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ABA Newsletter 347, August 2008
ABA Summer Exhibition
The ABA Summer Exhibition was given an enthusiastic send off at an informal preview for the hosts, organisers and members of Council on the evening before the doors opened to the public on Friday 8th August.
A full report on the exhibition will follow once it has closed and the dust has settled, but the response of visitors so far has been extremely positive. Angus O’Neill and I are both greatly impressed by the level of support and array of material provided by the membership, which is everything we could possibly have wished for.
With 370 items in the exhibition there was enough to make a visit worthwhile without being overwhelming and, as a colleague suggested, a visitor would have to be very dull indeed not to find something of interest.
We feel it’s a credit to the Association, thanks to the support of Council and long hours put in by a small and determined team. Everyone will be thanked fully in the official report, but special mention must go to Mark James and Camilla Szymanowska who achieved remarkable things against the clock to produce a superb catalogue while Paul Lawrence’s beautiful design work has attracted favourable comment (and the attention of St Bride’s Library). Daisy Hawker’s help in dressing the exhibition was invaluable.
The solid support of Ian Smith and the staff at Quaritch, especially Katherine Spears and Claire Williams, was absolutely essential; the office was unfailingly supportive and Jolyon Hudson, Susanne Schulz-Falster, Michael Silverman and Leo Cadogan have also given generously of their time. Thank you all!
TRADE NOTES & QUERIES
JOINT ABA-PBFA DUBLIN FAIR FOR 2009?
The ABA is hoping to co-operate with the PBFA in a joint Dublin Book Fair in September 2009.
The present, highly successful, PBFA fair is limited to about 20 exhibitors, but for the joint fair some 60 members from both associations have expressed serious interest in taking part. If agreement is reached, which seems likely, the fair will take place in the Corrigan and Graves Halls at the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street.
The proposal has been developed by Chris Saunders, Joe McCann and Larry Hutchison.
ABA 2008 HANDBOOK
The new edition of the ABA Handbook is now in circulation - and, of course, the first ‘updates’ are noted on Page 20 of this Newsletter. A vote of thanks is due to Michael Silverman and the ABA Office for an impressive and attractive reference work which will remain current until 2010.
Peter Miller, one of the trustees of the ABA’s Benevolent Fund, attended the July Council Meeting to talk about the way in which the Fund could expand its role into educational grants. He explained that at present the Fund is restricted in this area by the Objects stated in the Trust Deed which say that it is only able ‘to promote education and research in the field of Antiquarian Bookselling by providing grants to students undertaing courses in Antiquarian Bookselling and to educational institutions conducting such courses’. The Trustees have agreed that their main function is to provide ‘relief in cases of need, hardship, financial distress, sickness, infirmity and old age persons who are or have been Antiquarian Booksellers and the widows and other dependents of such persons’.
This said, the trustees have now agreed ‘that not more than 25% of net investment income should be available for educational purposes in any one year and that this figure should be based on the audited accounts of the previous year.’ This means that, for the current year, £4,500 would be available, to be decided by Council.
Council will also look at expanding further the possible deployment of the educational fund and make suggestions for changing the educational remit of the Benevolent Fund in the future.
OXFAM – PURCHASE OF SECONDHAND BOOKS FOR RESALE
The Secretary has written to Oxfam to enquire about their policy for buying in books for resale in their shops. His letter and the reply from Oxfam are reproduced below. Please could we have the views of members on this topic – sent to the ABA office, please?
“To the Director of Oxfam GB:
We are writing to enquire about the Oxfam policy for the purchase of stock for Oxfam shops. We understand that you may purchase fair-trade items, but would ask in particular whether you purchase secondhand books? If you do purchase secondhand books for resale, has there been any change of policy on this in recent years, and are there any relevant Charity Commission regulations?
Thank you for your letter enquiring about Oxfam's policy on purchasing stock for shops.
We do as you quite rightly point out purchase fair-trade items and new books both from bona-fide and ethically checked suppliers and subject to the usual VAT and through Oxfam Trading Activities, quite separate from our retail operations line.
Oxfam has no defined policy on the buying- in of second-hand book stock and shops are not encouraged to buy books but be pro-active and self-sufficient in securing stock through the door or from private and corporate donors.
Any that do will be acting on a local initiative and with the approval of their Area Manager.
There has been no change in policy in recent years to the above.
Oxfam always seeks to operate within Charity Commission guidelines or regulations.
If there is a specific instance that has prompted you to write I would be interested to know and to look further into the matter.
I hope this helps to address some of your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.
Product Development Manager, Books – National”
SPANNING THE THAMES
Carol Manheim’s new book – Spanning the Thames. The river and surroundings from the Barrier to Teddington Lock is now available through Waterstones. Published under her imprint Artists’ Choice Editions, Carol commissioned twenty London-based artists to choose their favourite bridges and buildings along the tidal Thames and illustrate them using various media . Michael Harrison, who taught at The Dragon School, Westminster and worked at OUP for thirty years, has written the text which includes historical information and a few original stories.
The book is £12.95 but if you would like to order a copy direct from Carol, she is happy to give ABA members a 20% discount. For orders of six copies or more there is a 35% discount.
THE ROUND READING ROOM
The British Museum, which made a clear statement of the temporary nature of internal structures introduced into the Round Reading Room before the Terracotta Warriors and Hadrian exhibitions, has now reneged by applying for continued use of the RRR as exhibition space ‘in the run up to the 2012 Olympics’.
The BM says it ‘needs the space because of the success of recent exhibitions’.
A MOST UNSURPRISING ANNOUNCEMENT
‘Amazon.com Inc today announced that, subject to closing conditions, it has reached an agreement to acquire AbeBooks.... “We are very excited to be joining the Amazon family” said Hannes Blum, chief executive officer of AbeBooks.
‘The main illustration accompanying an article about the recovery of a stolen First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays was in fact taken from Michael Drayton’s Poly-Olbion... We wrongly referred to the First Folio as a manuscript; it is a printed book.’ (Thursday July 17, 2008).
At least one BBC radio news report also referred to the First Folio as a manuscript.
Jolyon Hudson scoured the net for ABAs ... and if you know of any more, please let him know ...
Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association
Aaron Burr Association
Adriatic Basketball Association
Adult Buddhist Association
Alaska Boating Association
Alberta Beekeepers Association
Alberta Bicycle Association
Alimentos Balanceados para Animales
Allied Beauty Association
Amateur Bodybuilding Association
Amateur Boxing Association
American Badminton Association
American Bakers Association
American Ballet Academy
American Bandmasters Association
American Bankers Association
American Bantam Association
American Baptist Association
American Bar Association
American Bartenders Association
American Basketball Association
American Bass Anglers
American Beauty Association
American Bedding Association
American Benedictine Academy
American Beverage Association
American Bicycle Association
American Bioenergy Association
American Birding Association
American Bison Association
American Board of Anesthesiologists
American Board of Anesthesiology
American Boatbuilders Association
American Body Armor
American Booksellers Association
American Bop Association
American Bowling Association
American Breweriana Association
American Bridge Association
American Building Association
American Bullmastiff Association
American Burn Association
American Bus Association
American Business Appraisers
American Business Awards
American Bicycle Association
An Bord Altranais
Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous
Appalachian Blacksmiths Association
Arizona Bioindustry Association
Arizona Builders' Alliance
Arkansas Building Authority
Arrowhead Builders Association
Arusha Beekeepers' Association
Asian Bankers Association
Asian Bioethics Association
Asian Black Association
Asian Business Association
Associação Brasil América
Associação Brasileira de Aeromodelismo (Brazil)
Associação Brasileira de Antropologia
Association du Barreau Autochtone
Association for Balkan Anthropology
Association for Behavior Analysis
Auckland Badminton Association
Australian Bankers Association
Australian Biotechnology Association
Australian Booksellers Association
Australian Bowhunters Association
Australian Braille Authority
Australian Breastfeeding Association
Australian Broadcasting Authority
Australian Bulb Association
Australian Business Academy
Auto Bedrijven Associatie
Autoklub Bohemia Assistance
Another Bloody Acronym
OLYMPIA - ANOTHER LOOK AT THE FIGURES
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have the greatest admiration for Adrian Harrington and his Olympia committee, and the ABA office team who do a tremendous job making Olympia the premier international book fair - in the world. Over £3million in sales in two-and-a-half days by 150+ exhibitors with an average take of £20,000+ tells its own story.
But I thought it would be a useful thing to do - it took a day - to look at the returns a little more closely, to get a feeling about their veracity and to see how the figures might be useful for future fairs.
This year, a 'box' was provided on the final day’s take-slip asking exhibitors to give their total take for the fair. There was clearly some confusion about this, but 72 out of 157 did manage to enter a figure which is a statistically meaningful percentage - 46%. (I was wrong to dismiss this aspect of the returns in the last Newsletter.) In fact, by adding up every sheet for the three days, the total sold during the fair was £3,264,724 - giving an average of £20,794. The discrepancy with the figures published in the last Newsletter is accounted for by ‘averaging up’ the number of slips that are either not returned or not filled in. However, by looking at the figures given by the 72 exhibitors who did manage to give a ‘fair total’ and extrapolating these to 157, the total take for Olympia comes to £3,249,743 - an average per exhibitor of £20,699. Astonishingly close.
Again, using the figures provided by the 72, 43% of sales were to exhibitors, 20% to visiting trade and 34% to collectors. Compare this to the published figures for 2007, when 32% of sales were to exhibitors, 33% to visiting trade and 35% to collectors. That seems to me quite a significant shift. Buying by exhibitors has increased significantly in relation to visiting trade, while sales to collectors hold steady.
This would indicate, to me at any rate, that exhibitors have more than enough time to view and purchase in the room - and the current laissez-faire approach to numbers of 'helpers' (this year the highest number of badges requested by a single exhibitor was 18) clearly gives the larger firms an advantage on the buying front.
Suggestions are being put forward for more ‘pre-buying’ time for exhibitors in 2009, but perhaps this should be reconsidered. LESS setting up time would give all visitors a fairer crack of the whip, as would a limitation on 'helpers'.
Analysing the take slips over the three days throws up some interesting stats about the percentages sold: at the top end, on Thursday 12 exhibitors took £30,000 or over - 8% took 37.4% of the day’s take; on Friday, 8 took £30,000 or over - 6% took 44%; on Saturday, 5 took £30,000 or over - 3% took 41%.
At the bottom end, on Thursday 61 exhibitors took £5,000 or less - 41% took 8% of the day’s take; on Friday, 84 took £5,000 or less - 68% took 16%; on Saturday, 105 took £5,000 or less, 70% took 17%.
Even assuming that the top takers are different day-to-day up to 25 firms (probably more like half that number) are dominating proceedings. Using the stats provided by the 72 who gave a ‘fair total take’, approximately 20% of exhibitors made 55% of the sales overall, while at the bottom, 49% made only 14%, (77 taking less than £10,000 each). Which leaves the middling 31% doing 31% of the sales between £10,000 and £30,000.
To me, that suggests that the bigger booths could well stand a higher rent, while smaller ones should come down in price. The ‘average’ is misleading - relatively few firms are doing the ‘big business’, while an awful lot are only doing so-so.
Are the figures accurate? There are three problems, but having gone through all the paper work, I don’t think they are that significant. There are rather too many ‘zero takes’ - some 68 over the three days, a few don’t bother to fill in the form at all, and the odd round figure of ‘£100,000’ makes one wonder. My personal conclusion is that 90% make an honest attempt at giving fairly accurate figures (sometimes down to the pennies). So I think the figures given can be taken to be reasonably close to the truth overall - no need, in my view, to ‘extrapolate’ for the non-returns, as they will almost certainly be balanced up by those who may exaggerate their take.
I am always being told that overseas fairs never trouble their exhibitors with ‘takeslips’. That’s a pity, because if they did, we could look at international trends by analysing the figures at New York, LA/San Fransisco, Boston and other major fairs. All credit to the ABA London Olympia organisers for continuing to 'take the takes' - but the important thing is to look closely at the results and use them for future planning.
