One of the most fascinating and historically important lots in Freeman’s October 17 Silver & Russian Works of Art auction is “The Lintern Archive.” The collection includes a photographic album owned by the Romanov children’s French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, and contains 66 images, many of which have never been published and are new to scholars. The photographs were taken between 1912-1918, showing the Imperial Family’s life before the revolution until their imprisonment in Tobolsk. The album was presented for safekeeping to William Lintern, an Englishman living in Ekaterinburg in 1918. “The Lintern Archive” also includes a letter written by Lintern to his family expressing that the murder of the Imperial Family was widely known by the people of Ekaterinburg. The critical significance of this letter lies in when it was mailed—a full six months before the investigator Nikolai Sokolov arrived in Siberia to begin his inquest into the fate of the family.
On Sunday, April 9, 2017, the hit BBC series "Antiques Roadshow" aired the results of an open day held on the grounds of Pembroke Castle in Wales. The highlight was an important Russian Imperial photograph album and related family documents from the descendants of William Lintern, a British subject resident in Ekaterinburg, Siberia, during the height of the Russian Revolution and the early days of the Russian Civil War. Lintern worked for the British Engineering Co. in Russia when he found himself brought into contact with the entourage of the imprisoned Russian Imperial Family ůmore
On Thursday, October 19th, PBA Galleries will host Part II of The Richard Beagle Collection of Angling & Sporting Books with Americana, Travel & Exploration, and Cartography. On offer, will be over 400 lots of rare and significant books, manuscripts, maps, and related material, including items from the premier angling and sporting library formed by Richard Beagle. Key to the collection are fine limited editions with mounted specimens of tied flies; first editions of important accounts of angling in Britain and America; presentation copies of ůmore
It has been said that no single person is more responsible for Christmas as we know it than Charles Dickens (1812–1870). In 1843 he published A Christmas Carol and the story and cast of characters—from Ebenezer Scrooge to Tiny Tim—immediately became part of holiday lore. Even today, almost 175 years after the debut of the book, it is unusual for a year to go by without a new stage or screen adaptation. Beginning November 3, the Morgan Library & Museum explores the genesis, composition, publication, and contemporary reception of this beloved classic in a new exhibition entitled Charles Dickens and the Spirit of Christmas. On view through January 14, 2018, the show demonstrates ůmore
Same goes for any war. When Gilbert a'Beckett was writing his comic histories (England, Rome, etc.) I wonder what was going through his head. In a comic history of anything, most writers and readers understand it involves a lot of selective historical amnesia, mood-altering tricks and other forms of cover-up. But passage of time softens a lot of things – we remember getting mail from Hastings (Sussex) years ago, with part of the postmark reading “Hastings – popular with tourists since 1066”. Although I could imagine a'Beckett writing that, I doubt if he would have wanted to handle the circumstances surrounding the death of Edward II (father of the great Edward III) whose general ineptitude and poor judgment, unduly influenced by his preoccupation and infatuation with Hugh Despenser (the younger), ultimately led to his execution. In those days ůmore
An auction of Rare & Important Travel Posters at Swann Galleries on Thursday, October 26 promises vicarious thrills and worldwide destinations, teeming with the work of renowned graphic artists such as Roger Broders, Adolpe Mouron Cassandre and Jean Dupas. The sale is especially remarkable for its dazzling selection of Art Deco works, embodying the Golden Age of luxury travel. The style is epitomized by Jean Dupas’s commission for the newly-formed London Passenger Transport Board, in which he envisions the city as an elysian wonderland; two landscape works from 1930—Thence to Hyde Park… and Where is this bower beside the silver Thames?—are each valued at $15,000 to $20,000. All of the six posters Dupas designed for the Underground are present in the sale, with the four 1933 works carrying an estimate of $4,000 to $6,000 each.
