Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2017 Issue

Edward Eberstadt & Sons: a story by Michael Vinson

38844321-7878-47a3-b8fe-7daec8a5c8b0

Edward Eberstadt. 1883-1958

Edward Eberstadt & Sons was in the 20th century, to quote William Reese who wrote the forward to Mr. Vinson’s interesting book, Edward Eberstadt & Sons, Rare Booksellers of Western Americana, “the largest and most influential dealer in important books and manuscripts relating to the American West.”  The firm, which was organized in 1908 would continue through two generations of Eberstadts ending in final disposal in 1975.

 

Many of the firm’s important catalogues were reprinted as a set in 1965 and today these records are included in search results in the Rare Book Hub Transaction Database.  Not many dealer catalogues have made this cut.*

 

Michael Vinson, the western Americana specialist, has written a book about the Eberstadts and in particular Edward Eberstadt.  He was a dealer and market-maker in a category of Americana that became a specialist area during the years he was a dealer in New York.  He handled very good books with the aplomb of a storyteller who knew both how to regale and sell.  He was a master and Mr. Vinson has brought him back to life based primarily on his correspondence that was given by his family to the Beinecke Library at Yale after his death.  This is a book well worth the read.

 

Mr. Eberstadt always wanted to be an honest man but when that failed he became a bookseller.  He wasn’t a crook and no, he wasn’t dishonest.  Not at all.  Rather he mastered the arts of finding the best material and charging the highest prices; something that would be harder to do today when copies and prices can be evaluated on the Internet.  So he checked other dealers’ catalogues and bought aggressively.  As I recall we have in our records the simultaneous catalogue runs of Midland Notes, Goodspeed’s and Eberstadt.  And when I looked at Goodspeed’s and Midland a few years ago you could see their copies moving into the Eberstadt stock.  And now it's clear where they often went:  into the best collections at the highest prices. 

 

As to how the Eberstadt descriptions and their determinations of importance have held up we now know for even under the intense scrutiny possible using the Internet, their references still appear.  But all skill sets have their day and the Eberstadts’ are most powerful when seen through the lens of a rear view mirror, the very mirror Mr. Vinson’s has provided.  Here’s how.    

 

Great dealers often have exceptional memories and Edward’s was among the best.  They are also sometimes graceful correspondents.  He was both.  The principal collectors and institutions in the category collected books and papers as well as the conversations, bon mots and ideas of the acknowledged master of the trade.  In some sense, if you were a great collector in his category in the day, you wanted to buy from him.  He was that good and it confirmed your connection with him.

 

His customer list would, in time, include many of the great collectors.  Huntington, Wagner, Streeter, Coe, the Beineckes, Graff, and DeGolyer, all of them serious players, all his customers as were many, perhaps most of the important collecting libraries of the era. 

 

The Eberstadt correspondence with institutions also suggests acceptance by scholars of his scholarship.  That is rare, possibly rarer than any of the books he sold them.

 

He and his sons, Charles and Lindley, today are remembered particularly for having produced extraordinary catalogues that became, even in their own time, essential documents for collectors, dealers, and institutions.  Not many dealers’ catalogues reach memorable status as theirs did.  Interestingly, Argosy, in New York, still has three complete sets of the 1965 collected reprint.  Serious collectors of the American west will, as five generations of readers already have, find them to be a powerful learning tool.

 

How and where to find this book?  On Amazon or Oak Knoll.

 

If you would like to contact the author here is his phone number and email address:

 

Michael Vinson Americana

P. O. Box 608

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505

 

307.654.1185

 

m_vinson@silverstar.com

 

Or, meet Michael at the ABAA Fair in Oakland, California February 10 – 12.  He’s at booth 813 and will have a dozen or so copies with him.  Obtaining a copy at the show guarantees your show experience will be a success.

* RBH members, using the advanced search, can select Eberstadt in the Source section to see 21,456 original listings 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b> Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Lyscosthenes, Conrad. <i>Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon,</i> Basilea: Henricus Petrus, c. 1557, first edition, folio. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Collection of Ethiopic Religious Texts, in Ge'ez , illuminated manuscripts on vellum, c. 1700-20th c. (5 pcs.) $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Augustinus, Aurelius Sanctus.<br><i>De Civitate Dei,</i> Venice: Bonetus Locatellus per Octavianus Scotus, 9 Febbraio, 1486, 4to. $5,000 to $7,000.
    <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Choiseul-Gouffier, Marie Gabriel Comte de. <i>Voyage Pittoresque de la Grece,</i> Paris, J.J. Blaise, 1782-1809-1822, first edition. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Rufinus, Tyrannius (c. 345-411). <i>Expositio in symbolum apostolorum,</i> [Cologne, Ulrich Zel, c. 1472], first edition. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Magnus, Albertus. <i>Summa de eucharistiae sacramento,</i> Ulm: Johann Zainer, 1474. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Strabo. <i>Rerum geographicarum libri septemdecim. A Guilielmo Xylandro Augstano magna cura recogniti…,</i> Basel, Henricpetri, (August 1571). $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Riou, Stephen (1720-1780). <i>The Grecian Orders of Architecture. Delineated and Explained from the Antiquities of Athens,</i> London, 1768. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Mair, Paul Hektor. <i>Geschlechter Buch...der...Statt Augspurg,</i> Frankfurt am Maim, Sigmund Feyerabend, 1580. $1,800 to $2,500.
    <b><center>Neal Auction Company<br>Spring Estates 2021<br>April 16-18</b>
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Polybius (c. 200-118 B.C.). <i>Historiarum libri priores quinque,</i> Basel: Johann Herwagen, 1549. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> Bellori, Giovanni Pietro. <i>Columna Antoniniana Marci Aurelii Antonini Augusti rebus gestis insignis Germanis simul...,</i> Rome, [1672]. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Neal Auction Co., Apr. 16:</b> <i>Ecclesiasticae Historiae, Eusebii Pamphili...Eiusdem de vita Constantini...Socratis...,</i> Paris, Robert Estienne, 1544. $800 to $1,200.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions