December 2015 Archives

ITHACA, NY—National Book Auctions, located in Ithaca, NY, announces the launch of their next auction catalog. 

This catalog presents rare, antique and decorative books as well as select additions of ephemera, artwork and collectibles.  Prominent in this sale is our second session from a large collection of signed Maurice Sendak posters, accompanied by individual original Sendak drawings.  Another private collection includes early botanical books and engravings, as well as antique engraved maps.  Book lots include numerous important antique American West exploration titles.

Palm Beach, FL—The 13th Annual Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antique Show just got bigger!  The show, which formerly spanned 5 days, has expanded into a 7-day event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center (650 Okeechobee Blvd, West Palm Beach, FL 33401) from February 10th to the 16th, 2016, during Presidents¹ Day Weekend.

Presented by the Palm Beach Show Group, this important event will feature more than 170 international exhibitors, a captivating lecture series and stunning Designer Showcase, making it the most important event of its kind in Palm Beach.

Amherst, MA—The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is pleased to present Magician of the Modern: The Art of Leonard Weisgard, on view from March 8 to June 5, 2016. This major American retrospective celebrates the award-winning career of renowned picture book illustrator Leonard Weisgard and marks the 100th anniversary of his birth. Weisgard (1916-2000) was the first American illustrator to bring the dynamic new visual language of modernism to the picture book. In a career that spanned six decades and over 200 publications, Weisgard rewrote the rules for illustrating books for the youngest ages, discarding the sentimental realism of the past in favor of a kinetic, playful, semi-abstract approach.

Weisgard’s interest in the quality of children’s books began when he was just eight years old. As a schoolboy in New York City, he was dissatisfied with the books supplied by the public schools he attended. He found the illustrations monotonous and thought that the world “could not be all that dreary and limited to only one color.” He went on to study dance with Martha Graham and prepared for a career in modern dance. But when a leg injury dashed his hopes in that direction, he pivoted to graphic design and, with encouragement from a high school art instructor, enrolled in the art teacher-training program of Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Weisgard was still a student at Pratt when he published his first illustrations in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, House and Garden, The American Magazine, and Good Housekeeping. He was just 21 in 1937 when The New Yorker accepted his first cover design. That same year, he also published a picture book, Suki: The Siamese Pussy, followed by an adaptation of Cinderella.

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NEW YORK, 22 December 2015—Sotheby’s set a new world auction record for any piece of Judaica today in New York, when one of the finest copies of Daniel Bomberg’s Babylonian Talmud sold for $9.3 million (estimate $5/7 million, above).* The extraordinary volume was purchased by Stephan Loewentheil for the 19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop. The Bomberg Talmud led the sale of a selection of extraordinary items from The Valmadonna Trust, which totaled $14.9 million and became the most valuable auction of Judaica ever held.** Together with the auctions of Important Judaica and Israeli & International Art, Sotheby’s annual December sales of Judaica and Israeli Art totaled $22.6 million.

The Talmud, or “Oral Law,” is a compendium of hundreds of years of rabbinical discussion and debate which expound upon the laws of the Bible. Daniel Bomberg is responsible for the first complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud (1519-1523), universally recognized not simply as one of the most significant books in the history of Hebrew printing, but as one of the great books of the Western world. The record setting Talmud sold today is one of the finest copies of Bomberg’s edition- of which only 14 complete 16th century sets survive.

New York, NY, December 2015 —In 1848 Richard Wagner (1813-1883) began work on what eventually would become his monumental cycle of four music dramas, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). It would be twenty-six years before his masterpiece was fully completed in November 1874.

Now, in a new exhibition opening January 29, 2016, the Morgan Library & Museum explores the challenging creation of Wagner’s epic, and the staging of its 1876 premiere in Bayreuth and its 1889 American debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The exhibition includes rare music manuscripts, letters, books, costumes and stage designs, photographs, and historical artifacts. A number of the items are on loan from the Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth and have never before been on public display. Additional material comes from the Morgan’s music holdings, the Metropolitan Opera Archives, Columbia University, and from several private collections. Wagner’s Ring: Forging an Epic is on view through April 17.


New York—Swann Galleries’ December 8 auction of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books featuring The Mapping of America brought over $1.27 million, making it the highest-grossing sale in the Map department to date. 

The sale was headlined by William Faden’s The North American Atlas, London, 1777 [circa 1780], a rare and important atlas pertaining to the American Revolution. It sold for $341,000*, a record for the atlas at auction. Alex Clausen, Swann Galleries’ Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books specialist said, “The sale of Faden’s North American Atlas for $341,000 reinforces Swann Galleries’ position as the foremost place to buy and sell atlases and American cartographic material.”


