Swann Galleries closes out its 2019 fall season with an exceptional sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Tuesday, December 17. Atlases lead the sale, with additional highlights in cartography and spectacular images from Currier & Ives.
The sale is led by Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus ab Inicio Mundi, Nuremberg, 1493, at $40,000 to $60,000—the Nuremberg Chronicle traces the world history from Biblical Creation to the time of publication. Further atlases include Claudius Ptolemaeus’s Geographicae Enarrationis Libri Octo., Lyons, 1535 ($20,000-25,000); the second volume of Joan and Willem Blaeu’s Novus Atlas—Toonneel des Aerdrycx, oft Nieuwe Atlas, Tweede Deels, Tweede Stuck, Amsterdam, 1658—comprising France, Spain, Asia, Africa and America; and Thomas Jefferys’s The American Atlas: Or, a Geographical Description of the Whole Continent of America, London, 1776-77 ($10,000-15,000 each). Also of note is an 1840 Hawaiian-language school geography map from the Lahainaluna Seminary, making its auction debut at …more
...is (or was) that part of the upper Connecticut River valley bordering Vermont and New Hampshire, where there were booksellers in or near every town or village of any size. For readers, collectors, and members of the trade, this compact area was northern New England's version of Manhattan’s Book Row and a bibliophile’s paradise. Nowadays “Booksellers Gulch” is a metaphor for where the books are. We hope the rumors of the imminent demise of bookshops have been greatly exaggerated and that bookhunters on the road or simply exploring areas near where they live, will find this guide helpful. This feature of Book Source Magazine has been neglected in recent years but will be expanded greatly in the weeks and months to come.
As this feature grows and as time goes on, it will be difficult for us to ensure that the information remains up to date - bookshops move or owners retire. This is where you all come in. If anyone is aware of any change that affects the accuracy of a bookshop's listing, please get in touch with us and let us know. This will help everyone.
Swann Galleries’ Thursday, October 24 sale of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books saw a full auction room and active bidding on the internet and phones with particular interest in works by scientists, as well as incunabula, bibles and manuscript publications.
Isaac Newton’s Opticks, 1704, brought $40,000, followed by a 100% sell-through rate for material relating to the acclaimed scientist. Additional highlights included Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica, the third authorized edition and the last edition to appear in the Newton’s lifetime, sold for $9,375, as well as the unauthorized third edition which earned $6,500.
Additional science material included a first edition of Galileo’s 1649 dialogue on the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems, establishing the validity of heliocentricity, which brought $16,900; and a second edition Georg Agricola’s De re metallica, 1561, on the first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy, garnered $10,000.
Incunabula performed well with “one of the best and most comprehensive of the western medieval lapidaries,” Albert Magnus’s De mineralibus, 1491, realizing $17,500, and a 1480-81 illuminated manuscript by Nicolaus Panormitanus de Tudeschis selling for $11,250.
Bibles and religious texts included a Bible in Latin printed in Nuremberg in 1477 that sold for $9,375 and The Holy Byble, conteining the Olde Testament and the Newe, London, 1585, that earned $6,250. Also of note was Niccolò Circignani’s 1585 publication with 31 engraved plates of Christian martyrdom scenes by Giovanni Battista Cavalieri, after frescoes in the church of S. Stefano Rotondo in Rome, which brought …more
Collusion. ME [a.F., ad L.] 1. Secret agreement or understanding for purpose of trickery or fraud; underhand scheming or working with another; deceit, fraud, trickery… [Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1955].
So it wasn't Sheldon Cooper after all. Twelve Russians (not Marcel Lazăr Lehel) have been charged with meddling in the campaign leading up to the 2016 election by hacking into servers and publishing e-mails that, among other things, showed close cooperation between DNC officials and many of the print and television news reporters that the public used to rely on for accurate and unbiased news. Nowadays, not so much.
I suppose this could be considered serious outside interference or collusion. Does the public really need to know or does the public have the right to know about Donna Brazile's (then CNN & ABC contributor and vice chair of the DNC) e-mails of March 5, 2016 in which she supplied questions to the campaign in advance of the CNN primary debate or her e-mail of March 12, 2016 in which she says, in part, “from time to time I get the questions in advance...” and then goes on to pass along the text of a question that will be asked at the CNN town hall with Clinton and Bernie Sanders? Thanks to Wikileaks, now we know. …more
I would be remiss if I didn't write and thank you again for your generosity and kindness that came to me with th "C-Town Card". When Rich Mori dropped if off that Sunday night I was overwhelmed. I have been blessed to be part of this extraordinary community of booksellers.