Edward Bayntun-Coward on Books and Bindings - and the Buildings of Bath
I am averse to all form of forms, but was recently intrigued by the question: “How long have you been in business?”.
It is almost 23 years since I received my first pay cheque from Magg, for helping in the packing department between school and university. I have been involved in the family bookshop and bindery in Bath for 42½ years, ever since I was brought in at a week old. Now that I go by the name of my great-grandfather, George Bayntun, I could claim 114 years of continuous trade. Or I might refer back to Robert Riviere, who started in Bath in 1829, and was incorporated into our new premises in Manvers Street in 1939. In other words, I was born to be a bookseller. I have never, however, seen my vocation as entirely a matter of life and death.
While working at Maggs I discovered an alternative world in Soho, just around the corner from Quaritch, and I spent many of my evenings and regular nights talking to strangers. For ten years I worked as a volunteer at the Central London branch of the Samaritans, receiving calls and meeting with those who managed to make it in to the centre. The width of the margins in some rare book may be of a certain significance but should not be confused with the relevance of a human life. Listening to the experiences, and possibly the final words, of a suicidal caller at 3am put the wonderful world of books into context. Then along came our children and I was expected to be back home at night. My father, Hylton, died in 2000, and I returned to Bath with Laura, the next generation to carry on the business. Much remains as before – Penny, Julie and Jeremy are still at their stations in the shop, we close for lunch between 1.00 and 2.00, our ten binders have now spent 327 years at their benches, and everything continues to be done entirely by hand (including the invoices).
At the same time the business has undergone profound change. How many dealers have visited us in the last year? 40 years ago American buyers would come over regularly and clear the shelves of our first editions in new bindings and rebacked antiquarian titles. These would be replaced with the same again – Churchill in red morocco, Greene in green. Nowadays the orders come not from the trade but from individuals throughout the world, with the computer replacing the carriage as the means of access. Sets of Churchill are still available in red, but we have ceased to bind Galsworthy’s lesser novels and we keep an eye on the Booker prize winners. We now use over forty different colours of leather and a good proportion of our bindings are conceived as unique pieces. With over 10,000 finishing tools we have always been spoilt for choice, and we are now working our way through them. A recent binding was decorated with over 380 different tools. Cockerell marbled paper sometimes makes way for Japanese patterns or suede doublures. Dare I say it: some of the designs are distinctly modern.
Dad enjoyed holding court in the front shop, though by Wednesday he was usually ready to take the train to London on ABA business. I have a room on the upper floor, where I try to make a case for selling the books that people would not expect to find on ABE. Bindings are my thing, but I like to range across subjects and over the centuries. I prefer objects that have a visual appeal, and that may be classified as fine.
Bath is, of course, full of fine buildings and beautiful spaces and views. It is the United Kingdom’s only World Heritage City (and a good place to be in the event of a war, as - at least on paper - it is now protected by the Geneva Convention). We suffered in the Baedeker raids of 1942 and from the “Sack” of the 1960s and ’70s, when around 1000 Georgian buildings were demolished and replaced by some very mediocre, and some monstrous, modern architecture. The main defender of the best of Bath has long been the Bath Preservation Trust, a body with strong literary links through the likes of John Betjeman and James Lees-Milne. I have now been Chairman of the Trust for a couple of years; my predecessor having served for 20 years. We have about 1400 members, a royal patron with strong views on architecture, and my fellow Trustees are well endowed with job titles and strings of letters. My own C.V. is embarrassingly brief, but I am learning and can distinguish my Dorics from my Ionics (or “drawhandles” in bookbinding terms). I’ve also been introduced to budgets and actuals, as Chairman of three museums – No.1 Royal Crescent, William Beckford’s Tower on Lansdown and the Building of Bath Museum in the Countess of Huntington’s Chapel. They are not so very different from a shop – you have to attract visitors in order to pay for the upkeep of the roof.
I strongly believe that preservation is not about prevention or disallowing change. Listed buildings (of which there are over 6000 in Bath) require constant maintenance and periodic restoration (analogous with old books). Change of use should not be resisted as a matter of form or tradition – an aged antique shop in Milsom Street might need to be plumbed for hairdressing facilities if it is not to end up behind boards beneath a rotting roof. After all, our premises started out as the Post Office sorting office.
While the Trust will always fight to protect buildings of merit, there are some structures that deserve to be demolished. The Hilton Hotel, the site of George Bayntun’s previous shop and once a venue for bookfairs, is a disgrace. The bus station opposite our shop has been reduced to rubble, and in its place we are promised a Debenhams store. An improvement, but in a pallid form of Georgian-style-shopping-mall, delivered by the lorry load. An area by the river, known as Western Riverside, offers new housing, but tall buildings are not the answer, even if they go some way to sparing the Green Belt from sprawl.
Bath deserves the very best, and has been brave in parts – the new Spa building designed by Nicholas Grimshaw was expensive but has proved revitalising. The Holburne Museum of Art chose Eric Parry, who rejected the same-again pastiche for a controversial but defining 21st century ceramic and glass extension on the rear. Modern architecture of the highest quality, worthy of our heritage, should be encouraged. Similarly I regard certain contemporary bookbinders (especially some of the women) as equal to past masters. Bath has to move on if it is not to end up being twinned with Pompeii. And the same must surely apply to our own beloved trade.
Ed Bayntun Coward
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Congratulations on another fine Newsletter, no.346, July 2008.
Reading about the book trade and auctioneers prompts me to raise the issue of AuctionExplorerBooks.com once again. All the points of tension between the trade and auctioneers are solved in favour of the trade with our on-line auction system. We do not charge a buyer's premium at all. Seller's commission is 5% of successful sales plus a modest $1 per lot to list.
Dealers meet the buyers directly so adding new customers to their mailing lists. Instead of a fruitless 'Thinking of Selling' campaign, dealers can offer a booksellerrun auction site to prospective sellers at commission rates far lower those of the conventional auction houses and dealers can take in books to sell at auction so saving any outlay of working capital.
Our members can then write competent auction descriptions which will show up the deficencies of the auction houses. If the trade were to promote its own auction business in competition with conventional auctioneers we would put ourselves in a far stronger position in the competition for stock.