Brightly-colored Deco depictions of European getaways by Pierre Commarmond are led by La Route des Pyrénées, circa 1925, and Villers sur Mer / La Plage des Enfants, circa 1935, one of the few works by the artists to depict people enjoying the advertised locale, each with an estimate of $1,000 to $1,500. A grouping of scarce and colorful works by poster visionary Roger Broders is led by Marseille / Porte de l’Afrique du Nord, 1929 ($5,000 to $7,500). The iconic Sainte –Maxime, 1929, and Monaco Monte – Carlo, circa 1920, are each valued at ůmore
Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books come to Swann Galleries on Tuesday, October 17. The wide-ranging auction of some 300 lots covers many topics and periods. Setting the sale apart is a prodigious selection of early books relating to food and wine, with highlights including L’Humore Dialogo, Milan, 1564, a treatise by Bartolomeo Taegio on viticulture, valued at $4,000 to $6,000, as well as the first edition of Domenico Romoli’s La Singolare Dottrina…dell’Ufficio dello Scalco, Venice, 1560, a guidebook for hoteliers and chefs with a year’s worth of menus ($2,000 to $3,000). Also available is a first edition of the oldest known Spanish-language book on carving, a Latin translation of a third century work describing imaginary banquets full of scholarly conversation, and various cookbooks and instruction manuals.
The sale is led by a large array of important works from the scientific revolution, including the first edition of Thomas Salusbury’s Mathematical Collections, London, 1661, containing the first English translation of Galileo Galilei’s System of the World, in which he proved the validity of the Copernican heliocentric theory ($10,000 to $15,000).
A guide to conduct for rulers by thirteenth-century Augustinian philosopher and theologian Aegidius Romanus, also known as Egidio Colonna, Archbishop of Bourges, titled Lo Libre del regiment del princeps, 1480, is present in the first edition published in Catalan in Barcelona—one of the earliest books printed in that language ($10,000 to $15,000).
From the Age of Exploration is the complete first-edition set of nine volumes recounting Captain James Cook’s voyages to the Southern Hemisphere, the South Pole and the Pacific Ocean. These official accounts, containing numerous engravings of scenes encountered on the journey, were published in London from 1773 to 1784 ($10,000 to $15,000). Also available is the first edition in the original Greek of Libri Novem, by Herodotus, published in Venice in 1502, previously in the possession of the Venetian Doge Mario Foscarini, with an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000.
Medical highlights are led by Hippocrates’s Libri Omnes, bound with Paul of Aegina’s Libri Septem, both of which were published in Basel in 1538 ($4,000 to $6,000). Also available is the first edition of Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Monstrorum Historia, Bologna, 1642, illustrated with more than 450 woodcuts depicting monsters, prodigies, portents, et cetera, as well as true medical accounts, such as the first description of a bladder exstrophy ($3,000 to $5,000). The first full-length medical book printed British North America, ůmore
The annual fall gathering for bibliophiles, the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, will return to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston’s beautiful Back Bay for its 41st year, November 10-12, 2017. More than 120 dealers from the United States, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Australia will exhibit and sell a vast selection of rare, collectible and antiquarian books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, maps, atlases, modern first editions, photographs, and fine and decorative prints.
One of the oldest and most respected antiquarian book shows in the country, the event offers the ‘crème de la crème’ of items that are available on the international literary market. Whether browsing or buying, the Fair will offer something for every taste and budget—books on art, politics, travel, ůmore
If life did not imitate art, where would we be? Eyeless in Gaza, like Milton’s Samson. But art affords us limitless life, raining and reigning amongst the thorns and roses. Since I was a child I have loved Italian opera. I was fortunate that besides the Kennebunkport Playhouse – where I grew up on Tallulah Bankhead, Estelle Winwood, Edward Everett Horton, Wilfrid Hyde-White and others of my pre-teen vintage – we had the Arundel Opera Theater, a semi-professional outfit that put on such schmaltzy shows as Blossom Time, Song of Norway, The Vagabond King, Desert Song, Rose Marie, and The Student Prince. As a child I fell in love of course with all the heroines and some of the chorus girls – I remember asking my mother, when I was about ten, how old you had to be to get married; and when I was sixteen I sent a love sonnet to Tallulah Bankhead which, fifty years my senior, she somehow managed to ignore. The opera company also did two or three Gilbert and Sullivan shows each season, and by the time I went away to school I knew all of the patter songs by heart. Or, at least, the words. In my youth I had not yet learned that in order to perform those songs you really have to be able to sing. ůmore
Pierpont Morgan, the founding benefactor of the Morgan Library & Museum, was drawn to the beauty of gems. He acquired and later gave away large collections of valuable stones, including the legendary Star Sapphire of India to New York’s American Museum of Natural History. He also became fascinated with medieval manuscripts bound in jewel-adorned covers. Magnificent Gems: Medieval Treasure Bindings brings together for the first time the Morgan’s finest examples of these extraordinary works. During the Middle Ages, treasure bindings were considered extreme luxuries, replete with symbolism. On a spiritual level they were valued because their preciousness both venerated and embellished the sacred texts held within. But the bindings were also meaningful on a more material level, as the sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, pearls, and garnets from which they were made served as evidence of their owner’s wealth and status.