The hardest part of all this has been not being able to join in at the gatherings of our clan. I have made it my personal goal to be at many of next year's fairs. Special thanks to you Ron and John Huckans for your kind words at the booksellers' dinner – it has been a rough year in our world of bookselling – too many losses – too much sadness – yet what a remarkable group of special people. Take care of each other – I look forward to seeing you sooner (rather) than later!
The Thursday, September 26 sale of Printed & Manuscript Americana at Swann Galleries was an overall success with an 88% sell-through rate, bringing in over $1,000,000.
Material relating to slavery & abolition led the sale. The top lot was an important archive of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works in West Virginia: “Because of the massive extent of the institution of slavery, original manuscripts relating to those who were enslaved are not scarce. However, we rarely see a large archive which tells the story of one location and one group of people over time. Most of what does survive is agricultural,” said Rick Stattler, the house’s Book Department Director & Americana Specialist. “The Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works archive is unusual because it documents a large industrial operation which relied on slave labor. Many dozens of individuals can be traced over the decades through correspondence, lists, and receipts. The plant's numerous connections to Booker T. Washington, who lived near the salt works after abolition, give it even greater historical significance; his stepfather appears several times in the records.” The archive brought $173,000, the top price for an archive in Swann’s history. The lot was immediately followed by the Shugart family papers. Notable for its log listing passengers on the Underground Railroad, it fetched …more
Some of the highlights from Catalogue 85 (Autograph Musical Manuscripts & Letters of Composers, First & Early Editions of Printed Music, Rare Books on Music Iconography) include: Beethoven. First edition of the full score of the 9th Symphony, with a presentation inscription from Charles Munch to Alfred Cortot (item 4); Brahms. First edition of the full score of the 2nd Symphony (item 14); Dufay, Grenon, & Binchois. Important early 15th century secular polyphonic manuscript (item 40); Grieg. Autograph cadenza of an unrecorded work (item 48); Hummel. Autograph of possibly the composer’s last work (item 55); Liszt. Rare private printing of Liszt’s Prefaces (item 65); Millico & Burney. Late 18th century manuscript Ariettes by Millico bound with an early manuscript of Burney’s setting of God Save the King (item 78); Moscheles. Autograph manuscript of an unrecorded work for solo piano (item 79); Petri. Archive of correspondence between Egon Petri and …more
Swann Galleries’ summer sale of Vintage Posters on Wednesday, August 7 was a lively event with active bidding across all platforms. “Many of the auction's niche collecting categories saw heated competition for trophy pieces, including sections on propaganda, sports and auto racing, as well as beach and summer resort posters,” noted Nicholas D. Lowry, Vintage Posters Director and house President. The sale saw six record prices and brought a number of posters to market for the first time.
The house’s most extensive selection of automobile posters to date saw competitive bidding from car aficionados. Highlights included a 1970 ad for Porsche prominently featuring actor Steve McQueen, which earned a record $7,000 over a high estimate of $1,200; and Ludwig Hohlwein’s 1914 Mercedes poster in German, which brought $10,000.
Sergio Trujillo Magnenat’s advertisements for the first Bolivarian Games in 1938 proved to be successful in his market debut, with all of the four works on offer finding buyers. His designs promoting track-and-field events—javelin, and discus—earned $4,160 apiece, while the designs for tennis and polo were won for $4,000 and $2,470, respectively.
War and political propaganda included William Sanger’s 1936 campaign poster for Roosevelt and Lehman, a first at auction for the image and a record for the artist at $7,250. James Montgomery Flagg was present with his iconic 1917 image featuring Uncle Sam, I Want You for U.S. Army, and his circa 1918 call to join the marines featuring a soldier riding a leopard ($4,940 and $5,500, respectively). Howard Chandler Christy’s Aviation / Fly with the U.S. Marines, 1920, rounded out the selection at $6,750.
