.

The issue of access will be resolved with online access to full texts.  This is already occurring and will increase and improve so scholars and the interested will find what they seek.  Whether this will help book collecting is another matter and one can only hope.

It turns out that thieves not only stole books, they may have also stolen some of the future for book collectors who without physical contact with the material and the wisdom and perspective of rare book librarians to bring the field to life, may never sense the power of this category of collecting.
        

One is also then left to wonder when the complete texts of collectible books will be accessible on line and then of course the inevitable ‘what’s next.’  Will libraries maintain their collections or dispose of them?  If they are to sell or thin them there will need to an audience open to buying.   With shops closing and access to rare books in libraries restricted building a new audience will be a challenge.

Here are Amazon links to both books mentioned in this article.  Both are important.

Norman's Scientist, Scholar & Scoundrel

Dade's Thieves of Book Row

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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.
  • <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>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.

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