• <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Macbeth: A Tragedy.</i> London, 1673. FIRST SEPARATE AND FIRST QUARTO EDITION. THE CHARLTON HESTON COPY. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. <i>In Our Time.</i> Paris, 1924. FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> VERNE, JULES. <i>A Journey to the Centre of the Earth.</i> New York & London, 1872. FIRST EDITION, RARE AMERICAN ISSUE, with Scribner & Welford cancel title. $5,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 5:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> PLATO. <i>Timaeus</i> [AND] <i>Critias</i> [from Ficini's 1484 Opera]. A LANDMARK OF SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. $200,000 to $300,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 4:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. $80,000 to $120,000.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> [Herberstein, Sigismund von, & al.] <i>Rerum Moscoviticarum…,</i> 4 plates, illustrations, folio, Andreas Wevhelius, Frankfurt, 1600. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Bowen (Emmanuel) & Owen (John). <i>Britannia Depicta…,</i> fourth edition, engraved title and 273 maps, 4to, Thomas Bowles, 1753. £700 to £900
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Geographical Game.- Jefferys (Thomas). <i>The Royal Geographical Pastime or the Tour of Europe,</i> FIRST EDITION, engraving of Europe, map c. 507 x 665 mm, Thomas Jefferys, 1768. £600 to £800
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Germany.- Homann (Johann Baptist). <i>Atlas Novus Terrarum Orbis Imperia... Atlas von Deutschland,</i> engraved half title, 87 maps only, folio, Erben, Nuremberg, 1753. £8,000 to £10,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Iceland [Løvenørns (Poul)]. <i>Beskrivelse over den Iislandske…,</i> 10 engraved maps and plates, vignettes, 4to, Copenhagen, F. W. Thiele, 1788. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Lewis (John Frederick). <i>Illustrations of Constantinople…,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 26 views folio, T. McLean, D.& P. Colnaghi & John F. Lewis, [1838]. £2,000 to £3,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Lilford (Lord, Thomas Littleton Powys, 4th Baron). <i>Coloured Figures of the Birds of the British Islands,</i> 7 vol., second edition, [one of 450 sets], 421 plates, large 8vo, 1891-97. £1,800 to £2,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Londres [panorama], engraving, 350 x 520mm, chez Baltazar Moncornet, Paris, c.1666-68. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Van Keulen (Joannes). <i> Niewe Pas Caarte Strekkende van Pta Cataon tot Pta Lamtaon…,</i> copper engraved map, hand coloured, 510 x 585mm, Amsterdam, [1753]. £1,200 to £1,500
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper,<br>to include Travel, Sciences, <br>Sport & Illustrated Art<br>November 20, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Goethe (Johann Wolfgang von). <i> Prologue dans le ciel, Traduction de Gerard de Nerval…,</i> 11 double sheets with calligraphic handwriting, 33 fine gouaches, Philippe Gonin, [Paris, c. 1932]. £400 to £600
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Murphy (Jill, author and illustrator) ARR. <i> Peace at Last & The Large Family: All in One Piece,</i> 10 pieces of original artwork from the two books, 1980 & 1987 (12). £1,800 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Nov. 20:</b> Rembrandt (Harmensz. van Rijn). Christ at Emmaus: the larger plate, etching and drypoint, 212 x 161mm, sheet 225 x 170mm, 1654. £1,000 to £1,500
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Fust-Schöffer-Bibel from Gutenberg-Press, 1462. Est: € 1,000,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. W. Weinmann, <i>Phytanthoza-Iconographia,</i> 1735-45. Est: € 60,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>O. Kokoschka, <i>Die träumenden Knaben,</i> 1917. Est: € 10,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>Z. Lilius, <i>Orbis breviarium,</i> 1493. <br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> <i>Gazette du Bon Ton,</i> 1912-22.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961. Est: € 100,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 100,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>E. L. Kirchner, <i>Umbra vitae,</i> 1924.<br>Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Miró, <i>Midi le trèfle blanc,</i> 1968. Est: € 2,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on November 25th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b> Clemens V., <i>Constitutiones,</i> 1471.<br>Est: € 14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>C. Gesner, <i>Tierbuch, Vogelbuch, Fischbuch,</i> 1563-81. Est: € 5,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 25:</b><br>J. Itten, <i>Utopia,</i> 1921. Est: € 2,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2013 Issue

Death Comes to the Telegram

Titanictelegram

A good news telegram – all on board the Titanic are safe. There is no danger.

