On Tuesday, May 1, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sells Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 490 lots. Top lots are expected to include Williamson and Howitt's Oriental Field Sports (1805-1807), with forty hand-colored aquatint plates; a copy of the first printed Bible concordance (Strassburg, not after 1474) in a contemporary binding; and Audubon's "Purple Heron" (all estimated at $10,000-15,000). Other lots that caught my eye include a first edition of Ivanhoe in original boards ($2,000-3,000), an 1841 Audubon letter to Boston publisher Charles C. Little ($1,500-2,500), and an early facsimile (1833) of George Washington's Revolutionary War accounts ($100-200).


Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers in Kilkenny, Ireland holds a Rare Book & Collectors' Sale on Wednesday, May 2, in 850 lots. The one to watch here is the first edition copy of The Hobbit, estimated at ??20,000-30,000.


Thursday, May 3 sees a Graphic Design sale at Swann Galleries, in 254 lots. Man Ray's London Transport "Keeps London Going" poster (1938) is expected to lead the way at $80,000-120,000. A 1902 Beethoven exhibition poster by Alfred Röller could sell for $30,000-40,000.


Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Fine Literature: The Fred Bennett Collections (with additions), in 514 lots. A first edition of Jack Schaefer's Shane, signed and with a proof version of the dust jacket, is estimated at $10,000-15,000. One of 25 privately printed copies of Robert Louis Stevenson's Father Damien inscribed by RLS and with an added note to the recipient could fetch $3,000-5,000. A first edition of Tennyson's Queen Mary signed by Tennyson and inscribed by both Henry Irving and Ellen Terry is estimated at $2,000-3,000.




And last but certainly not least, Profiles in History will sell The Big Book: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous on Saturday, May 5. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. sued to block the sale last year, but a recent settlement will allow the auction to proceed. The auction house has placed an estimate of $2-3 million on the 161-page annotated typescript.


Image credit: Profiles in History

Vicki Traino, PR director for The Folio Society, made the transatlantic voyage from London to Manhattan last month, only to be greeted by a winter nor'easter rather than springtime blossoms. No matter, Traino was in town to talk about forthcoming publications from Folio, a welcome harbinger of a warmer season.

"Our spring lineup touches on themes of exploration and adventure, with a good dash of whimsy as well," Traino explained. Indeed, the London-based publisher's spring offerings include Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard, Niall Ferguson's Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, and a fresh translation of Japanese folk and fairy tales.

Matthiessen's 320-page opus won two National Book Awards--one in 1979 for Contemporary Thought, and the nonfiction prize in 1980 in its paperback form. The wilderness traveler, naturalist, co-founder of The Paris Review, and former CIA agent chronicles his quest through the Himalayas for the elusive snow leopard. "Our edition is gorgeous," said Traino, and it's hard to disagree--the spot-varnished cloth hardcover conceals printed map endpapers and twenty pages of color plates, including dozens of previously unpublished photographs taken during the Tibetan trek.

Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World doesn't shy away from making a statement--Ferguson's sweeping account the British Empire's ushering in of the modern era was a lightning rod for controversy when it was first published in 2002, and the 2018 reissue won't easily fade into the background, either; the Union Jack-red cloth cover is stamped with a hand-glued printed letterpress front-board by British printmaker Peter Chasseaud.




A collection of 170 Japanese tales dating back a millenium reveals mythical and mortal characters whose battles with jealousy, greed, and love won't be all that unfamiliar to readers in 2018. This smart introduction to Japanese culture includes a preface by translator Royall Tyler, but the text is nearly eclipsed by Yuko Shimizu's (no relation to the Hello Kitty creator) sparkling illustrations. Four double-page spreads, seven color illustrations, and integrated black-and-white sketches offer vivid contemporary interpretations that seamlessly harmonize with the stories. Bonus: the slipcase has a circular cut-out revealing a silver moon on the book's cover. (Be on the lookout for a Q&A with Shimizu in a few weeks!) 

If these titles aren't enough, don't fret: summer's catalog will be on its way soon.

