Re: Luckiest Book Find Ever....
- From: "Shelf Space" <hauntedriver@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: 12 Jul 2005 06:02:22 -0700
John R. Yamamoto-Wilson wrote:
> Shelf Space wrote:
> >What is the luckiest book find you've ever had?
> If I had to point to a specific book it would probably be Samuel
> Clarke's Generall Martyrologie (1651, 1st edition), which I won on eBay
> for some $600. Even later printings tend to be priced upwards of $2000,
> and the only other copy of the first edition that I have seen was
> listed at around $24,000. That listing - on a private website - has
> gone now, I think, but of course I don't know whether it means the book
> sold at that price. Apparently Philadelphia Rare Books and Manuscripts
> listed a copy recently, but I missed that listing and I don't know what
> they were asking.
> Rather than specific books, though, I am happy to have found a specific
> dealer. He does not have a bookstore, either online or in bricks and
> mortar. You could best describe him as a scout, I guess, supplying
> collectors with choice items at choice prices.
> I happened upon him by bidding on one of his eBay auctions (I think he
> manages to place most of his incoming stock with established buyers,
> but every so often he ends up selling something off on eBay). I
> couldn't say for sure where he gets his material, but I suspect he has
> well-established links with libraries, which send boxes of
> de-accessioned stock to his doorstep.
> But what fantastic stock it is! My area of interest is (mainly) the
> religious and political controversies of the 17th century, and many of
> the highspots of my collection come from this dealer, including
> numerous 17th century publications on the Gunpowder Plot, the life and
> death of King Charles, etc., etc..
> Recent highlights include John Nalson, An Impartial Collection (folio,
> 2 vols., 1682-3, 1st edition), The Earl of Strafforde's Letters and
> Dispatches (folio, 2 vols., 1739, 1st edition), Sir Philip Sidney, et
> al., Letters and Memoirals of State (folio, 2 vols., 1746, first
> edition) and six narratives of the so-called Popish Plot (small folio,
> 1679-81, 1st editions, bound together in one volume), all in very good
> condition and never mouldy (mould being the great bugbear of collectors
> of older books), though sometimes in need of a bit of tlc in the form
> of immersion in cat litter and other means to remove mustiness from
> some of the volumes.
> All of these were either not listed anywhere that I was aware of or
> were being offered elsewhere at anything from twice to four times the
> >And what is the best book you narrowly missed out on acquiring?
> That would be Coverdale's Letters of the Martyrs (1564), offered on
> eBay a couple of years ago. I bid up to about $2,500 (which was all I
> could afford at the time), but was outbid.
> That's fair enough, of course, but what made this particularly galling
> was that an eBay seller called the-word, who was in cahoots with the
> winning bidder, contacted me shortly afterwards offering me the same
> copy for $8,500! It's a bit of a long story, but the-word had been
> banned from bidding by the original seller, who knew him of old, so he
> got round the ban by getting someone else to bid for him.
> I had observed the-word's auctions long before and decided I disliked
> his approach and would never buy from him, so I told him to get lost.
> But guess what? That very same copy of Coverdale has been offered by
> the-word on eBay continually from that time to this - only he puts the
> price up and up and up, and now it is listed for a stunning $45,000
> (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6935448963). As a
> further twist of the knife, he has the gall to advertise this auction
> as a "Clearance sale! Reduced from $49,000"! He's also recently started
> listing on ABE and is offering it there at the same price.
> If only I'd had a bit more money to play with, and could have outbid
> that sob!
The ones that get away are always the one that hurt the most! I have
missed out on / been usurped on / downright cheated out of a good half
dozen books, but the only way to deal with it is it to say that Fate
had decreed you weren't going to get it, so just move on to the next
book. I once called up someone to order a rare ghost story collection
by Edith Nesbit which was listed in a catalogue, and was told I was the
very first caller. So I asked to buy the Nesbit and was told it had
already sold. The dealer had either reserved it for someone else or had
lied about having a copy and falsified the entry just to make the
catalogue look good. On another occasion I was told the book that I had
paid for had been accidentally given away to charity, but curiously, a
rival collector in America suddenly popped up two weeks boasting about
having acquired a copy by gazumping someone else. The best story I
heard was when an Austrailian dealer cheated me out of a rare book
called 'Twiling Tales' by the Rev Boyd Carpenter. I'd bought it, paid
for it, and was waiting delivery, when I received a suspiciously worded
email saying they couldn't send me the book because the cover had been
mangled by their bookwrapping machine. I replied 'no problem, I only
want the sheets inside, the cover is a secondary issue', whereupon they
went to ground and refused to correspond any further. After a few years
book collecting, you learn to develop a nose for a truthful excuse and
a downright lie. Only recently I bought a misdescribed copy of SIX
GHOST STORIES by T G Jackson. But when I raised the matter with the
dealer, he couldn't have been more apologetic, and quickly processed a
generous discount on the book.
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