All we need to do is overcome the seemingly innate dislike of becoming auctioneers ourselves. Surely, in these changed times, it would be better to take a positive view and offer an additional service to both sellers and buyers which would allow us to promote the trade in a very positive and innovative light and to regain the advantage from the auction houses.
Clarke's Africana & Rare Books ABA
LONDON RARE BOOK SCHOOL
The London Rare Book School, supported by the ABA, and hosted by the Institute of English Studies, University of London, took place earlier this summer. Four students report on their experiences.
I. FLORINA KOSTULIAS
Modern First Editions Course
I will always remember the summer of 2008 as the summer of books. Having secured an internship with Quaritch and a place on the Modern First Editions course, I embarked on a journey of initiation and discovery into the unique world of rare books.
The London Rare Books School (LRBS) was an exciting event. Running only in its second year, it attracted considerable attention from the book world. For two weeks in July, librarians, dealers, academics in the field of book history, as well as established and aspiring collectors descended upon Senate House, Bloomsbury to embark on a series of intensive courses on a variety of bookrelated subjects. The first week was intended for a general introduction to the history of the book, while the second week offered more specialized subjects such as Modern First Editions, Bookbinding Decoration and Mapping Land and Sea before 1800, etc. Each course consisted of thirteen seminars totalling twenty hours of teaching time within a week. The academic staff included a number of internationally- renowned scholars and experts in the field of book history and highly experienced practitioners.
My own course, Modern First Editions, was taught by a panel of ABA booksellers who generously shared with us some of their vast experience gained over the years, sometimes over generations. To the best of my knowledge there are no other similar courses, so as an aspiring bookseller I found the course a unique opportunity to realise an understanding of the history and tradition of the book trade, as well as gaining practical knowledge of current trends and market conditions. While three seminars a day may seem intensive we found each subject so enlightening that we wished the course could have been longer. As a student of modern and contemporary literature I was awakened to the material side of the book and its importance in literary research.
As the week progressed, the desire to spend more time in the company of special books grew. Luckily, there were two evening receptions generously hosted by Quaritch and Maggs to satisfy that need. LRBS was received by both antiquarians very warmly and students had a chance to interact with the highly-esteemed booksellers and experience encounters with very rare books. By the end of the course I knew my affair with books was not just a summer fling, and resolved to return to LRBS next year to investigate other specialized subjects.
II. CATHERINE AKEROYD
History of Maps & Mapping
In early July this year I left my cold and wintry office in Sydney, from where I manage the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Art collection, and headed for a warm, summer London. I was undertaking the week long course on the History of Maps and Mapping at the University of London’s Rare Books School. The gruelling twenty three hour flight demonstrated my enthusiasm for the subject, as well as my desire to become more knowledgeable in the area.
Like many of the other students in my class who had struggled to find a midcareer or post-graduate programme on the History of Cartography, this course was just what we were looking for. And judging by their preparedness to also make the long flight (from America and Canada), they too had high expectations.
Our backgrounds varied from bookdealers and conservators, librarians and cataloguers, to collection managers and curators. Some of us were self-employed while others were employed by large public organisations and universities. This mix proved useful on a number of fronts; our different thoughts and perspectives on the range of subjects presented, as well as the long-term advantages of developing collegiate and networking relationships.
The course was divided into theoretical sessions and practical off-site visits. The lectures were interesting and challenging, as they pushed our perceptions and understanding of maps and map history. The up-to-date literature and reference material discussed during the lectures was available via the University’s Library which for me, proved to be very handy.
The outings to the British Museum and British Library were thoroughly enjoyable. We were fortunate enough to view Durer’s woodblocks and prints, as well as some of the Library’s most significant and treasured maps. We were taken through a printmaking workshop where we were shown the intaglio printmaking process. This helped many of us appreciate the complexity of map making. And the after hours visits to antiquarian booksellers was a great opportunity to informally talk with the dealers about their businesses, as well as meet other LRBS students from the University.
As the week drew to a close, we were pleased to exchange addresses and agreed to stay in touch. We had all been invigorated, and for me, my mind had been opened to thinking about maps differently. I had learnt a lot and was keen to get back and share it with my colleagues.
Providing this course to people with different backgrounds and experiences not only opens their minds to the fascinating world of maps, but increases the body of knowledge in this field.
III. ED NASSAU LAKE
An Introduction to Bibliography
After eight years away from academic life, I sauntererd into Room NG14 of Senate House in nervous anticipation of a weeklong course, An Introduction to Bibliography, taught by Tony Edwards. Having been a chef for the past 4 years, joining Jarndyce only in September 2007, my knowledge of the book was limited. It can be an intimidating trade starting out and I hoped that this course would add to my knowledge and ability to catalogue and understand books.
I had of course engaged in some ‘required reading’; the first line of Greetham's Textual Scholarship sending me into a state of deep bibliographical confusion. I persisted however, and was quietly surprised by the readability of the ensuing chapters.
Our class consisted of a wide spectrum of backgrounds including two booksellers, four librarians, a collector, a teacher and two academics - one a modernist and the other a mediaeval historian. Bibliography, like any academic subject, is not a study of absolute fact but of opinion, and our seminars consisted mainly of discussions, led by Tony Edwards and fuelled by our differing perspectives. Though at times we were taught and notes were taken, it was the use of examples and subsequent deliberations that helped us all grope through the heavy fog of bibliography to find our own personal clarity.
A trip to the St. Bride’s Printing Library illustrated at close quarters the physical process of creating a book, the press itself and the compositor's desk with upper and lower cases (I had, I admit, never known the origin of upper and lower case lettering). Another excursion, to the Senate House Library, was perhaps the only disappointment of the week. Although we were able to look at some brilliantly rare and fascinating examples of early manuscript and printing, only our tutor was allowed to handle them.
Having dissected and digested analytical and descriptive bibliography, the study of the physical characteristics and make up of the book, we moved to perhaps the most controversial and opinionated subject: textual scholarship and textual editing. It had never occurred to me that what I read might not be the intentional decision of the author but merely a typesetter’s mistake or the will of a publisher. Burgess' A Clockwork Orange for example was published in England with nine chapters in three parts ending with the reform of the lead character. In America, the publisher insisted on removing the sickly sweet ending and the character remained a violent, non-conformist criminal. Kubrick had never seen the unedited version before he directed the film. The questions are endless. Was the editing justified? Did it create a better book? What was the Author's ideal version?