The sale was led by Alphonse Mucha’s The Seasons, four decorative panels on silk, 1900, at $14,300. Also by Mucha was Lance Parfum Rodo, 1896, an early work by …more
(originally published in the Sept/Oct 2003 issue of Book Source Magazine)
The Victorian period, especially in England, was a hotbed for architectural follies. In an article on Victorian follies in the July 2003 issue of The Antiquer, Adele Kenny notes several definitions, including the Oxford English Dictionary’s kindly and understated — “a popular name for any costly structure considered to have shown folly in the builder.” Chambers goes a bit further with “a great useless structure, or one left unfinished, having begun without a reckoning of the cost” and the Oxford Companion to Gardens, in case we still don’t get it, says architectural follies are “characterized by a certain excess in terms of eccentricity, cost or conspicuous inutility.” I think the two words “conspicuous inutility” sum it up best, but say what you will a lot of us love them all the same.
Architectural follies began to appear in England during the 18th century but it wasn’t until the early industrial period of the 19th century that wealthy new owners of landed estates were able to indulge their fantasies on a grand scale. The construction of great stone towers of various shapes and sizes, faux Greek Parthenons, private churches or chapels, obelisks and other monuments to impracticality (often left unfinished so as to suggest ruins from a distant past) in many ways represented a subconscious rebellion against the utilitarianism of the factory age — and were often built by the industrialists themselves.
“There was strong bidding across the board and it’s hard not to be pleased with the general outcome of the sale,” said Maps & Atlases Specialist, Caleb Kiffer of Swann Galleries June 6 sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural Science & Color Plate Books which saw an 84% sell-through rate. Highlights included rare cartographic publications by Lewis Evans and Petrus Plancius, as well as color plate books by John Fisk Allen and Willian Sharp.
The star of the auction was the May 2, 1755 draft of A General Map of the Middle British Colonies in America by Lewis Evans. The early proof of the historic map that which documented the Colonies into Ohio for the first time sold for $125,000. “Having the opportunity to bring the Lewis Evans 1755 pre-production proof copy to auction has been a highlight of my many years in this business. It jump-started my heart the moment the consignor presented it to me and continued beating at a fast pace up until the moment it hammered. I'm calling the map an artifact, which it truly is, and having it double the estimate demonstrates its historical significance. I'm very pleased with the outcome and honored to have brought it out into the public realm here at Swann Galleries,” Kiffer said of the offering.
A 1792 Plan of the Town of Baltimore and its Environs by Antoinne Pierre Folie ($21,250) and John Montresor’s large 1775 map of the Hudson River Valley ($8,125) concluded a overall spectacular offering of American cartography.
Decorative cartography of note included Petrus Plancius’ 1592-94 map of Southern Africa, which featured fanciful beasts, sea monsters and a scene of giant lobsters devouring a ship ($87,500). Two works by Pieter Verbiest found success: a double-hemispheric world map from 1636 reached $25,000, as well as a 1639 representation of Spain and Portugal sold for $8,450.
John Fisk Allen and William Sharp’s Victoria Regia, 1854, which consisted of six chromolithographed plates of the life phases of the Great Water Lily of America, lead the selection of natural history and color plate books at …more
On June 9, Freeman’s held its ever popular, semi-annual American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction, a strong sale that boasted an impressive array of works by many well-known artists. The auction was well attended, with a full house (despite very tempting beach weather) and many national and international phone bidders, including prominent private collectors and several institutions. The sale totaled $2.47 million (BP inclusive) with 81% of the lots sold.
Most notably, a stunning, early portrait by artist Cecilia Beaux (1855-1942) depicting her life-long friend dressed as the mythological water nymph, Undine (Lot 19) soared above its initial estimate of $60,000-80,000, eventually selling to a New England institution for a record-breaking $454,000. After spirited bidding between numerous phone bidders, private collectors and institutions around the country, Ethel Page as Undine established a new world auction record for the artist. This impressive result reflects the current strong market interest in female artists, and for Beaux herself, who has been hitherto underappreciated. The successful sale of this portrait also reaffirms Freeman’s as the preeminent auction house for handling works made in Philadelphia. The painting was originally executed on Chestnut Street in 1885, and it seems only natural that …more
Michael Rechtenwald is an academic who after setting sail on an academic career as professor of liberal studies at a well-known eastern university, gradually learned he had signed up to crew on what some people might call a ship of fools. Springtime for Snowflakes: Social Justice and Its Postmodern Parentage [London & Nashville: New English Review Press, 2018] is an unusual blend of a memoir of his formative years growing up in a working class home in Pittsburgh; the undergraduate gap-period interlude at the Naropa Institute where he served as an apprentice and teaching assistant to Allen Ginsburg who ran Naropa and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in a store-front location on Pearl St. in Boulder, Colorado during the 1970s; his post-graduate studies at Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon universities; unusual experiences as a professor at NYU; and an appendix comprised of a mix of initially anonymous social media postings that got him into hot water with many of his colleagues.