The news that flashed across the wires last month sounded definitive. The oldest form of long-distance instantaneous communications had come to an end, roughly 170 years after its birth. A form of works on paper that carried the most important news of its day at the fastest speed existed no more. The telegram was dead. Telegrams carrying such terrible news as the beginning of war, the sinking of the Titanic, or the assassination of Lincoln are highly sought after works on paper by collectors. The next great war will not be so announced, reason enough not to have one.

The telegram was the offspring of Samuel F.B. Morse. An obscure, virulently nativist political crank, Morse's scientific mind was as creative as his social one was frozen. He came up with the idea of sending electronic signals through a wire, concluding this could be done over great distances. He did not figure out that voice could be converted into such impulses. That would be left for Alexander Graham Bell to discern four decades later. Morse's idea was to send a series of long and short tones that would constitute a code. He worked on his idea in the late 1830s, and by the early 40s he had strung up some wires. By the end of that decade, small companies were sending messages through the wires, using Morse's short and long tones (dots and dashes) that signified letters. It was aptly known as “Morse Code.” On one end, an operator tapped on a device that punched out the tones; at the other end of the wire, another operator would hear the tones and quickly translate them by hand to letters and words on paper.

Lest anyone think this system is exceedingly primitive, it's worth noting that the Battle of New Orleans, in which over 400 people died and another 1,700 were wounded, took place several weeks after the War of 1812 ended. The problem was that it took longer than that to relay the news of war's end to troops in the field. Had it been the war of 1852 instead, none of these casualties would have occurred, thanks to Mr. Morse's invention.

As happens in all new businesses, there are many start-ups, but most get consumed by a few large companies. There were two companies in the process of consuming their smaller competitors in America in the early 1850s, and in 1855, the two combined. It became known as Western Union. Other countries undoubtedly had their large telegraph companies, but in America it was Western Union, though others competed. Western Union became one of the most important companies in America. It was one of 13 companies that were part of the original Dow Jones Industrial Average (only Western Union and Union Pacific survive today).

Of course, technology moves on and the telegraph as a means of fast communication would be surpassed by an even faster method of communication – the telephone. However, it was a very slow death. The telephone was instantaneous, but it provided no written record, and you had to be home to receive it. Additionally, it would still be many years before the long-distance phone call was as cheap as the telegram. So through all of the 20th century, Western Union had their couriers out delivering messages to your door by hand, after transmitting them electronically to your town where they could be printed out and delivered on paper.

While once the primary means of quick communications, by the second half of the 20th century, telegrams were used mostly for important messages, business deals or major family matters. Getting a telegram was often like getting a phone call at 2:00 a.m. Yes, it might be someone calling to tell you that you won the lottery, but more likely it was some dreaded news, such as a death in the family. The arrival of a telegram evinced feelings of both hope and fear.

Western Union sensed the impending doom of their business long ago and wisely branched out into other areas. Nevertheless, they barely survived. In 2006, 155 years after it began, Western Union announced that it would carry telegrams no more. The decision was hardly a surprise. In 1929, Western Union transmitted 20 million telegrams. In 2005, the number was down to 20 thousand. It was time. A spin-off company, iTelegram, continues the service, sort of. You can go online and fill in a message to be delivered as a telegram, but outside of a few large cities, they will be dropped in the local post office to be delivered by mail, not courier. Western Union had long become involved in other areas, mainly financial services, and is best known today as a place to wire money rather than messages to someone far away.

The news that hit the wires last month came from India. Not as technologically developed as the West, telegrams continued to be more widely used in this nation, particularly between family members living in the countryside and the city. So they soldiered on until last month when the state operated telegraph company, in operation since 1850 when India was a British colony, called it quits. That was 163 years worth, a longer run than even Western Union.

While this was a notable event in the decline of the telegram, it really isn't its death. Then again, it wasn't really alive anymore either. This is part of the final stages of the end to a moribund industry that technically still survives in India as it does through iTelegram in the U.S., but is not even a shell of the business it once was. If you collect telegrams, or collect other events immortalized in a telegram, hold on to them. Printed books are being produced in smaller numbers today, but they are still being produced, and undoubtedly will for a very long time. Telegrams, however, now officially join the same category with real estate – they aren't making them anymore.  


Editorial Note:  Good news! The folks at iTelegram have informed us that they do provide national courier service in the U.S. for telegrams, good news for those who still appreciate the urgency of the medium. Here is what they tell us:

I wanted to clear up a mistake in the article. iTelegram does deliver all first-class (priority) telegrams by courier in the USA, not just to a few cities. This information is published on our web site: www.itelegram.com/telegram/send.asp?recCountry=US.