Opening September 8, 2017, Magnificent Gems features such masterpieces as the Lindau Gospels (ca. 875), arguably the finest surviving Carolingian treasure binding. [illustrated at the right] Also on display is the thirteenth-century Berthold Sacramentary, the most luxurious German manuscript of its time. In total, nine jeweled medieval works are presented, along with a number of Renaissance illuminated manuscripts and printed books in which artists elaborately depict “imagined” gems. On view through January 7, 2018, the exhibition is installed in the Morgan’s intimate Clare Eddy Thaw Gallery, ůmore
The U.S. Election of 2016 was a game-changer for all sorts of reasons. To say the populist revolt came as a surprise to party regulars across the political spectrum is an obvious understatement, but the resulting emotional meltdown by people still in shock over the shifting loyalty and unexpected response of traditional working class voters (many of whom had supported Democrats since the Great Depression of the 1930s), only shows that it pays to do your homework. People who follow this column will recall that in July of 2016 we explained some of the reasons why Trump would perform bigly¹ in the 2016 general election. What follows is some observation and analysis that may contribute towards an understanding of recent trends. Or maybe not. ůmore
We've attended the Cooperstown Antiquarian Book Fair many times over the years – primarily to promote Book Source Magazine, organize book-signings for BSM writers, scout for books for ourselves, catch up with old friends, and to simply hang out for a day or so in one of the most interesting and attractive villages in the region. It's also close by.
Not having participated in a book fair (as a bookseller) for many years, I wasn't sure how to prepare, since I hadn't personally experienced the change brought about by the public's paradigm shift in buying habits. But thanks to some good advice from an old friend and colleague, we sold more than at any book fair we'd previously participated in, even though we brought a small fraction of what we would have done in the past. Almost everything that could be searched for (and found) on a smart phone was left behind in Cazenovia, much to the visible frustration of browsers with iPhones in hand. Mostly ůmore
John C. Huckans Books. A very small selection of rare, scarce & unusual books in the areas of Americana, Literature, Latin Americana, Utopian Communities, Miscellanea offered for sale by John C. Huckans Books.
Pre-Fire Chicago Map by J.T. Palmatary Sells for Nearly $200,000 at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers' September 13 Auction
Palmatary's birds-eye view (Chicago: Braunhold & Sonne, 1857) sold for $198,600 against a pre-sale estimate of $20,000 - $30,000. The example offered by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers was the only known obtainable copy of the map in private hands. Having sold to a collector in Chicago, it remains in private hands. “As the map is one of only four known copies, we're thrilled that it sold to a Chicago area collector,” said Gretchen Hause, Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.
Palmatary is known for his aerial views of cities. The birds-eye view of Chicago was completed just one year after the Illinois Central Railroad was built, which appears in the foreground of the map. Another notable feature is an area called “The Sands,” visible in the lower right-hand corner. Notorious in its time, the area was known for having a high concentration of brothels, gambling dens, saloons and inexpensive motels. In 1871, during the Great Chicago Fire, the Sands became a point of refuge for displaced Chicagoans. Palmatary detailed notable places in the city, as depicted on the map via a lower margin legend. The view includes street names, homes, churches and points of industrial interest.
"The market remains strong for rare material in excellent condition. Both of these things contributed to the high price realized for Palmatary's Chicago map," said Hause. The Fine Books and Manuscripts department is now accepting consignments for its December auction. Visit lesliehindman.com for additional information.
