Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar – Day 5
Guest Blogger – Rick Ring
Winner of the AbeBooks Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar Scolarship
The morning session was given by the ephemera dealers Margolis & Moss, who have dealt in all sorts of “non-book” printed and manuscript material for over 30 years. Bookseller lore is the mythology of the book trade, and like all mythologies, there is a pantheon . . . or rather, there are multiple pantheons which change over time. David and Jean delivered a slightly altered version of a talk they gave to RBMS last month, but I was intrigued to learn of some of the collections they are currently building (19th century trade cards, for instance, and an exciting collection on Mexican tourism from the 1880s to 1968). They have amassed literally tons of material, and some fortunate institution which has the vision and wit to appreciate it (and the pockets to back it up) will benefit greatly by their efforts.
Michael Ginsberg gave a 40-minute presentation on auctions, including the various terms of sale one will likely encounter, auction room etiquette, and some warnings from his long experience in the business (he’s been selling books since 1956). Several other dealers shared some auction stories, and that paved the way to the charity auction in which most of us participated (I placed bids on three lots, but they went out of my range quickly). Forty (40) lots realized about $5,000, which will be sent to the libraries (only for book funds) which have donated materials to the seminar in proportion to their support. Lots were donated by the faculty, and included T-shirts and card set catalogues from Between the Covers; a pristine copy of the catalogue of the Lessing J. Rosenwald collection at the Library of Congress (inscribed by Dan DeSimone, its curator, which was knocked down at $325), a first edition of John Dunning’s The Bookman’s Wake, signed and dated (which brought $180, a bargain); and the sleeper of the sale, a first edition (signed and inscribed presentation copy) of Nicholas Basbanes’ A Gentle Madness, which brought a whopping $550 (two gentlemen really wanted the book, which goes to show that it only takes two to make a great price). But the highest price (which is normal) realized was for two people to attend a gourmet dinner with the faculty—achieved this year at a price of $950 (the record is something like $1,400). We all emerged from this adrenaline rush and went to lunch—and that was the point which was driven home: an auction can create an exhilaration that clouds thought and purpose if one is not careful, so it’s best to be prepared unless you want to emerge like the blinking novice from a casino, dazed and broke.
The indomitable Dan Gregory gave a fast and furious (but dense and effective) presentation on marketing, and later (more importantly for me) on fakes, forgeries, and theft. This session was enough to make us really really nervous about buying.