Therein lie the benefits of attending a course such as this. With a basic understanding of bibliography in all its forms there can only be more questions. There is a desire to learn more, a desire to re-read Greetham with the knowledge that I now have. Most importantly, every time you open a book, whether as a librarian, a collector or a bookseller, there are many more questions to answer and that can only be a positive thing.
IV. NEVILLE HIGHAM
Modern First Editions
A brief item in the ibookcollector newsletter in early February caught my eye – a reference to the second London Rare Books School. I followed the weblink and discovered what was on offer. One course stood out for me – Modern First Editions. I had caught the modern first collecting bug a few years back, was largely selftaught and keen to gain a deeper insight into the world of modern first editions.
I duly applied and found myself at Senate House one Monday in July along with a small group of fellow enthusiasts – a fellow collector, two librarians, two exbankers, and an Australian book dealer based in Paris who mysteriously never appeared again after the first day. What followed was a series of 11 seminars ably led by Laurence Worms, Angus O’Neill, Julian Rota and David Chambers, and including a visit to Rick Gekoski at Pied Bull Yard together with evening receptions (a great opportunity to network with fellow enthusiasts from other courses). Topics ranged widely – edition, issue and state, through dust-jackets, rarity, scarcity and collectability to fakes and frauds (a real minefield for the unwary). A bonus was the chance to handle a range of modern firsts, manuscripts and private press editions.
So was it worthwhile, and good value in exchange for my taking a week off work? Definitely yes – a really enjoyable and informative week. It has opened my collecting horizons considerably and left me with much food for thought – private press editions, and a range of other authors to collect. Any improvements – not really, although it would have been interesting to have an auction house representative along to talk about (defend?) their approach to buying and selling. Any regrets? Perhaps dismissing the option of producing an essay for a postgraduate credit, but then there are always plenty of other LRBS courses of interest for 2009 or even the part-time MA in the History of the Book.
GUIDANCE ON VALUATIONS
Jolyon Hudson presents a discussion paper on valuations: Percentage or Agreed Fee? Probate or Insurance? The ABA Council requests your comments before formulating policy.
There are no hard and fast rules about valuation but care should be taken to ask oneself:
How much detail the client or the clients insurers require?
How much is the client prepared to pay, is the client private, or a public body? How much time does the valuer need to devote to the task?
Other factors to take on board include:
How much ‘time lost’ to your book selling business to undertake the valuation?
How well do you know the client?
Are there any compensating factors? For instance, are the books likely to come to you for sale?
Almost all charges for valuation are calculated by two systems; the percentage basis and the agreed fee, based on time.
The percentage basis
This is often calculated on a sliding scale.
For example, if the total valuation is £100,000, a valuer may decide to charge 2% on the first £20,000, 1% on £20,001 to £50,000, and ½% thereafter. This would result in total charge of £950.
On another scale, the valuer may instead opt for 1½% on the first £30,000, 1% on £30,001 to £60,000, and ½% thereafter. Again this would result in a total charge of £950.
There are endless permutations of these percentage-based calculations. This can, and has, led to inflated values and/or excessive detail in order to up a fee and may now be inappropriate. In a valuation of only a few expensive items it might well be inequitable to proceed on a percentage basis and instead a time basis with a minimum call out charge should be considered.
The agree fee basis
This is calculated on the time needed to complete a valuation and requires an hourly or daily rate to be agreed with the client. A file of documents that is being offered to an institution for sale needs to be valued as part of a willing buyer/ willing seller purchase; the documents may be only worth £3,000 but you could agree a charge for the service of £300 or indeed £30 or £0 depending on the detail needed. (The agreed fee basis is preferred in the more litigious USA as it cannot be argued that the valuer benefits from high values.)
What is the purpose of the valuation?
Insurance & Probate
It was once said that insurance should be calculated at between 150% and 200% of current market value and that Probate should be 50% of current market value. A problem arises on how to calculate this nebulous ‘current market value’.
No longer can it be argued with the Inland Revenue that Probate can be based on the possibility of the article being sold in midwinter at a country sale-room without the benefit of a printed catalogue. The high visibility and availability of ‘Like’ items through web search engines has changed the ground rules. For readily replaceable items the Probate value should be calculated at about 10% below the current market (retail) value and for Insurance 20% above current value. The rarer the item the more imprecise the valuation and no two booksellers will completely agree on the value of any group of items.
The method of estimating values on auction prices is today very imprecise. Premiums and commission charges are so variable that what a vendor receives and what a purchaser pays are often very far apart. However, the hammer price realised at auction has the benefit of being a reference point either from ABPC (American Book Prices Current) or the auction archive sites. This can be useful in a dispute, especially when comparing copies through bookseller search engines.
What to charge
I suggest the valuer calculates how much he or she thinks their time is worth, and how long it will take to carry out a valuation. A simple calculation would be to divide your turnover by 200 working days and see how much you really need to earn in order to justify to yourself an appropriate fee.
I would admit that, for private clients, the advantage in doing a valuation is mutually beneficial. A good dealer would be open to the opportunity of seeing a client’s collection. If the collection is still developing, it would be advantageous to see where it is going and also to see what the client buys from trade competitors. The client may wish to downsize and needs the valuation to weed out unwanted items (or indeed the opposite, to fill gaps).
Often the Formal Valuation is one of the documents that a lawyer may use in winding up an estate of a deceased client, or a divorce settlement. These circumstances may induce the bookseller to lower charges or indeed do it as a service for out of pocket expenses when there is a possibility of purchasing books.
Most importantly, it has to be understood by the valuer that a formal, written valuation is a statement of fact at a particular period in the time cycle of the marketplace; courts, lawyers, Inland Revenue etc. will take a valuation as such and use it in evidence.
Written documents have a life and power all of there own and it is often impossible to convince non-booksellers that values fluctuate. It is important to remember that your expertise may be questioned at some point in the future.