Resurgence of Interest in Modern Literature
The Fine Literature and Fine Books auction at PBA Galleries on July 27th showed an upswing in prices of modern literature. Sales were strong with nearly 80% of lots sold and heating bidding on a number of the high spots. It appears from these results and strong sales at other auction houses, the 19th & 20th century literature market has recovered from the lows of a few years ago.
The first American edition of Moby-Dick; or, the Whale, though rebound in 20th century full brown levant morocco, sold for a healthy $9,600. Melville’s book is considered to be one of the most important American novels of the 19th century and is based on his experiences at sea and the actual sinking of the whaling boat, Essex, by a sperm whale in 1820. This edition followed the English edition by a month and contains thirty-five passages and the “Epilogue” omitted in the London printing. Selling for its presale high estimate of $6,000 was a first edition of J. D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye in a first issue jacket in very good condition. The jacket has the original "$3.00" printed price present and the photo credit of Salinger's portrait by Lotte Jacobi on rear panel, and with Salinger’s hair just touching the top edge of the rear panel. One of the best novels of the 20th century, it tells the classic story of the "cynical adolescent" Holden Caulfield.
The Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 24 volumes topped its presale estimate, selling for $5,400. Quite rare in the original paper dust jackets, this is one of 750 copies of the “Crowborough Edition,” signed by Doyle on the limitation page. The set has all of Doyle's major works, including the Sherlock Holmes series, The Lost World, The White Company, Sir Nigel, The Refuges, Memories, etc.
Other highlights of the sale selling above the presale high estimates include Estelle Doheny’s copy of The Red Badge of Courage. The first edition, first issue of Stephen Crane’s most enduring work about the American Civil War and a true high spot of American literature sold for $5,400. A First Edition, first issue of The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien sold for $5,100. A near fine copy of the second title in the high fantasy series Lord of the Rings trilogy, it contains a folding map of the Middle Earth tipped to the rear endpaper. A first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's great masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, sold for $5,100, nearly twice its presale estimate. Considered to be the epitome of the Jazz Age in American literature, this copy is a first issue in the original dark green cloth housed in a custom cloth box.
PBA Galleries holds sales of fine, rare and collectible books every two weeks. For more information regarding upcoming sales, consignments, or auction results, please contact PBA Galleries at (415) 989-2665 or email@example.com.
Religious Material Performs Well at Freeman's June 16th Sale
On Friday June 16th 2017, Freeman’s presented the Books & Manuscripts sale, whose catalogue included more than 350 lots spanning everything from sacred texts to autographed letters, and even photographs of the moon taken by the Surveyor probe. The sale achieved a 90% sell-through rate and totaled over $800,000.
The two top-selling lots of the day were both sacred texts. Lot 156, a Single leaf Hebrew Bible pericope, printed by Gutenberg in 1455, sold for $53,125. As the first major book produced using moveable type, the Gutenberg Bible remains one of the scarcest books conceivable. The next lot, a Portable Manuscript Latin Bible composed in 13th-century France (Lot 157) sold for $50,000. The historic significance of both of these texts extends beyond any religious affiliation.
There was a palpable excitement in the room when bidding for a lithograph of the interior of the Hebrew Synagogue of Charleston, South Carolina (Lot 212) skyrocketed, eventually selling for $25,000, one hundred times its initial estimate of $250-400. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1838 and was rebuilt several years later. One of the oldest Jewish congregations in the country, the synagogue is also the oldest in continuous use, since its founding in 1749. The lithograph was printed in Philadelphia, and shows the vaulted interior of the original structure, which is now known as the Congregation Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim.
Another historical document from the south captured the attention of bidders that afternoon. A letter written by Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee (Lot 195) during the 1864 Second Battle of Deep Bottom, from his headquarters in Virginia, sold for ůmore
Hay-on-Wye established itself as the first book town in the world and remains the most famous thanks to the pioneering efforts and promotional talents of Richard Booth. Other rural villages have tried to emulate that model but few have had lasting success. Book towns are essentially cooperative efforts and the fact that many have been launched to great fanfare and later faded to oblivion points out the obvious – initial passion needs to be sustained by dedication and hard work. One success that was featured in the Guardian delves into the interesting back story about how the Hobart Book Village came to be and how, after more than 10 years, it continues to thrive.