Exhibition dates: January 20-April 17, 2016

Exhibition location: Romanesque Hall (Gallery 001, The Cloisters)

Only three decks of European hand-painted playing cards are known to have survived from the late Middle Ages—two made in Germany and one in the Burgundian Netherlands, all dating from the early to late 15th century. The only complete set of these luxury cards—The Cloisters Playing Cards, from the southern Netherlands—and representative examples from the other two decks will be featured in the exhibition The World in Play: Luxury Cards, 1430-1540, opening January 20 at The Cloisters.


Exhibition dates: January 8-April 11, 2016

Exhibition location: The Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery, 2nd floor, Gallery 690

Approximately 15 drawings by the 18th-century German artist Matthias Buchinger (1674-1739), who was born without hands or feet, will be presented in Wordplay: Matthias Buchinger's Drawings from the Collection of Ricky Jay, opening at the Metropolitan Museum on January 8, 2016. Despite his physical limitations, Buchinger was celebrated in his own time as a draftsman and calligrapher as well as a magician and musician, and poetic broadsides were written in Europe and Britain about his many talents and achievements. Known as "the Little Man of Nuremberg" because he was only 29 inches tall, Buchinger lived a nomadic existence and boasted a clientele that included noblemen, kings, and emperors, along with members of the public who visited him at inns and fairs, from Leipzig to Paris and London to Belfast.

The FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival will celebrate its 20th year when it returns in 2016 from Saturday 2nd to Sunday 10th April 2016. The first set of speakers and events are officially announced today. The world renowned literary event will once again bring together a distinguished array of speakers hosted in historic venues across Oxford.

The stellar line-up confirmed today marks the launch of next year’s event with the remaining speakers to be announced in the New Year.

NEW YORK, December 2015—Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded Columbia University Libraries $2.2 million to develop an online portal to the Corporation’s institutional records, from 1886 to the present. The philanthropic foundation’s records span all manner of formats from paper ledger books to audio and videotaped oral  histories and born-digital grant files. This project will extend Columbia’s capacity to provide online access to the Corporation’s materials while at the same time develop a set of open source tools that can be shared with other research libraries and cultural institutions. 

Carnegie Corporation donated its records to Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1990 and continues to transfer archival materials to the library on a regular basis. The files take the form of correspondences, financial records, memoranda, and reports—more than 180,000 documents in total. The earliest materials document Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropic efforts, including the construction of more than 2,500 libraries between 1883 and 1929. Among the later materials are files related to the Carnegie Corporation’s sponsorship of Gunnar Myrdal’s landmark 1944 study An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced Tuesday that the Center for Book Arts is one of 919 nonprofit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant. The Center for Book Arts is recommended for a $15,000 grant to support its 2016 series of exhibitions on contemporary book arts and related media. Featuring a number of guest curators, each exhibition will emphasize diverse artistic practices while examining the curatorial influence that the Center has had in the development of book arts. The exhibitions will include a wide range of book arts formats, from handmade book arts objects to site-specific installations with mixed media components. 

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, "The arts are part of our everyday lives - no matter who you are or where you live - they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the exhibitions program at the Center for Book Arts offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day." Art Works grants support the creation of art, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancement of the livability of communities through the arts. The Center's award is one of more than $27.6 million in NEA's first funding round of fiscal year 2016.

On 15 December Sotheby’s London will offer 48 lots comprising the archive of Robert Catterson-Smith (1853-1938), an Irish-born artist who worked with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones in the 1890s.

Comprising illustrations, photographs, letters (and even a lock of William Morris’s hair), the archive offers a rich insight into Catterson-Smith’s prominent, but frequently overlooked, role in the production of the Kelmscott Chaucer, considered one of the greatest achievements in the history of the printed press.

LONDON, Maddox Street—Over 100 lots of books from the reference library of Ceramic expert Tim Clarke will be offered in the Bibliophile Sale at Bloomsbury Auctions on Thursday 14th January. The collection focuses on continental ceramics following Clarke’s particular interest in Meissen and other German makers, alongside other European ceramics such as Sèvres and Italian maiolica. Prices range from £100 for group lots of books, to £2,000 for an account of the “Etruscan” porcelain service commissioned from the Royal Factory at Capodimonte in 1785 by Ferdinand IV, King of Naples, as a gift for George III.

Only a few copies of Interprétation des Peintures dessinées sur un Service de Table…, a rare account of the "Etruscan" porcelain service commissioned by Ferdinand IV, survive in British libraries. Four recorded copies have appeared at auction (including this one in 1978) one being defective and the most recent in 1989 [est. £1,500-2,000 Lot 54].


New York—Swann Galleries’ November 19 auction of select Rare & Important Travel Posters brought over $482,000 and set auction records for multiple artists and posters.