I first learned about the beloved London generalist secondhand and rare bookstore Any Amount of Books' purchase of 20-25,000 publisher's file copies from artist and Marchpane rare book dealer Natalie Kay Thatcher's Instagram feed.


Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 1.53.59 PM.pngAs soon as I could the following week, I dropped in and bought a handful of first edition file copies by women writers for The Second Shelf. I also happened to be in the store yesterday, and bought a few more. I like the idea of a copy that sat in a publisher's archive as a sample of the book as they published it. They stamp all sorts of marks on the pages, usually anathema to dealers and collectors, but sometimes it contains the exact publishing date or how many first editions were printed, which can inform the collector about the publisher's belief in or relationship to the author. But I also realized, as a new bookdealer, that I knew very little about what a file copy really meant to the rare book trade or collector. They certainly didn't seem like much of a big deal, as the copies I bought were between £5-7 each, so I called up Any Amount of Books owner Nigel Burwood to ask him about them.


He bought the stock in bulk from Orion books, a publisher that has subsumed many other publishing companies including Victor Gollancz, the popularly collectable publisher of literature, particularly known for publishing fringe and genre (Burwood mentioned LSD, pacifism, and Orwell all in the same sentence), American authors, and sci-fi, recognizable for their yellow covers and bold font choice and splashes of red ink.


Often, he explained, publishers first call in the "big guns," like Peter Harrington, who have pick of the rarest and most prized books, so by the time Burwood bought his thousands, most copies of Orwell and Vera Brittain, for example, were gone (though he did find a few), and that some of those titles are worth a great deal. He mentioned that a friend of his once was able to buy a file copy of Ford Madox Ford's The Questions at the Well, which was printed in such a small quantity that it was pretty much unknown. Those type of books are so rare that collectors never have them. "File copies are known to dealers as a wonderful thing, you get some of the great rare books as they are sometimes the only copies available, it had such a small print run."


They aren't to everyone's taste though, Burwood pointed out. "It's a literary taste, a bibliographical thing. And most dealers can't handle that quantity of books the publisher wants to clear from their storage, but we can." 


Any Amount of Books has only looked at 25% of their acquisition so far and they are having fun decorating their windows with the stock. Many are available in the store, but many of the nicer and rarer things are available online. They are still relatively affordable, at £30-50 each. 


Image credit: A.N. Devers


SamuelTaylorColeridge.jpgIn case you missed the news that surfaced two weeks ago in Britain, it bears repeating here: the casket of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the great English Romantic poet, was rediscovered in a wine cellar beneath a church in England.

Coleridge, author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, died in 1834 at age 61 from heart failure, possibly connected to his decades-long addiction to opium. The poet passed away in Highgate, London, across the green from Old Highgate Chapel where he was originally interred in a family vault. 127 years later, in 1961, the family vault was found to be derelict and a successful international fundraising appeal led to the removal of Coleridge's coffin, and those of his family members, to the nearby St. Michael's Church. There, the coffins were placed in a seemingly suitable space, a dry and secure wine cellar beneath the church, then promptly sealed up behind a brick wall.  Over time, as staff changed and parishioners passed away or moved along, the exact location of the coffins was forgotten.

An excavation earlier this year revealed a ventilation block leading past the 1960s brick wall. There, after shining a flashlight through the hole, excavators rediscovered the five Coleridge coffins. The church has plans to restore the space and allow public access to the Coleridge tomb.

St. Michael's Church is also planning a Coleridge Day in June to help raise funds for the restoration. Surviving Coleridge family members will be present, with recitals and lectures on offer as entertainment.

[Image from Wikipedia]

If you have an inkling that you might want to pursue a career in the antiquarian book trade, and you haven't yet heard of or checked out the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar, stop what you are doing and get thee to the CABS website!

Now in its forty-first year, CABS provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience with prospective booksellers, librarians, and collectors in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market. This year's seminar will be held July 15-21 at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs. And there are many full scholarships available -- two for applicants from underrepresented groups that we'd like to draw attention to:

Both the Belle da Costa Greene Scholarship and the David Ruggles Scholarship, funded by collector and CABS faculty member Lisa Unger Baskin, provides to the successful candidate $2,000 to cover the cost of tuition, room and board ($1,646) with an additional $354 intended for travel or incidental expenses. According to the CABS website, these scholarships are "intended for a bookseller or a librarian from an historically underrepresented community. We encourage applications from booksellers and librarians from the African American, Latino/a/x, Asian American/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, working class, persons with disabilities, or other self-identified communities of booksellers or librarians who might benefit from this scholarship."