Rechtenwald's father was an independent contractor who ran his remodeling business from the family home on Waldorf Street on Pittsburgh's north side. When it came time for high school his father tried to enroll Michael in the exclusive Shadyside Academy, considered the city's best prep school at the time, and the headmaster's discouraging response “... although I believe your son would do well here academically, I'm afraid that he wouldn't fit in... socially...” probably influenced his later decision to pursue Marxist critical theory. At any rate he …more
Swann Galleries’ Printed & Manuscript Americana sale on Thursday, April 16 was the house’s third straight sale in the category to finish over $1,000,000, achieving several significant records. Institutions made up the bulk of the buyers. Specialist Rick Stattler commented: “The market remains vigorous for scarce and important material, with five-figure highlights in all of our main subject areas: early American imprints, the American Revolution, Civil War, Mormons, the West, and Latin Americana.”
Mexican imprints proved to be popular with six earning top prices in the sale. Highlights included a first edition 1674 pamphlet by famed Mexican poetess Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, consisting of Christmas carols to be sung in honor of the thirteenth-century St. Pedro Nolasco. It set a record for the author at $45,000. Juan Navarro’s 1604 Liber in quo quatuor passions Christi Domini continentur, the first music by a New World composer printed in the Americas, earned $32,500, and a first edition of Alonso de Molina’s 1565 full-length confessional manual with instructions on the administration of the sacraments, written in Nahuatl and Spanish, brought $21,250. Mexican manuscripts featured an extensive illustrated file detailing a land dispute between a ranch owner and his Nahua neighbors, with 350 manuscript pages ($30,000).
“The successful sale of the Holzer Lincolniana collection last fall brought in a strong group of related material for this auction, including our top lot, a beautiful portrait of Lincoln by Matthew Henry Wilson,” said Stattler–the artist’s copy of the last portrait rendered from life set a record for Wilson at $55,000. Other Lincoln and Civil War material of note included a newspaper extra from Detroit announcing Lincoln’s assassination, which topped its high estimate at $15,000, a likely record for any newspaper with that news, and Benson Lossing’s Pictorial History of the Civil War of the United States of America, 1866-68, ($15,000).
Texas material was led by the manuscript diary of William Farrar Smith documenting the 1849 Whiting-Smith Expedition to form a trail from San Antonio to El Paso ($47,500) and a first edition of Batholomé Garcia’s Manual para Administrar los Santos Sacramentos, 1760, the only early work published in the Pakawan language at …more
Garry R. Austin, 71 of Wilmington, VT died peacefully after a long battle with MDS and AML, at the Centers for Living and rehabilitation in Bennington, VT on April 14, 2019. He was the son of Arlene H. Austin of Syracuse, NY. In 1982 he was married to the former Karen Flanders, also of Syracuse, on a lawn overlooking the ocean in Wells, ME. Garry's early education was in the Catholic school system in Syracuse, NY. After sampling several colleges, he finished his Bachelor's at SUNY Oswego in 1975.
Garry's athletic ability in lacrosse led him to play in school and with the NALA. His interest in General Custer led him to the University of Montana to pursue graduate work in American History, but the urge to travel soon set in. After a number of jobs including a short professional Box Lacrosse career in Canada, Garry and Karen settled in Wells in 1980, and opened Snug Harbor Books, a used and rare bookshop. They went on to open a second shop, Austin's Antiquarian Books in 1985, in an 1840s house with an attached barn. By 1987, the couple was running three shops, the last being a seasonal store in York Beach.
They sold their business in Maine and went to Watertown, NY for two years to be closer to family, but soon decided the business required more traffic than the upstate New York town could provide. They returned to Maine until 1994 when they discovered the wonderful resort town of Wilmington, VT. Austin's Antiquarian Books operated there until Garry's health began to fail in 2018. Garry held several offices in the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, and was a member of the Planning Commission in Wilmington. Garry and Karen ran book fairs as well, including but not limited to, the Vermont Summer Fair for the VABA and the Albany Book and Paper Fair. He was also an avid fly fisherman and lover of the outdoors.