Colin Stone
Director of Operations
International Telegram



Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Dr. Seuss, pen, ink & watercolor, calendar illustration, Thomas D. Murphy Company, 1937. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Sur la Terrasse,</i> gouache & pencil, cover for <i>Vogue,</i> 1930. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Dana Gibson, <i>The Coming Game, Yale vs. Vassar,</i> pen & ink, for <i>Life</i> magazine, 1895. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>H.A. Rey, color pencil, charcoal, watercolor & gouache, for <i>Rafi et les 9 singes,</i> 1939. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ernest H. Shepard, pen & ink, for Kenneth Grahame’s <i>Bertie’s Escapade,</i> 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Schulz, <i>The Biggest Star Measured So Far,</i> ink & wash, original <i>Peanuts</i> cartoon, published 1961. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Saul Steinberg, <i>12 Biographies, A to B,</i> pen & ink with collage, final illustration in his book <i>The Labyrinth,</i> 1960. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b><br>Jo Mielziner, <i>A Streetcar Named Desire,</i> watercolor, graphite & gouache, first color study for the award-winning 1947 production. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Nevermore,</i> watercolor & ink, for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1973. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>I Should Worry,</i> watercolor, gouache & graphite, cover for <i>Judge</i> magazine, 1914. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Edward Gorey, <i>Swan Lake, Hunters/Siegfried, Van Rothbart,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, costume designs, 1975. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 10:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>Sketch for Madeline,</i> gouache & ink. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Bohr (Niels). <i>On the Constitution of Atoms and Molecules,</i> first edition, presentation copy, offprint 1913. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Shakespeare's Falstaff.- Henry V & Sir John Fastolf. Indenture agreement appointing Fastolf as Keeper of the Bastille of St Anthony at Paris, manuscript in French, 1421. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> World.- Purchas (Samuel). <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes. In Five Books...,</i> 5 vol., first edition, 7 folding engraved maps, contemporary calf, by William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, 1625-26. £20,000 to £30,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Book of Hours.- Use of Rouen, manuscript on vellum, in Latin and French, illuminated with 14 full-page miniatures by the workshop or follower of the Maitre de l'Echevinage, Rouen, 1480s. £20,000 t0 £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Giese (Raban, ?scholar and medical doctor). Album Amicorum of drawing on his travels and acquaintances in Europe 1618-21, 134 watercolour illustrations including c. 60 professional miniatures, 1618-39. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Jones (David). 14 Autograph Letters signed, 1952-68; and a small quantity of ephemera (sm. qty). £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Constable (John). Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery, signed presentation inscription from Constable, 1833. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669). The Descent from the Cross: Second Plate, etching and engraving, 1633. £6,000 to £8,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Salvin (Francis Henry) and William Brodrick. <i>Falconry in the British Isles,</i> second edition, William Brodrick's copy with 3 original watercolours by him, 1873. £8,000 to £12,000
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works<br>on Paper including Books from The Collection of The Garden Ltd<br>November 21, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> China.- Helman (Isidore Stanislas Henri). <i>Suite des seize estampes representant les conquetes de l'Empereur de la Chine,</i> 1783-88. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 21:</b> Pratt (Edward Roger, 1789-1863). Album of 28 watercolours and other works on paper from a journey to ancient sites and monuments in the Mediterranean, [c.1830 and later]. £3,000 to £5,000
  • <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Auctions <br>Fine Books & Manuscripts <i>online</i><br> November 11-17
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
    <center><b>Skinner Rare Book Auction November 11-17</b>
  • <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Peter I, Tsar]. <i>Simboly i emblemata ukazom i blagopovedenii imperatora Petra Alekseevicha [Symbola et emblemata jussu atque auspiciis Petri Alexeidis].</i> Amsterdam, 1705. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Charlemagne, Adolf. Benefice d'Adieu de Madame Naptal. [St Petersburg: 16th February 1873]. £30,000 to £40,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> [Military. Album.] [An album of drawings of weapons and their accessories, drawn from nature by the Second Cadets Corps.] St Petersburg, 1800. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin.</i> St Petersburg: Dep. of Public Education, 1825-1832. £100,000 to £150,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Nov. 27:</b> Sumarokov, Pavel. <i>Dosugi krymskogo sud’i ili vtoroe puteshestvie v Tavridu. [The Leisure of a Crimean Judge or a Second Tour to Tauris].</i> St Petersburg: Imperial Press, 1803-5. £50,000 to £80,000

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