Don't delay: the deadline for these two scholarship applications is Friday, April 27.

We at Fine Books are big fans of CABS. To read more, see bookseller and CABS instructor Brian Cassidy's 2009 post and his 2012 follow-up; see also bookseller Megan Bell's 2014 essay about her experience, "My Week At Bookseller Hogwarts."

On Monday, April 23, Australian Book Auctions sells Books and Documents, in 182 lots. The catalog is available as a PDF file. Three issues of the London Chronicle from March 1789, containing the first printed account of the settlement at Sydney (Lot 3), are estimated at AU$8,000-12,000, while Watkin Tench's 1793 Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson in original boards (Lot 5) could sell for AU$10,000-15,000. 


Screen Shot 2018-04-15 at 11.11.23 AM.png


Doyle New York hosts a sale of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on Wednesday, April 25, in 604 lots. See Rebecca's post from last week about the items from the estate of Dr. Leo Hershkowitz coming up in this sale. Other lots include a first edition of The House at Pooh Corner signed by both Milne and Shepard and including an original Shepard drawing ($40,000-60,000) and a number of items from the estate of Arnold "Jake" Johnson.


At Swann Galleries on Thursday, April 26, Fine Illustrated Books & Graphics, in 278 lots. Copy No. 103 of Das Werk von Gustav Klimt (1918), the artist's only monograph published during his lifetime, could fetch $25,000-35,000. Fernard Léger's 1950 portfolio Cirque is estimated at $20,000-30,000. Among the other notable lots are a 1974 "Doubtful Guest" doll, one of an edition of fifty numbered copies signed by Edward Gorey ($4,000-6,000; pictured above), a copy of the Kelmscott Press Defense of Guenevere ($2,500-3,500), and a three-volume facsimile of the Book of Kells ($600-900).


On Saturday, April 28, Potter and Potter holds their Spring Magic Auction, in 705 lots. The lot to watch here is a two-volume scrapbook related to spiritualism and "spirit debunking," kept and annotated by Harry Houdini and later owned and added to by Joseph Dunninger, a magician and friend of Houdini's. The auction house has placed an estimate of $30,000-40,000 on the scrapbooks. A second lot of much interest to the Houdini collector is an extensive archive of material collected by Elliot Sanford, Houdini's secretary and assistant ($10,000-15,000). Ed Marlo's archive of magic trick manuscripts could sell for $5,000-8,000. Potter and Potter's catalogs always make for interesting browsing, so do have a look through this one.


Image credit: Swann Galleries

The folks at AbeBooks have decided to throw their hats into the podcast ring; as of March 20, "Behind the Bookshelves" explores book culture in bite-size portions. So far, the first five episodes examined the Penguin paperback reading revolution, the story behind Alcoholics Anonymous's bestselling Big Book, a literary tour of Oxford, the meteoric popularity and subsequent controversy surrounding the 1979 publication of Masquerade, and the globetrotting adventures of Mark Twain. Hosted by AbeBooks publicity director Richard Davies, each seven- to ten-minute show opens with the satisfying clack of a typewriter before launching into the story at hand.

"It's experimental at the moment," said Davies. "But we hope the podcast will appeal to readers and collectors, and anyone who loves a good story." Davies plans to attend next month's the ABA's Rare Book Fair in Battersea where he anticipates sleuthing down at least a few stories for future episodes.

Listen or download "Behind the Bookshelves" at the links below, and let the Abe team know what you'd like to hear about next! 

