UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 07/22/17 - Les Beyer...   07/22/17 - Horst Auctioneers...   07/22/17 - Dotta Auction Company, inc....   07/22/17 - Enterline Auction Service...   07/22/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/22/17 - Leaman Auctions Ltd....   07/22/17 - Cabin Fever Auctions...   07/22/17 - Morphy Auctions...   07/22/17 - Probst Family Auctions...   07/22/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/21-22/17 - Larry Swartz...   07/22/17 - Crocker Farm...   07/22/17 - Michael P. & David Weaver...   07/22/17 - Kimberly Hemingway...   07/22/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   07/22/17 - Hess Conestoga Gallery...   07/23/17 - Morphy Auctions...   07/23/17 - American Antique Auctions...   07/23/17 - All Points Auction Company...   07/23/17 - Costea's Auction Gallery...   07/24/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/25/17 - Tom Hall Auctions, Inc....   07/26/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/26/17 - J. Pandur Auction Services, Inc....   07/26/17 - Embassy Auctions International...   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/27/17 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/28/17 - Tim Weaver Auction Service...   07/29/17 - John Carl Auction Company...   07/29/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/29/17 - Milestone Auctions Gallery...   07/29/17 - JR's Auctioneering...   07/29/17 - Keystone Auctions LLC...   07/30/17 - All Points Auction Company...   07/28-30/17 - Brumbach's Auctioneering Service...   07/30/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/31/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   08/01/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   08/02/17 - Fry's Auction, Inc....   08/02/17 - Wilson's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/03/17 - John Coker, Ltd....   08/04/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/04-05/17 - Brumbach's Auctioneering Service...   08/05/17 - Blums...   08/07/17 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   07/28-08/8/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/10/17 - Barry S. Slosberg, Inc....   08/12/17 - Witman Auctioneers, Inc....   08/12/17 - Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers...   
  • 07/22/17 - Les Beyer...   07/22/17 - Horst Auctioneers...   07/22/17 - Dotta Auction Company, inc....   07/22/17 - Enterline Auction Service...   07/22/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/22/17 - Leaman Auctions Ltd....   07/22/17 - Cabin Fever Auctions...   07/22/17 - Morphy Auctions...   07/22/17 - Probst Family Auctions...   07/22/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/21-22/17 - Larry Swartz...   07/22/17 - Crocker Farm...   07/22/17 - Michael P. & David Weaver...   07/22/17 - Kimberly Hemingway...   07/22/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   07/22/17 - Hess Conestoga Gallery...   07/23/17 - Morphy Auctions...   07/23/17 - American Antique Auctions...   07/23/17 - All Points Auction Company...   07/23/17 - Costea's Auction Gallery...   07/24/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/25/17 - Tom Hall Auctions, Inc....   07/26/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/26/17 - J. Pandur Auction Services, Inc....   07/26/17 - Embassy Auctions International...   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/27/17 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/28/17 - Tim Weaver Auction Service...   07/29/17 - John Carl Auction Company...   07/29/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/29/17 - Milestone Auctions Gallery...   07/29/17 - JR's Auctioneering...   07/29/17 - Keystone Auctions LLC...   07/30/17 - All Points Auction Company...   07/28-30/17 - Brumbach's Auctioneering Service...   07/30/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/31/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   08/01/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   08/02/17 - Fry's Auction, Inc....   08/02/17 - Wilson's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/03/17 - John Coker, Ltd....   08/04/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/04-05/17 - Brumbach's Auctioneering Service...   08/05/17 - Blums...   08/07/17 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   07/28-08/8/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/10/17 - Barry S. Slosberg, Inc....   08/12/17 - Witman Auctioneers, Inc....   08/12/17 - Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers...   
  • 07/22/17 - Les Beyer...   07/22/17 - Horst Auctioneers...   07/22/17 - Dotta Auction Company, inc....   07/22/17 - Enterline Auction Service...   07/22/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/22/17 - Leaman Auctions Ltd....   07/22/17 - Cabin Fever Auctions...   07/22/17 - Morphy Auctions...   07/22/17 - Probst Family Auctions...   07/22/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/21-22/17 - Larry Swartz...   07/22/17 - Crocker Farm...   07/22/17 - Michael P. & David Weaver...   07/22/17 - Kimberly Hemingway...   07/22/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   07/22/17 - Hess Conestoga Gallery...   07/23/17 - Morphy Auctions...   07/23/17 - American Antique Auctions...   07/23/17 - All Points Auction Company...   07/23/17 - Costea's Auction Gallery...   07/24/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/25/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/25/17 - Tom Hall Auctions, Inc....   07/26/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/26/17 - J. Pandur Auction Services, Inc....   07/26/17 - Embassy Auctions International...   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/27/17 - Hartzell's Auction Gallery, Inc....   07/27/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   07/28/17 - Tim Weaver Auction Service...   07/29/17 - John Carl Auction Company...   07/29/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/29/17 - Milestone Auctions Gallery...   07/29/17 - JR's Auctioneering...   07/29/17 - Keystone Auctions LLC...   07/30/17 - All Points Auction Company...   07/28-30/17 - Brumbach's Auctioneering Service...   07/30/17 - Cordier Auctions & Appraisals...   07/31/17 - Toomey Auction Service, Inc....   08/01/17 - Alderfers Auctions & Appraisers...   08/02/17 - Fry's Auction, Inc....   08/02/17 - Wilson's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/03/17 - John Coker, Ltd....   08/04/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/04-05/17 - Brumbach's Auctioneering Service...   08/05/17 - Blums...   08/07/17 - Robert H. Clinton & Company, Inc....   07/28-08/8/17 - Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers...   08/10/17 - Barry S. Slosberg, Inc....   08/12/17 - Witman Auctioneers, Inc....   08/12/17 - Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers...   
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Collecting The Written Word: A Look Inside Rare Book Collecting
Collecting The Written Word: A Look Inside Rare Book Collecting