I. MERVYN JANNETTA
Fewer catalogues to report this term – perhaps a reflection of the arrival of the June fairs and the summer hols – but more than a few good books in amongst their varied contents.
Music specialist H. Baron sends Catalogue 176 Church Music containing 44 items in the field from the 16th – 19th centuries. Sent for the first time, specifically for review, and gratefully received, this list comprises predominantly continental imprints. Succinct descriptions are supplemented by numerous illustrations, many with musical examples. Innocent non-specialists (e.g. yours truly) may express some puzzlement at the absence of STC/Wing/ESTC references for the English books, the specialist no doubt content with BUC/RISM as appropriate. Curiosities include a 1772 Amsterdam edition of Tate & Brady, ‘set to musick by J.Z. Triemer’ (19thc half leather, rubbed, £200); and 2 Channel Islands rarities, Les Pseaumes, and La Liturgie, Jersey, 1786 and 1785 (‘well bound in 19th-century leather with raised bands and marbled endpapers’, £150); and Les Pseaumes, Guernsey, 1791 (contemporary leather, gilt, £125: ESTC records 3 copies only, all in BL).
More recently, non-member James Burmester issued Catalogue 72, English Books 1681-1900: Recent Acquisitions, containing over 170 items in the usual categories. Strengths in education and social reform may be represented by Hanway on chimney sweepers and the ‘grossest inhumanity to climbing boys’ (original marbled wrappers, £2000); a promotional pamphlet for a 17th-century ‘General Nursery, or Colledg of Infants’ (rebound in calf, £2250); and Clara Reeve’s exposition of her educational ideas in Plans of Education, 1792 (contemporary sheep, rebacked, some waterstaining, £2250). Other treats include a Jersey publication on the island’s cider production (stitched as issued, £450); and another volume from Jersey containing the BCP and the Psalms in French (1785, 86) (‘contemporary, or near-contemporary straight-grained red morocco gilt, spine gilt, gilt edges, upper cover gilt lettered longitudinally’ £550). The Baron copy of this same pairing was more modestly described (and priced).
James Fenning’s latest offering, Catalogue 241 A Miscellany, has over 350 items, amongst them some very appealing rarities of Irish interest. There’s an exceeding scarce Dublin single-sheet printing of Carteret’s speech as Lord Lieutenant to the Dublin parliament in September 1725, marking the successful conclusion of Swift’s campaign against Wood’s coinage (‘edges uncut, in very good state’, £1450). Elsewhere there’s an Irish version of a rare pamphlet describing on behalf of its Dublin maker, an instrument ‘for preventing frauds by counterfeit gold’ (original blue paper wrappers, contemporary MS amendments – by the compiler? - £1650); an uncommon novel by the Irish poet, playwright and translator Elizabeth Ryves, printed at the Logographic Press in London (original boards, uncut, minor marginal dampstaining, £5500); and a completely unrecorded poetical epistle, and sole printed text by Swift’s friend and correspondent Knightley Chetwode (folded 4to sheet uncut, slip-case, £6500).
Non-member Forest Books Catalogue 108 is back on more familiar territory: Bibliography Bookbinding & Reference, with well over four hundred items, mostly from the 19th/20th centuries. A handful of earlier imprints includes a copy of the third (1674) Bodleian library catalogue compiled by Thomas Hyde (contemporary panelled vellum, front joint cracked, upper cover slightly warped, £1445); a ‘nice unsophisticated uncut set’ of the Harleian library catalogue with contributions by S. Johnson (4 vols, contemporary quarter sheep, rubbed, cloth boxes, £2750); and the Macclesfield copy of the 1725 sale catalogue for Dr John Bridges’ library (quarter vellum, soiled, uncut, MS prices and additions, £1100).
From the wilds of Northumberland comes Alex Fotheringham’s Catalogue 71, as usual studded with material likely to appeal to customers interested, in one way or another, in that part of the world. (A helpful index includes, under ‘Northumberland & Durham’, references to 27 items out of a catalogue of 126.) Entertaining descriptions are often clearly dependent on rather more than superficial acquaintance with the books in question, and can in the case, say, of a false ‘London’ imprint speculate on likely true origins, and avenues for further enquiry (see item 46, Fenelon, ‘London, R. Dampier, etc.’, with frontispiece portrait engraved in Edinburgh, £210). The catalogue ends with a presentation copy of a Dublin printing of The Young Lady’s Pocket Library (1790), inscribed ‘the Gift of Mr John Milliken of Dublin to Miss Mary Falcon, Workington’: a reflection of the familiar Irish bookseller and printer’s perhaps less well known connections with Whitehaven, Carlisle and environs (new quarter calf, £180).
Major Iain Grahame issued the 2nd part of the alphabet of his 2008 catalogue of Fine Sporting, Natural History & Africana - again 19thc plate books predominate, but the ‘Rare and Fine’ sub-section includes a copy of the first English edition of the Francis Willoughby and John Ray Ornithology, 1678 (early panelled calf, rebacked, £2000); and the ‘Natural History’ section has a copy of Martin’s Voyage to St Kilda, 1698 (contemporary sprinkled sheep, front hinge weak, light browning, £1100).
Spike Hughes Rare Books Catalogue 184 A Miscellany contains the by now customary variety of mostly 18th/19thc British imprints, with a few earlier, later, and/or foreign books for good measure. Amongst these is a copy of the third edition of the ‘heroick’ poem King Arthur by Richard Blackmore, nowadays remembered more as one of Pope’s bywords for dull versifying (folio, contemporary calf, rubbed, joints cracking, £175). There’s also a copy of James Sharp’s Account of the Principle and Effects of the Air Stove- Grates, the invention of which is usually given to Benjamin Franklin: this unrecorded twelfth edition is complete with 4 engraved plates and docket title (one plate slightly cropped, modern quarter calf, £1500).