After meeting and becoming friends with Theodore Roosevelt expert Peter Scanlon, Garry fell in love with Roosevelt, and went on, after his specialist friend and mentor died, to take up the mantle of Theodore Roosevelt Specialist. He is a former member of the Theodore Roosevelt Association. The website TheodoreRooseveltBooks.com will continue to be run by Garry's wife Karen. So wonderful is the community of booksellers that …more
Many of you know about or have seen the short film entitled The Last Bookshop which can be viewed on YouTube. (click on the still photo) A little more than 20 minutes long, it features two actors – an elderly bookseller and a young boy whose family's electronic media system has broken down and who discovers a bookshop from the past while aimlessly wandering the streets of a post modern Amazonian utopia in which shops have disappeared from the streets of towns and villages of a society that has finally gotten what it wished for. The filming was done at various bookshop locations, including Halls Bookshop in Royal Tunbridge Wells (for the exterior shots) and at Baggins Books in Rochester (Kent). Most of the interior scenes, showing endless ranges of shelving stretching from floor to ceiling, were made at Baggins, one of the largest bookshops in England and one of two bookshops (the other being Piccadilly Rare Books in Ticehurst) owned by Paul Minet, who contributed his column, Letter from England, to this magazine for many years. When Paul died in 2012 Baggins was given to the members of staff – which sounds very much like Paul and Sheila.
Speaking of Paul Minet, some of you may remember his column in Book Source Magazine but never had a chance to visit Baggins. It was easy to get lost in the place, as you might guess by watching the film. The actor playing the bookseller in no way resembled Paul, who was a towering figure and eminently capable of any physical task involving having to deal with massive quantities of books (or anything else, I would have guessed). Paul was also a journalist, writing for and editing The New Daily, a Liberal newspaper published in the 1960s, founder and editor of Antiquarian Book Monthly Review (ABMR), editor of both The British Diarist and Royalty Digest, and a long-time columnist for Book Source Magazine. His philanthropic activities mainly involved his family's support and efforts on behalf of Chetham's Library in Manchester, founded in 1653 and the oldest public library in the …more
Printed & Manuscript African Americana at Swann Galleries on Thursday, March 28 saw a sell-through rate of 90%, a record for the category. Enthusiastic bidding was seen across all sections of the sale, resulting in seven records, with significant interest from institutions.
A 1958 edition of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book by Victor H. Green broke a record for any edition of the publication at $27,500. The travel guide for African-American families was indispensable during a time when long-distance travel would be a cause for apprehension about finding lodging, gasoline, or even a restroom. Also of note was a rare survival of the Jim Crow era, a circa late 1950s letterpress sign by the Tennessee Public Service Commission proclaiming Notice: This Part of the Car for Colored People, which sold for $10,400, and a first edition of Martin Luther King’s Why We Can’t Wait, 1964, signed by the civil rights leader, which brought $8,750.
The sale was led by volume one, number one of The Mirror of Liberty, July 1838, the first black periodical published in the United States, edited by David Ruggles–one of New York’s leading abolitionists. The radical abolitionist publication fetched $37,500. Records were set for An Oration on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Delivered in the African Church, 1808, by Peter Williams, at $15,000, and Life of Isaac Mason as a Slave, 1893, by Isaac Mason, at $1,500.
Additional material relating to slavery and abolition included a substantial archive of correspondence to John Augustine Washington III relating to Mount Vernon, other family estates, the heirs of America’s Founding Father, often discussing the enslaved people on whom their fortune was built. The archive brought $32,000. A signed document from Newport, R.I. recording the illegal act of an American captain agreeing to bring slaves from Africa to Havana in 1806, garnered $11,250; and a circa-1850 letterpress broadside proclaiming Union with Freemen–No Union with Slaveholders. Anti-Slavery Meetings!, issued by the Western Anti-Slavery Society, was won for …more
Autographs on March 21, 2019 at Swann Galleries saw significant interest in Americana, scientists and popular figures. Of the sale Marco Tomaschett, the house’s autographs Specialist, noted – “Highest prices were mostly for historical autographs, demonstrating that the broad interest in history continues.”