Nicholas D. Lowry, Swann Galleries’ President and Director of Vintage Posters, said, “This robust sale, with an enviable 80% sell-through rate, saw multiple records broken-setting new highs for both posters and, in four cases, for the artists themselves. Every auction has its surprises, and in this auction the Internet drove bidding especially high in the Italian posters being offered. Swann has been a market leader in broadening collector awareness about travel posters, and we continue to prove ourselves to be America’s best venue for offering select posters in this category.”

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Corning, NY—In May 2016, The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) will present the first comprehensive exhibition to explore the relationship between the exquisite works of famed 19th-century glass artists and naturalists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka and their impact on marine conservation efforts today. Titled Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, the exhibition features more than 70 exquisitely detailed glass models of marine invertebrates and dozens of the Blaschkas’ original drawings of aquatic lifeforms. Taken together, the Blaschkas’ creations serve as a time capsule of the ocean’s past, and provide a critical benchmark for 21st-century scientists trying to determine how many of these species still survive. On view at CMoG from May 14, 2016 through January 8, 2017, the exhibition will also feature footage taken by two Cornell University researchers who have set out to film living examples of the creatures captured in glass by the Blaschkas more than a century ago.

In April 2016, CMoG will also present Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope. This exhibition will tell the stories of scientists’ and artists’ explorations of the microscopic world from the early 1600s until the late 1800s, and show how their work drove improvements in scientific glass and the advent of modern scientific glassmaking. Key archival materials from the Museum’s Juliette K. and Leonard S. Rakow Research Library will be featured in the exhibition, alongside historically significant microscopes from external lenders, including an original van Leeuwenhoek microscope—one of only a dozen left in the world. The exhibit will be on view from April 23, 2016 through March 18, 2017.

New York, NY, December 9, 2015—During his lifetime Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694-1774) assembled one of history’s finest and most renowned collections of drawings. He amassed over nine thousand sheets that were dispersed after his death, and today works from his collection are found in museums and private collections around the world, many of them still in Mariette’s distinctive blue mounts. Despite his importance as a collector and connoisseur, he has never before been the subject of an exhibition in the United States.

On view at the Morgan Library & Museum from January 22 through May 1, 2016, Pierre-Jean Mariette and the Art of Collecting Drawings explores the eighteenth-century collector’s pivotal role in shaping our modern view of the old masters and provides a rare opportunity to consider the particular ways in which Mariette studied, mounted, altered, restored, and displayed the drawings in his collection. Through the examination of his methods, the exhibition highlights practices of collecting that persist even today.

DALLAS—When the art world first learned in 2009 that the Charles Martignette Collection of Illustration Art was headed to auction, art circles speculated over how the market would respond to what was widely considered the most comprehensive and impressive survey of the genre ever assembled. As the very last of works finally crossed the block in late 2015, the Martignette Collection has realized more than $21.68 million during nearly six years of sales at Heritage Auctions.

“We predicted this collection had the potential to set records and it certainly delivered,” said Heritage Auctions Co-founder James Halperin, a one-time employer (in the early 1970s) and long-time friend of Martignette. “America’s artistic history owes a great debt to Charles. I’m thrilled that Heritage played a role in sharing the collection with the entire world, and demonstrating what a brilliant guy he was."

ITHACA, NY—National Book Auctions, located in Ithaca, NY, announces the launch of their next auction catalog.   

This catalog presents rare, antique and decorative books as well as select additions of ephemera, artwork and collectibles.  Prominent in this sale is a large selection of signed Maurice Sendak posters, accompanied by individual original Sendak drawings.  Another poster collection being offered includes examples from the personal collection of activitist Michael Rossman, highlighted by examples designed by Rossman.  Book lots include numerous important antique Americana titles.

The second in the series of PBA Galleries’ auctions of the Heckrotte library, Rare Cartography, Exploration & Voyages: The Warren Heckrotte Collection, Part II - California & the Way Thither, on December 3, 2015, featured books and maps on the California Gold Rush, and on the surveying and mapping of the western portions of the present United StatesThe 235-lot auction included numerous rare pocket maps of the gold regions of California, the city of San Francisco, the Southwest into Mexico, the Rocky Mountain region, and more. Warren Heckrotte began collecting in the 1960’s, and his superb and extensive collection of maps, books, and atlases contains many scarce items that have not been on the market in several decades, some of which only a handful of copies are known to exist. The results brought record prices for many of the lots, with the bidders attending the auction, small in number but large in enthusiasm, joined by scores of participants by telephone and real-time bidding over the internet, as well as by those who left earlier proxy bids.


New York—Swann Galleries’ November 10 auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature Featuring the Lawrence M. Solomon Collection of mystery, science fiction and detective novels saw records set for multiple books, as well as an impressive auction debut for a rare Jules Verne text.  