Catalogue 177 from Jarndyce is devoted to Jonathan Swift. Most of the books are from the library of Michael Foot, former leader of the Labour Party, prompting our editor to pen a short introduction containing veiled hints at what the world of politics was spared. Amongst the modern reprints, and secondary material (which together make up some two-thirds of the catalogue) is the dedication copy of Foot’s study of Swift The Pen & the Sword, 1957 (£100). There are few surprises and no absolute rarities among the early books, though there is a complete run of the first series of The Examiner in the original folio issues (£3500); and two tempting volumes of pamphlets – each comprising 13 tracts, and both containing copies of Swift’s Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue, 1712 (vol. A, £5200; vol. B £2600). All a bit of a tease, really, as an A5 sheet loosely inserted advises that the collection has been sold en bloc to an academic library in the United States.
Catalogue 210 from Marlborough Rare Books, Shops & Shopping offers a rich variety of over 160 items, many of which lend themselves to illustration in b&w or colour. Item 8 is a copy of James Bisset’s Poetic Survey round Birmingham … Accompanied by a Magnificent Directory,  with hand-coloured plates (later half black morocco, one plate and one leaf supplied, £1800). There is also a copy of a Milan bookseller’s catalogue of his stock of thousands of titles in various languages including English (1771, recent boards, some spotting, £385); and an extremely rare title on ‘Tayloring’ [sic], The Taylor’s Complete Guide with 3 folding plates as called for in an additional leaf dated April 10, 1805 (old calf, rebacked, uncut, minor repairs, £9500).
Howard D. Mott Catalogue 254 offers 125 items of Literature (Recently Acquired) – predominantly (and understandably) American, from the 19th – 20th centuries. These include two scarce pieces of ephemeral verse – one, an unrecorded St. Vincent-printed broadside poem on the death of celebrated botanist Alexander Anderson, and the decay of St. Vincent’s botanical garden ($7750); the other a 12-page pamphlet containing satirical verses directed at the follies and quarrels of the citizens of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, The New Year’s Gift, or Naughty Folks Reformed  ($2500). Similarly superficial and more specifically English is a ‘delightful bit of unrecorded rhyming doggerel ... occasioned by Charles James Fox spraining his Achilles tendon’,  ($2750); and no less ephemeral (or scarce), but arguably of more substance, is a 3pp leaflet listing the Rates for Learning, Boarding and Tuition,  at London’s Soho Square Academy founded by Martin Clare in the early 18thc ($950).
Among the early English items in John Robertshaw Catalogue 109 is a ‘very good clean copy’ of the first edition of the first book about Jersey, with the large folding map of the island (contemporary speckled calf, £650). There is also an extra-illustrated copy of William Gostling’s Walk in and about the City of Canterbury, 2nd edn. 1777 (19thc halfmorocco, + approximately 65 extra 17th- 19th c. plates, £225). The ‘Bibliography, etc.’ section has a disbound copy of William Huddesford’s Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum ... Antonii Wood ... in the Ashmolean, 1761 (£150).
Christopher Edwards List 40 Fine Early Books, Maggs Bros. Mercurius Britannicus no. 206, and Karen Thomson Catalogue 96 have notable strengths deriving from essentially the same source – the library of the Earls of Macclesfield formerly at Shirburn Castle. Much has been said and written about the library around the recent series of Sotheby auctions: Maggs find room to preface their list with a succinct account of the formation and history of the library, with passing reference to the way the books and pamphlets here listed were mostly acquired privately, not via Sotheby’s auctions. This selection of 58 items offers a snapshot of the library’s rich variety, whether of imprint (from the 1470s to the 18thc, including one from Tranquebar in 1721), subject (from architecture to Zionism), or price (£48 to £6000).
Christopher Edwards has a section on grammar for English and other modern languages and another on grammar for Latin and Greek, two-thirds of the latter ex-Macclesfield (and presumably deriving, in accordance with Maggs’ note, from the philological collections of Moses Williams, brought into the library with the assistance of the second earl’s tutor, William Jones). For anyone disappointed at being denied the opportunity to acquire one of the two copies in Jarndyce 147, there is, too, the Macclesfield copy of Swift’s Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue, 1712 (lacks half-title, £1250).
Naturally enough the dozen or so Macclesfield books in language specialist Karen Thomson’s most recent list also reflect the strengths of the library’s philological holdings. There is, or was, a copy of the first grammar of English by William Bullokar 1586 (sold); Humphrey Wanley’s annotated coy of George Hickes’s Institutiones grammaticae anglo-saxonicae, 1689 (contemporary panelled calf, lacks imprimatur leaf, £15000); and the very handsome large paper copy of Hickes’s Linguarum vet. septentrionalium thesaurus grammaticocriticus et archaeologicus, 1703-5 (early 18thc mottled and diced calf, £7500).
firstname.lastname@example.org Address for catalogues:
4 Cranbury Close, Downton, Salisbury, Wilts. SP5 3DL
II. BRIAN LAKE
Julian Nangle has retired from ‘Modern Firsts’ reviewing: thank you, Julian, and good luck with the new shop. If you would like to have a go at reviewing Modern First catalogues, or take over the ‘Miscellany’ round up, please get in touch. email@example.com
Blackwell Rare Books
Catalogue B158. Recent Acquisitions and others. 341 items. Mixture of antiquarian, modern first and private press. Colour & b&w illus.
P & P Books
Catalogue E51. Egyptology and The Middle East. 270 items.
Antique Maps. Summer Selection. 234 items. Full colour illus.
Catalogue 143. Summer Miscellany of Books, Pamphlets, Broadsides, Trials and Manuscripts 1670-1911. 150 items. b&w illus.
Avedikian Rare Books with Graham York Rare Books
Spain at War. ‘A unique collection of some 300 original contemporary photographs of the Spanish Civil War. For sale as a collection.’
Piccadilly Notes 54. Including Prints and a large section of books on Photography. 356 items. Children’s and Illustrated Books. 238 items. Modern First Editions. 250 items. All three catalogues are A4, full colour illus.
Samuel Gedge Rare Books
Catalogue III. Early Books. 101 items. b&w illus.
Catalogue 43. Rare English Editions from the 17th & 18thC; Mss. etc. by Berlioz, Brahms, Liszt ... First Editions of Beethoven, Handel, Haydn ... 117 items. b&w illus.