A 1776 autograph letter signed by Joseph Brant, Thayeadanegea–the leader of the Mohawk people and military, and British Loyalist–writing with news after he had been in England meeting with King George III, recounting events related to the American rebels, brought $35,000, a record for a letter by Brant.
Founding Fathers were also popular, with a 1793 ALS by Alexander Hamilton, as Secretary of the Treasury, to the President and Directors of the Bank of the U.S. expressing that they will receive an appropriation for giving advances to the Mint ($12,500); George Washington’s signed ticket for the Mountain Road Lottery from 1768 fetched $8,450; two autograph documents signed from 1764 and 1765 concerning payment for services rendered in various lawsuits by John Adams brought $3,900; and a 1792 printed document signed by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, sold for $5,000.
An 1875 photograph signed and dated by Ulysses S. Grant led an assortment of signatures from U.S. Presidents, earning $10,000. A partly-printed document signed by Abraham Lincoln, appointing John T. Hogeboom as Appraiser of Merchandise in April of 1864, brought $5,500, and a group of five typed letters, signed by Theodore Roosevelt from 1902-05 to his sister Corrine Roosevelt Robinson, was won for $3,380.
Of British interest was a group of six ALS from 1989-92 by Diana, Princess of Wales, to her friend Elizabeth Tilberis, the editor of British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as an 1884 ALS by Queen Victoria to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, expressing her sorrows over the death of her son Leopold ($10,400 and $5,750, respectively).
Scientists and inventors were represented with a 1944 ink-and-wash portrait by Charlotte Berend-Corinth of Albert Einstein, signed by the physicist, at $9,100; two offprints signed by Linus Pauling, which featured his articles The Nature of the Chemical Bond, 1931, and Ascorbic Acid and Cancer, 1979, brought $4,500, and Nikola Tesla’s 1935 signed monogrammed correspondence card sold for …more
The Hobart Book Village located in the northern Catskills, if not the only, is by far the most prominent book village in the United States. Don Dales, a visionary local property owner from Hobart, a once a sleepy village with mostly empty stores, teamed up with William Adams (a retired physician) and his wife Diana (a retired attorney) to reinvent the town along bookish lines, and then set about trying to recruit other booksellers to join them in the project. Both Dales and the Adams would certainly be the first to admit that their inspiration was based on the pioneering efforts of Richard Booth who turned Hay-on-Wye, a small town in Wales, into the world famous destination it is today. Other rural villages have tried to emulate that model, but except for Wigtown in Scotland, and Hobart, few have had lasting success. About a year or so ago, after being the subject of an article in the Guardian, Hobart's story was picked by the NBC morning television program Today, where it can still be viewed.
The Adams, who now trade under the name Wm.H. Adams, Antiquarian Books, previously worked in Manhattan and traveled to Hobart during vacations, weekends and at every opportunity. During that period they bought a property and decided to make Hobart their second home and base of their antiquarian book business.
CGTN (China Global Television Network) is one of several international television services we receive off the air (no cable or satellite required) from WCNY, our nearby PBS station. Very recently CGTN aired a special report on the Hobart Book Village and conducted interviews with the Adams, Dales, other local booksellers, and the owner of the Bull & Garland Pub. If you didn't see the story when originally broadcast, you can watch it by clicking here or on the above image of the creek that meanders through the village. …more
(Review of "Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice")
According to the experience of most booksellers I know, Amazon and the internet have nearly trashed the antiquarian book trade – and in order to survive many independent booksellers have become data-entry catalogers for the online giants. I think it was at least twelve years ago when I first heard someone's opinion that antiquarian book-selling had become a rat race to the bottom.
And then there's the crazy pricing. Many of us have seen identical copies of the same title offered on-line for anywhere from 99¢ to $100,000, so when recently published books, especially good ones, become remaindered for whatever reason there are often incredible bargains to be had.
Once in a fit of temporary madness I bought a case or two of Geoffrey Wawro's Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East (New York, Penguin, 2010) on the internet (Biblio). Written by a professor of military history at the University of North Texas and published at $37.95, the three or four dollars a copy I paid was actually cheaper than the paperback version, and missionary-like I offered to sell them at cost to anyone interested in the the Middle East. I had already read the book and naïvely thought others would jump at the chance – I thought wrong and except for the few copies I gave away, I still have most of the shipment.
