Leslie Hindman's September 13 Fine Books and Manuscripts auction will include J.T. Palmatary's birds-eye view of pre-fire Chicago. It was printed in 1857 by Braunhold & Sonne and is one of four known copies. Three other copies are held by the Library of Congress, the Newberry Library and the Chicago History Museum. The example to be offered by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is the only obtainable copy of the map in private hands. None other can be traced back to auction in the past 100 years.
Palmatary is known for his aerial views of cities. The birds-eye view of Chicago was finished just one year after the Illinois Central Railroad was completed, which appears in the foreground of the map. Opened in 1856, the Illinois Central was the longest railroad in the world, running 705 miles from Cairo, Illinois. The tracks were built on trestles, protected by breakwaters and dikes, on a strip of land several hundred feet out into Lake Michigan. The lakefront land was originally designated for public use in 1836, but after months of fighting with City Council the Illinois Central was granted use of the land.
Another notable feature of the map 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 hotels. In 1871, during the Great Chicago Fire, the Sands became a point of refuge for 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
On Thursday, September 28, Swann Galleries will offer Printed & Manuscript Americana, with highlights that span nearly 500 years and several continents. A fine selection of unique material features the archive of the Ponds, a missionary family living on the Minnesota frontier, valued at $30,000 to $40,000. Spanning nearly the entire nineteenth century, their correspondence recounts interactions with local Native Americans and attempts to convert them to Christianity. A number of ships’ logs, both military and merchant, is led by an unpublished medical journal kept by physicians aboard the USS Deane and other ships in the Continental Navy from 1779 to 1788, estimated at $20,000 to $30,000. One of the doctors who contributed to the journal was a man named Peter St. Medard, who is additionally represented in the sale by the journal he kept between 1772 and 1822, during which he observed an American naval attack on Tunisia ($6,000 to $9,000). A whaling journal from a mutinous 1839-46 voyage to the South Pacific is valued at $8,000 to $12,000, while several logbooks feature ever-popular examples of whale stamps.
Making its auction debut is one of two known first editions of The Honolulu Merchants' Looking-Glass, an 1862 pamphlet printed and distributed anonymously that slanders many of the city's leading merchants and makes for a titillating glimpse into the lives of nineteenth-century Hawaiians. The present copy is believed to have belonged to the instigator’s 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.
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 ůmore
Albany Book Fair Revived (submitted by Garry Austin)
Dear Friends & Colleagues:
The Albany Book Fair is back after a two year hiatus! The Albany Institute of History & Art is once again our sponsor and this year’s fair will be held November 26, 2017 at the Polish Community Center, 225 Washington Avenue Ext. Albany NY. The PCC is a well known destination and is home to a number of events, the DAR Antique Show; the Albany Stamp & Coin Show, the Train Show and a number of other well established and well attended fairs and shows. You'll find their exhibition space more akin to a hotel ballroom – carpeted, well-lit and without stairs or other impediments to hinder easy access. There is also a well regarded restaurant specializing in Polish cuisine but with a wide array of offerings. They offer a private lot with ample parking and an electronic marquis along the street that will annouce the fair weeks in advance.
Please contact us for an information sheet that will explain set-up, show times, booth sizes and fees. Move-in should be hassle-free with easy access to exhibition space from the private parking lot. There will be porters available for your use and a show equipment provider will make available both counter and wall display cases and pegboard units on a rental basis. We will provide you with a price sheet directly from them. The Albany Community has always embraced the book fair in the past and we expect solid support this year.
Once again we will be well represented as an underwriter of WAMC Radio, the NPR organ that blankets the entire Hudson Valley, the Capital District, the Southern Adirondacks, Western Massachusetts and Vermont. Print ads will appear in ůmore
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
Laugh about it, shout about it When you've got to choose Every way you look at this you lose...
I think our presidential elections have become perpetual reality television for all sorts of reasons – for one thing it gives steady jobs to political reporters and a lot of advertising dollars for people in the television news business. We might hope it will be over and done with come November 8th, but I suspect this is the nightmare that won't go away. My pretty safe prediction is that barely six months into 2017 t.v. 'news reporters' with little else to do will be stirring up speculation about likely candidates for 2020 and start the cycle all over again. I placed 'news reporters' in single quotes because by now it must be fairly obvious that journalists have all but given up their traditional role of being disinterested professionals and have become enthusiastic and unashamed curators of the news. ůmore
Events of late have made me wonder if Darwin got it only half right. I don't quarrel with the theory proposed in On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), that modern man evolved from earlier primates and the earlier primates from mammals, that in all probability, evolved from even more primitive life forms. Even though I don't pretend to be anything close to a biologist, it all seems to make a lot of sense. Some of us agree with Darwin's theories, some not. Some people argue the subject heatedly, while others simply agree to disagree. That is what civilized people (i.e. those who have evolved intellectually and morally) do. What uncivilized people do is kill others who do not believe as they do. ůmore
The day after the California primary the television news organizations lost little time analyzing the results. My personal bias, shared by many others, is of someone who being unable to support either major party candidate, will be going the third party route for the fourth consecutive election cycle. My respect for Bernie Sanders, even though I disagreed with him on several issues, is now moot. So it might well be 1856 all over again, but more on that later.
Honest television news coverage is hard to come by, but I find the PBS News Hour the least objectionable of the lot – no pharmaceutical ads or breathless celebration of pop culture personalities is a pretty good competitive advantage. Having said that, I was quite surprised (well, not really) by the list of guest analysts Judy Woodruff had on the News Hour the day after the primary. The three she invited to analyze Mrs. Clinton's big win in California and consequent locking up of the Democrat nomination, took turns gushing, giggling and swooning over the prospect of a ůmore
A friend in Germany has been a bit dazed and confused by the American presidential campaign and wondered if I, as an American, might be able to explain the Trump phenomenon. I can't, but here goes anyway...
The front-runners of the two major political parties would head my short list for a Who's Who of weird participants in the 2016 Flying Political Circus. Mr. Trump has no trouble coming up with endlessly reported soundbites that make a lot of people cringe, seems hell-bent on establishing himself as the Andrew Dice Clay of American politics, and then compounds the felony by having a lousy interior decorator. ůmore