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/behind-the-bookshelves/id1362086807/
Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/Ismjl6nggnhj4eleyzokrucxmg4
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/behind-the-bookshelves/id1362086807/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-169439032/
Basic RSS: http://cast.rocks/hosting/11770/feeds/IVUTQ.xml

Coming to auction next week is a small collection of New York City books, maps, and ephemera that belonged to Dr. Leo Hershkowitz, a professor, urban archaeologist, and inveterate collector. Hershkowitz, who died last year at the age of 92, was well known as an "archival scavenger," as likely to be found sifting through hampers full of deaccessioned documents or digging up artifacts in construction sites. As the New York Times wrote in his obituary, "From bundles of papers earmarked for disposal by the city comptroller's office, he saved coroner's records from the late 18th and early 19th centuries that recorded infanticides, suicides, drownings -- and the killing of Alexander Hamilton by Aaron Burr in a duel across the Hudson in Weehawken, N.J."

Just over thirty lots from his estate head to auction at Doyle on April 25 -- most of Hershkowitz's collections were donated to institutions before his death, namely the N-YHS, the American Jewish Archives, and NYU's Tamiment Library. He also sold material at auction; what is on offer next week is "what remains of a very quality and scholarly New York collection," said Doyle's executive director of books, autographs, and photographs, Peter Costanzo. "He would stumble upon something New York and he would buy it."

Ratzer.jpgThe famous Bernard Ratzer map of New York is one such item, the choicest of the lots. It is the 1776 edition, reissued just as the Revolutionary War was getting underway and maps were in great demand. Today it is seen infrequently at auction, thus the estimate of $80,000-100,000. This was not one of his dumpster finds, Costanzo pointed out. Hershkowitz bought it at auction decades ago and cherished it. "It was just the one thing he wouldn't part with throughout his life," he said.

Eddy.jpgAnother favorite is the first edition of Thomas Eddy's Account of the State Prison, or Penitentiary House, in N.Y. City, 1801, with two folding engraved plates, and two folding letterpress tables. The estimate is $600-900. This book is rare and very desirable to Greenwich Village collectors, said Costanzo. Only one copy can be traced at auction in the last twenty years.

DT.jpgA rare, chronologically complete run of D.T. Valentine's Manual of the Common Council of New York, 1841-1870 is notable for its "wealth of maps, plates and information about the growing city during the 19th-century." The estimate is $1,500-2,500.

Picture Book.jpgA first edition of The Picture of New-York; or the Traveller's Guide through the Commercial Metropolis of the United States, 1807, with a map engraved by Peter Maverick shows contemporary hand-coloring. According to the catalogue, "Mitchill's Picture of New-York is the first New York City guide book of its kind and was the inspiration for Irving's Knickerbocker's A History of New York (1809)." Interestingly, said Costanzo, the map is an update of the 1803 Mangin-Goerck map, and it used "fanciful projection" to show the city not as it actually was, but as it might be one day, perhaps to lure tourists. The estimate is $600-900.

Images courtesy of Doyle NY

Our Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Sarah Carrier, North Carolina Subject Librarian at Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.

201710_CarrierSarah1.jpgWhat is your role at your institution?

I am the North Carolina subject librarian at Wilson Special Collections Library, UNC-Chapel Hill, and I have been in this role since 2015. I support research related to the history, people, and culture of the state of North Carolina. I also teach on this subject utilizing our special collections: I and my colleagues in Research and Instructional Services collaborate with faculty and instructors on campus to curate sessions for students in our learning spaces. We are especially invested in engaging our undergraduates, but my work supports anyone interested in the subject of North Carolina, so this work goes well beyond campus. I also do a lot of outreach with K-12 students and teachers as well, working on integrating primary sources into the curriculum of public schools. At Wilson we not only have a fantastic Rare Book Collection, but a collecting focus on the American South, so we therefore have North Carolina material across all of the collecting areas. This means that I get to work with photographs, maps, artifacts, manuscripts, as well as print, and this makes my job really fun and interesting.

How did you get started in rare books?

My first job in an academic library was at UNC-Chapel Hill working in the Serials department preparing materials for binding and working at the current periodicals help desk. This was when I was an undergraduate. So my career in academic libraries has been pretty long, but a very non-linear path brought me to special collections. I had already been working in the UNC-Chapel Hill libraries for some years before I went to library school, and my classes were really diverse, mainly focused on knowledge organization and metadata. Overall I've now had experience in serials, acquisitions, circulation, and even systems. But where my career in special collections began was as the reading room manager at Duke's Rubenstein Library. I had been interested in special collections, but what primarily drove me to that job was experience with and dedication to public services. Through that experience at the Rubenstein, I realized that I was where I wanted to be for the rest of my career: in special collections.