In 2014 another controversial book was published that explored corruption and obstruction of justice within the Department of Justice. The title, appropriately enough, is Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice (Dallas, Brown Publishing Group, 2014), by Sidney Powell. According to her bio “Sidney Powell served in the Department of Justice for ten years” and for twenty years has been a federal appeals attorney. Also, “She was the youngest Assistant United States Attorney in the country and the youngest elected fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, for which she also served as President”.
Much of the book explores in excruciating detail the Federal prosecutions that grew out of the Enron collapse in the early years of the new century (and) the 2008 prosecution, conviction, and ultimate acquittal and exoneration of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. (The Stevens case came at a politically convenient time that changed the balance of power in the Senate). In all high profile prosecutions, the cost of providing an adequate defense places an immense economic burden on the accused, and in a Gogolesque scenario, when threatened with financial ruin many defendants have struck immunity deals and have become witnesses for the prosecution, telling the court what they've been instructed to say, even if they absolutely know it to be untrue or misleading. …more
The Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair which began in 1976 and is one of if not the oldest book fair in the Midwest will be taking a year off in 2019. The Michigan Student Union which has been home to the fair for over 40 years is closed until the end of this year due to a major renovation project. While the character of the Union will hopefully be unchanged there were some much needed mechanical upgrades that will be addressed.
Since its inception the Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair has attracted dealers from across the country and has drawn book collectors from throughout the Midwest. The first fair in 1976 had only twelve dealers but has now grown to nearly 40 dealers and has a waiting list.
The date for the revived Ann Arbor Antiquarian Book Fair is Sunday, May 17th, 2020. For further information contact Jay Platt at the West Side Book Shop 734-995-1891 or email@example.com.
Notes on House Museums from Danna D'Esopo Jackson
House museums seem to be in retreat, as they are overtaken and absorbed into larger, glitzier operations. A recent casualty of this trend is the Thornton W. Burgess Museum in Sandwich, Mass., which has been merged into a nature conservancy group and a fund-raising "jam kitchen". Lost in these activities is Burgess's anthropomorphized animal stories that were anthologized and syndicated on "childrens pages", i.e., the comics pages, in newspapers.
Among the most successful childrens authors and illustrators is Tasha Tudor, who molded a public persona around the 19th century agrarian culture described in her books. She adopted the life style she wrote about, wearing period clothes and doing farm chores, and her home, Corgi Cottage, in Marlboro, Vt. is a house museum, surrounded by her lush gardens.
On the upper end of the economic scale, is Edith Wharton's …more
Swann Galleries closed out their fall season with a marathon sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Thursday, December 13. The auction saw a sell-through rate of 89%, five records, and steady interest across various categories.
The runaway top lot of the sale was Across the Continent, 1868, a Currier & Ives print depicting the changing landscape of the mid nineteenth-century American frontier upon the completion of the Transcontinental Railroads. Significant for its subject matter and memorable provenance, the work came across the block, by descent, from the noteworthy collection of Thomas Winthrop Streeter who was given the lithograph on his 80th birthday by his children. Across the Continent reached $62,500 – a record for the print.
Maps and atlases represented a generous portion of the sale with several lots taking top spots and setting records. Maps included Samuel de Champlain’s scarce 1664 record of his later discoveries in Canada with $22,500, and John Overton’s New and Most Exact Map of America from 1671 with $11,875. Additional cartographic material featured a chart of the middle Atlantic Coast including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres ($13,750); Joan Vingboons’ Caarte van Westindien, circa 1700, a large engraved chart of Florida, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean ($10,625); and a 1676 New and Accurate Map of the World by John Speed …more
Like many dealers in the secondhand book trade, Shaun Bythell never set out to be a bookman and was a late arrival on the book scene. He has, however, made up for lost time with his charming autobiography, The Diary of a Bookseller, chronicling his first year in The Bookshop in Wigtown, a remote book village in southwestern Scotland.
Don't look for a bibliographical discussion of edition points or a comparison of dust jackets here, for his emphasis is less on his books and more on his staff and the vivid assemblage of personalities who visit him and his cat, Captain, in the shop. Among Bythell's sidelines are his video service and the Random Book Club, in which members pay an annual fee for a monthly book that he selects. He filmed one of the dispersals to the Random members and most, as they opened their paper bags and pulled out their books, were …more