As we have established the book business is always at heart a “Treasure Hunt”. It's axiomatic that experience will bring success if paired with hard work and a little luck. Remarkably the luck factor tends to increase in direct proportion to the amount of hard work spent, but that's another story. At the annual week-long Colorado Antiquarian Books Seminar (CABS), held each Summer in Colorado Springs, the faculty, all dedicated antiquarian booksellers themselves, advise students to “Look At The Book”! That mantra is repeated ad infinitum throughout the week, yet it is the essential kernel from which all evaluation proceeds. Great advice even for those of us who have been engaged in this business for years. Careful examination of the book speaks volumes, (sorry), in identifying the specifics of the item. Edition, age, in some cases scarcity, provenance, printer, binding designer, watermarks, limitation, importance and value can be largely determined by that initial observation…but sometimes pieces just speak to you.
Often there is just something about an obscure book or piece of ephemera that gnaws at you. It demands more attention and I find myself setting them aside for further review. Recently as I was working through a box of miscellaneous old paper, largely publishing house advertisements for forthcoming books all from the 1890s to the 1920s I saw a small bifolium – a bifolium is a sheet of paper or parchment with writing or printing on the recto and verso of a folded sheet, creating four leaves or pages. There was no indication of ůmore
In Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, Tom Pinch goes to Salisbury to meet Mr. Pecksniff’s new pupil, and with time to spare he roams the streets:
But what were even gold and silver to the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed came issuing forth….That whiff of Russian leather, too, and rows and rows of volumes, neatly ranged within: what happiness did they suggest! And in the window were the spic-and-span new works from London…. What a heart-breaking shop it was.
Mr. Meador in these pages has already taken up my theme with poignant elegance – nay, eloquence; but here I offer just a few nostalgic notes. When I was young and twenty – like A.E. Housman – there was a used/rare/books and china shop here in Kennebunkport – The Old Eagle Bookshop— under the hand of Copelin Day, whose vintage 1770’s house has alas been re-vintaged. Mr. Day had a prodigious limp and was a curmudgeon of magnitude, but each day, weather notwithstanding, ůmore
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. ůmore
The literature of the Nakba (expulsion and dispossession of the Palestinian people, starting on or about May 15, 1948) is vast. There are many published personal narratives such as Sari Nusseibeh’s Once Upon a Country (NY, Farrar, Straus, 2007) and Karl Sabbagh’s Palestine, A Personal History (NY, Grove Press, 2007), unsparing historical accounts such as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford, OneWorld, 2006), and countless books and essays focusing on various aspects of the struggle. There is even a significant sub-genre of literature ůmore
Remember Peanutgate? Didn't think so, because I just made it up. At any rate, back in 2012 the grandson of a former president and one-time peanut farmer caused a bit of a ruckus by tracking down the source of a secretly recorded video of a meeting between Mitt Romney with some Florida campaign contributors in which Romney made some candid remarks about the 47% who were unlikely to support him in any case. James Carter arranged to have the 'hacked' video leaked to Mother Jones magazine and according to CNN on February 21, 2013 . . . ůmore
As far as I know, I am one of only two members of the Johnson Society of Australia who are booksellers. I strongly suspect that I am the only one who has ever felt ambivalent, even fraudulent, about his membership. Although I am not, I think, an unclubable man, when I attended my first (and only) meeting of the society, held in the elegant upstairs chambers of Bell's Hotel in South Melbourne, I skulked in the background, feeling like an interloper, an impostor. I was the Great Sham of Literature. Why? For one thing, at the time I had not read more than odd fragments of Dr. Johnson's writings. For another, a lot of what I had read fairly made my blood boil. And yet, and yet. Something about the man, while it repelled me, also attracted me, fascinated me, sucked me in. Enough, clearly, to make me want to join the club, pay my dues and turn up at the meeting. Not as a saboteur or as a heckler but in good faith. Even so, at that Johnson Society meeting ůmore