Where did you earn your MLS?

School of Information and Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill

Favorite rare book / ephemera that you've handled?

Difficult to say, but I suppose that one of my most favorite items in the North Carolina Collection are our editions of Mark Catesby's two volume The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, some of the first published depictions of North American flora and fauna. The hand coloring is incredibly vibrant and truly beautiful.

What do you personally collect?

I personally collect many things - probably too many things! I eagerly collect vinyl records, artwork by my friends, mid-century furniture and kitchenware (mostly Danish), vintage clothing. I also collect North Caroliniana of all sorts, if it fits into my budget. So that means printed material, knick knacks, ephemera, and collectibles. One example are kitschy "North Carolina" decorative plates for the walls of my house. I also have a lot of musical instruments of all kinds, but acquiring those was not always intentional.

What do you like to do outside of work?

In my spare time I work in my yard - technically my first career was as a gardener, as my first job as a teenager was at a local nursery. I ride horses (hunter/jumper). I love being outside - here in North Carolina we have a lot of beautiful natural settings not too far away from any one place. I play the records I collect at local clubs sometimes. For most of my adult life, I have also partaken in college and low-power radio communities.

What excites you about rare book librarianship?

I love pondering the life of an individual item, considering who once owned it, held it, and used it before it came to us. I am especially excited whenever I find ownership markings, names scribbled inside front covers, and to then try and find out more about that person. In the North Carolina Collection we have a lot of primers and schoolbooks with young people drawing inside of them, practicing their script and penmanship. I was always told not to write in my books, but in this case, I am always glad that they did! In addition to this, I am especially privileged to be a North Carolina librarian and able to connect people from the state to their history: the connection between people, our history, and the material is especially lively and personal as a result.

Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship?

I am very excited by the possibilities of Digital Humanities work. One aspect that really intrigues me is that through the non-linear structure of a website, for example, narratives can be presented in a multiplicity of ways, and viewers can interact with the scholarship in new, even spontaneous or unanticipated ways. I am seeking to learn more about text analysis as a way to further my own scholarship in Southern Studies and learn about tools that can help my researchers as well. If the material is presented online via the right platform that allows user-contributed content, the intriguing opportunity is there for collaboration with a potentially international audience.

Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you'd like to draw our attention to?

In the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library we hold an astounding variety and array of maps depicting the state, everything from rare maps from the Age of Exploration to 20th century railroad maps, and every genre and subject matter in between. A highlight from our collection is our extensive holdings of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps of North Carolina - these are invaluable for all kinds of research. We have a wide variety of our maps digitized and online as well: http://web.lib.unc.edu/nc-maps/

Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?

The 400th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh's death will be marked by an exhibit and symposium in September 2018 and hosted by Wilson Library. Sir Walter Raleigh materials abound in the North Carolina Collection, and a selection will be put on display for the event, which will host historians, cartographers, and literary historians. One item that will surely be on display is our original manuscript of Raleigh's commission for the Guyana voyage issued and signed by by King James I.

[Image provided by Sarah Carrier]

The rare book world is abuzz with the news that a film based on a real-life special collections robbery in 2004 is making its way to a national audience after a successful premiere at Sundance.

Animals.jpgAmerican Animals follows four Kentucky college students who plot to steal John James Audubon's Birds of America and Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species from Transylvania University's library. A librarian was injured in the heist, and the students eluded the FBI for two months--it's all there in John Falk's must-read 2015 Vanity Fair article, aptly subtitled "The untold story of the 'Transy Book Heist' is one part Ocean's 11, one part Harold & Kumar: four Kentucky college kids who had millions to gain and nothing to lose."  

As a cinematic caper, American Animals basically wrote itself--but Variety raves about Bart Layton's direction, calling his work "sensational" and "brilliantly constructed." The film hits national theaters on June 1. Until then, here's the trailer:  

Image via IMDB