 John D. Larson, Swann Galleries’ 19th & 20th Century Literature Specialist, said, “Genre fiction of the crime, mystery, detective and science-fiction variety is alive and well in the wake of the strong results from the Solomon sale. Records for several of the benchmarks of the genre were established including works by Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, Gaston Leroux and the first edition of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, which appeared at auction for the first time. The strong prices and records ensure that Dr. Solomon’s important collection will be remembered along with other market-defining auctions, including the Goldstone, Ackerman, Neville and Lackritz sales.”


BOSTON—Today, the Boston Public Library (BPL) announced that a map believed stolen from the library more than a decade ago, has been located at a New York City antiques dealer, and has been returned. The map, Carte Geographique de Nouvelle France, compiled in 1612 by explorer Samuel de Champlain, was found for sale with an antiques dealer for $285,000. The map, which has prominent identifying marks, was discovered by Norman B. Leventhal Map Center curator, Ronald Grim, and a third party expert has confirmed its ownership. The map will be on display in the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Central Library in Copley Square from December 4, 2015 through February 29, 2016.

“I want to recognize Ronald Grim for his attention to detail and passion for his work at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library,” said Mayor Walsh. “The library has one of the nation’s premier map collections, and I’m pleased we have restored this centuries old historic map to the collection.”


BOSTON, MA—(December 2, 15)—An exceedingly rare Ludwig van Beethoven signature will be auctioned by Boston-based, RR Auction.

The full endorsement signature in pencil, “Ludwig van Beethoven,” on the reverse of a statement written in pencil by his attorney Dr. Johann Baptist von Bach, one page, in full (translated): "You can keep the bow for the coming half year. Otherwise, one might raise some objections. From 1st October 1818 until 1st April 1819.” An ink notation below Beethoven’s signature reads, “Autograph of Beethoven. Presented as a souvenir to Mrs. Elizabeth Schmetzer by A. Schindler, Frankfurt a. M., in March 1855.”

Chicago, IL (NOVEMBER 30, 2015)—The three major personal property appraisal organizations jointly announce an initiative to educate the public regarding meaningful qualification standards for Appraisers. The Appraisers Association of America (AAA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), all support the effort as a needed step to improving overall appraiser professionalism and competency, and as furthering public trust in personal property appraisers.

To help guide the initiative and frame the overall scope, new mission and vision statements were developed. Leadership of the three organizations, Deborah Spanierman (AAA), Linda Trugman (ASA) and Christine Guernsey (ISA), explained in a joint statement, "Our mission is simple, to raise the public awareness of qualification standards for credentialed personal property appraisers who are members of The Appraisal Foundation sponsoring organizations". The motivating intent behind the mission is explained through the coalition's vision statement, "to protect the public from the risk and abuse of unqualified individuals performing personal property appraisals; to bring the Appraisal Foundation’s AQB (Appraisal Qualifications Board) standard to the forefront of public awareness; and to raise the profile of the credentialed personal property appraiser.”

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The visionary artistry of Lynd Ward, one of America’s foremost book illustrators during the first half of the twentieth century, is on view at the Grolier Club from November 19, 2015 through January 16, 2016.  This is the first one-person exhibition in New York City to present an overview of his remarkable achievements.  The exhibition Illustrated by Lynd Ward, From the collection of Robert Dance includes more than 60 artworks that reveal the range of Ward’s graphic accomplishments.  Ward is primarily known for his woodcut “wordless novels,” precursors to today’s graphic novel.  However, also significant, and relatively under-appreciated, are his illustrations in other media: lithography and mezzotint, brush drawings, line drawings, watercolors and paintings for more than 200 books. 

Ward’s “wordless novels”, with their bold, dramatically drawn wood engraved images, introduced American readers to a new literary structure in which pictures supplanted words as the narrative device.  These pictorial essays reflect the artist’s social conscience and address his view of American life in the years immediately preceding and during the Depression.  They remain exemplars of twentieth-century American illustrated books.

(Amherst, MA)—The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art commemorates the literary and artistic contributions of Newbery Award-winning American author and illustrator William Pène du Bois with the exhibition A Taste for Adventure: The Art of William Pène du Bois opening December 15 and running through May 1, 2016. Pène du Bois is the author and illustrator of numerous children’s books known for both their whimsy and serious themes. He published his first picture book at age twenty and continued writing and illustrating the rest of his life.

This exhibition, organized by Carle Curator Emeritus H. Nichols Clark, marks the centenary of Pène du Bois’s birth. Featured are illustrations from his 1947 Newbery Award-winning book, The Twenty-One Balloons, the fantastic story of Professor William Waterman Sherman’s around-the-world balloon voyage of 1883. Also on view are illustrations of Giant Otto, a large yellow hound who uses his size and strength to perform good deeds. Other endearing Pène du Bois characters come to life in Elizabeth the Cow Ghost, The Horse in the Camel Suit, and Porko von Popbutton. Pène du Bois’s illustrations animate text by such legendary authors as Isaac Bashevis Singer and local professor and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur.

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