June 30, 2017

Collecting The Written Word: A Look Inside Rare Book Collecting

By Shawn Surmick

Printer

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” I first heard those chilling, but elegant words muttered at the age of 17 in Mrs. Stahl’s English Literature class. It didn’t take long for the book in which those words were made famous, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” to quickly become one of my favorite novels. To this day, that book has defined an important part of my life. As a result of my ability to relate with the work in question, I set out to purchase a first edition of “The Great Gatsby” fresh out of high school. The quest opened my eyes to one of the most exciting markets in the trade.
The year was 1995, and the internet was just gaining ground. AuctionWeb, which would become known as eBay later that same year, just launched, while a little known upstart called Amazon that sold books and related media was planning a well-calculated premier. The antiques and collectibles marketplace at this point in time was not yet synonymous with e-commerce. Outside of the launch of eBay, few well-known auction sites existed, as most still did business via mail order catalog, phone bidding, and in person. Over the next five years, the internet would redefine auctioneering by way of online bidding and selling.
Still, by 1997 I wasn’t able to track down a first edition copy of “The Great Gatsby” in the condition I wanted. In fact, my quest wouldn’t be complete until after the new millennium when an associate in the trade remembered I wanted a copy and was able to source one through a well publicized auction. The price I paid for that book at the time was less than 20 percent the going rate for what a similar conditioned copy would sell for today.
Book collecting is a lesser known field of the greater antiques and collectibles trade. Most collectors of classic books are established professionals who value the published word and seek out books that have a lot of personal meaning. The reason my fine condition copy of “The Great Gatsby” rose in value was due to society’s fascination with the story and its universal theme. Gatsby was a flawed romantic obsessed with an idealized fantasy. Thanks in part to the blockbuster movie released in 2013, demand for first editions of the book rose exponentially. Today, a first edition copy of “The Great Gatsby” in fine condition (the book connoisseur’s definition of near mint) can easily sell for five figures or more depending on the auction venue it is sold in.
Book collecting is a category in the antiques and collectibles trade that tends to experience cycles of increasing demand along with cycles of depressed interest. The most highly prized books are first editions of historic or significant interest. These can include classic American literature like “The Great Gatsby” or “Ethan Frome,” scarce medieval masterpieces like rare editions of Dante’s “Inferno,” and even hard-to-find books published at the birth of our great nation. If the book in question is a first or scarce edition and has significant relevance, it is sure to be in demand.
Ironically, one of the biggest contributing factors to the current rise in popularity of book collecting is the reality television series “Pawn Stars.” One of the most popular onscreen experts shown frequently on the show is the highly educated and personable book enthusiast Rebecca Romney. She is the manager at a high-end antique book store, Bauman’s Rare Books, which has several locations situated throughout the United States, including, most notably, Las Vegas, Nev., where “Pawn Stars” takes place. Bauman’s Rare Books caters to distinguished collectors of the published word and has both an online storefront as well as several physical locations.
Another reason vintage book collecting has gained such a large and growing following over the years is the rise of online auctioneers that cater to a growing list of clients. Heritage Auction Galleries is one of the most prominent auctioneers catering to rare books in collector-quality condition. Their Signature Auctions devoted to the written word attract bidders from around the world as well as museums.
No mention of rare book collecting would be complete without at least commenting on the financial aspect of the growing trend. While not every scarce or first-edition book will appreciate, if chosen correctly, rare books can be a fantastic investment. This is especially true of even more modern published books from the likes of first edition novels written by horror master Stephen King and even first edition copies of the now highly coveted “Harry Potter” series of books. Some of these books can even reach and exceed four figures at auction, with scarce copies approaching five figures. Books that are able to transcend modern pop culture appreciate the most, but be forewarned, attempting to speculate on which books will be tomorrow’s coveted classic is next to impossible. When the first books featuring Harry Potter appeared on store shelves in the late 1990s, few could have guessed just how successful they would become. As a result, coveted first editions from the very first books in the series were not printed in high quantities. Today, copies in collector quality condition can bring massive amounts when placed in high profile auctions.
Rare book collecting is an often overlooked subset of the antiques and collectibles trade. Luckily, the tide as well as collector’s tastes are slowly changing. This is causing a boom in the rare book market that is resonating with younger collectors as well as old. Patient collectors may reap the rewards of a secondary market showing signs of life. Just don’t expect my coveted first edition copy of “The Great Gatsby” to hit the market anytime soon.