Address for catalogues:
46 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3PA
MAY COUNCIL MINUTES
Minutes of the Meeting of Council held on Wednesday 9th July 2008, at 2.00pm in the Cabinet Room of the Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall, London SW1
Present: Alan Shelley (President), in the Chair. Ian Smith (Vice President), Jonathan Potter (Honorary Treasurer), Robert Frew (Immediate Past President), Tim Bryars, Christopher Edwards, Michael Graves-Johnston, Jolyon Hudson, Brian Lake, Angus O’Neill, Julian Rota, Michael Silverman, Roger Treglown, Nigel Williams, Laurence Worms.
Secretary: John Critchley.
Past Presidents attending: Raymond Kilgarriff, Peter Miller, Paul Minet, Adrian Harrington.
Apologies: Kenneth Fuller.
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 21st MAY 2008
There were no comments and the minutes were accepted as a fair and accurate account of the proceedings and were signed by the President.
MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES
It was agreed that, in future, papers for the meeting would be sent by post to any Members of Council who requested that service.
The President referred to Michael Silverman’s e-mail about the language used in Council, which had provoked a considerable correspondence. Some Members of Council had agreed and some had been amused, and he asked for Mr Silverman’s comments to be noted.
REPORT AND CORRESPONDENCE OF THE PRESIDENT
The President reported that he had attended the annual cricket match against the PBFA. It had been an enjoyable and closely fought game, narrowly won by the PBFA. It had also been remarkable in that the ABA had fielded the first ever lady player.
The President had also attended the Olympia post-mortem meeting two days before council met. It had been a long, hard-working and effective meeting covering a large range of topics.
The Treasurer noted that Victor Coles would be carrying out his half yearly audit of the ABA accounts on Wednesday 24th July. He went on to say that he had reviewed the salary rates of the three permanent members of staff, and had discussed this with the other Officers. Their recommendation was that a 5% increase should be awarded with effect from 1st July 2008. This was agreed by Council.
Peter Miller, who had attended the meeting to present the findings of the Benevolent Fund Trustees’ recent review of their responsibilities, summarised the paper giving their conclusions. The Trustees considered that the main function of the fund was benevolent, that they should not generally spend capital, that 25% of the income of the fund should go to education (£4,500 for 2008: £3,500 had already been spent and perhaps a further £500 would be needed to support the Book Trade History Conference) and that Council should decide how the amount should be apportioned. He went on to say that the educational objective in the Declaration of Trust was quite limiting:
“To promote education and research in the field of Antiquarian Bookselling by providing grants to students undertaking courses in Antiquarian Bookselling and to educational institutions conducting such courses.”
Discussion in Council focused on the importance of education and its role in securing the future, forecasts of the demand for financial help with medical expenses and nursing home fees, and the possibility of levies on the membership for specific purposes. The President closed the discussion by saying that he would take up a proposal from Council and consider setting up a small working group to look at ways that funds for education might be raised and dispersed, and to report back to Council.
Jonathan Potter then reported that the Trustees had met the HSBC Investment Manager and that the current market performance indicated that investment income, and thus available funds for education, would be lower in 2008. The Trustees had concluded that they should keep the current balance of investments, but carry out periodic reviews.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARY
Attendance of Additional Nominees at General Meetings
The Secretary, who had been asked at the May meeting to investigate the right of Additional Nominees to attend General Meetings, stated that he believed that Additional Nominees were entitled to attend without special invitation. Council noted this. He went on to say that he felt that the Rules did not seem to allow Additional Nominees to cast the Full Member’s vote in the absence of the Principal Nominee. Laurence Worms pointed out that this situation was covered by the provisions for Proxy Votes laid out in Rule 6b. This was accepted by Council.
Oxfam – buying in books for resale
The Newsletter Editor was asked to publish the Secretary’s letter to Oxfam and their reply in the Newsletter, and to invite comment from the membership. Council would consider the matter again once the views of the membership were known.
Deaccessioning of books from institutional libraries - A report would be made at the September meeting.
Advice to members on the valuation of books
Jolyon Hudson introduced his paper on the topic, saying that his preference was for valuations to be carried out on a fixed fee basis. It was generally agreed that the proposals in the paper were excellent and Mr Hudson was congratulated for “grasping the nettle”. Mr Hudson was asked to liaise with Brian Lake on amending the paper to make it suitable for publication as advice to the membership in the Newsletter, and then to bring it back to Council.
Rylands Bindings Database
Peter Miller reported on behalf of the Benevolent Fund Trustees that they regretted that the current terms of the Declaration of Trust did not allow a donation to be made from the Fund. It was suggested that the Working Group to be set up by the President might look at other, similar, charities, and investigate whether they had wider conditions for educational support which might be introduced for the ABA’s fund.
Thinking of Buying, Thinking of Selling
Julian Rota reported that the “Thinking of Buying? Thinking of Selling?” leaflet had been produced in time for distribution at the Olympia Book Fair. It was generally agreed that it was a very good flyer, although the quality of the reproduction of the logo attracted some criticism.
Friends of the ABA
Paul Minet reported that he and the Secretary were to get together later in the month to discuss the way ahead. He felt that it would be necessary for him to write a personal letter to every member in order to ensure a good response.
Books and Investment
Julian Rota introduced the topic, saying that he felt it was unsuitable for cover in a written paper. He went on to say that investment in books demonstrated faith in the product, and that it had been reported at the Advisory Council on the Export of Works of Art that returns from the Art Market during the past year had been 47%, whereas the Stock Market had yielded 8%. He also felt that there was a need to turn minds towards investment as a way of encouraging sales. It was agreed that the matter should be discussed further at the September meeting, and Adrian Harrington encouraged the Members of Council to look at an article on investment on the Librairie Sourget website. Other websites recommended for their articles on investment were Jonkers Rare Books on Ian Fleming, the William Reese Company on the Streeter Sale, and John Windle.
Legal syndicates Buying at Auction
Discussion of this topic was deferred to the September meeting.
The Secretary reported that a list containing ABA members only had been uploaded to the “Members Page” on the ABA website. Access to the ILAB database of members could also be gained from the page.
The Membership Secretary noted that he and the Secretary were to meet again to consider the nam