RBSM - artist

The Rare Book Sale Monitor has given collectors new ways to structure their search for new additions to their collections using market trend indicators. Our view is that genre and author strategies can complement one another, and, that additional breakdowns can improve visibility and help structure collections to produce the desired results. In the case of the genre of Arts, for example, there is a great deal of variability across the composition of the genre. It is important for collectors of art books to have an additional index tracking the artists’ performance.

Genre and author indexes attempt to track the performance of a particular group of related rare books. Knowing the index on which a collector strategy is based, can give a better sense of which books will be tracked over a period. One simple way to illustrate this, is to imagine two equal-weight strategies; one tracking the genre of Arts, and another tracking the author J.R.R. Tolkien. Both strategies offer narrow exposure to a set of books. However, where the former strategy might focus on books from various artists, (with each book having a 2% weighting), the latter, might try to include a single author’s entire offering, (with each book having a 10% weighting). As you might expect, such differences in weighting – which apply no matter what type of groupings are considered – can affect the performance recorded.

Smart indexing, generally employs a rules-driven approach, wherein the weighting methodology determines what books are included and in what proportion. One outcome of this approach is that some authors might be more exposed to certain genres than others. The J.R.R. Tolkien index for example, can result in a relatively large exposure to the Modern First Editions genre index. Again, this should not be taken to mean a particular author is relying on a certain genre. Rather, if an author index gives less actively traded books a higher weighting, then the index might end up with larger weightings for particular titles. And, the index allocations can change, so that if trading picked up in one particular title, its weighting in a low-trading index would likely shrink.

The bottom line for us is to make sure we understand the index dynamics; thus, we can avoid any unintended concentrations in particular titles of the rare book market. We are hopeful that the addition of the Rare Book Sale Monitor – artist breakdown, will improve trend analysis for the Art genre and lessen the effect of out-of-balance concentrations.

Our new Artist breakdown focuses on a number of fairly often traded books which you may find described as:

A wonderful combination of image and text, the illustrations exquisitely executed; finely executed pencil drawings to illustrate an as yet unidentified edition; a scarce edition of the author’s work, with a woodcut for each section; a series of engravings with descriptive text, illustrative of the life of the protagonist; a presentation with each plate printed on a different colored paper produced in a way that makes for a beautiful-looking book; a hieroglyphic epistle from the artist colored by hand; depictions of scenes chromolithographed throughout; copper engraved coats-of-arms; the silhouettes each facing a page of text depicting romantic illustrations; a contemporary lithograph led to speculation as to the motivation of the artist….”


RBSM Genre

Genre Breakdown

RBSM Author Breakdown

Author Breakdown

RBSM Artist Breakdown

Artist Breakdown


HerlandCharlotte Perkins Gilman, (also known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson), was born in New England, in 1860; a descendant of the prominent and influential Beecher family. Her mother, Mary Fitch Westcott, had married a second cousin, the well-known librarian and bibliophile, Frederic Beecher Perkins, grandson of Lyman Beecher, nephew of Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. With sporadic formal schooling consisting of a total of four years between the ages of 7 and 15, two years at the Rhode Island School of Design and a course with the Society for the Encouragement of Studies at Home, Gilman had little formal education by today’s standards. She did, however, have a talent for speaking–and especially preaching–with an ease and power that was often attributed to her Beecher heritage.

Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story, The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), which she wrote after a severe bout of post-partum depression in the months following the birth of her daughter. The story is about a woman who suffers from mental illness after three months of being closeted in a room by her husband for the sake of her health, who becomes obsessed with the room’s revolting yellow wallpaper. The narrator in the story, perhaps her husband, or perhaps her doctor, who had tried to cure her of her depression through a “rest cure”, did not address the true need — mental stimulation and the freedom to escape the monotony of the room to which she is confined. Masterfully, Gilman combined socialism and feminism to provide a coherent theory of women’s oppression. First published in January 1892, in The New England Magazine, the magazine series that includes The Yellow Wallpaper , usually trades for a few thousand dollars, while the rest of the series can be bought for less than $50.

The Yellow WallpaperWomen and Economics

A few years later, based on lectures she gave and dependent on her own income, she wrote the book Women and Economics. Published in 1898, it was a foundational text of early feminism, and made her famous almost overnight. The work’s argument that women needed economic independence — and not just the ballot — to be truly free and equal, and that society as a whole would be better for their full participation, resonated clearly to women’s social needs of the time. With its publication, and its subsequent translation into seven languages, Gilman earned international acclaim. During this period, Charlotte had a long affair with Adeline Knapp, an author, journalist, and suffragette associated with the San Francisco Bay area. After their affair fizzled out, Charlotte married her cousin and second husband George Houghton Gilman, “a man supportive of her career goals and willing to accept them.” The Small, Maynard & Company, 1898 first edition, of Women and Ecomomics, trades presently for a few hundred dollars.

Gilman’s works of fiction represented the psychological impact of traditional female roles as housewives and mothers. She approved of birth control as a means to greater freedom for women and to improvement of the race, but disapproved of it as promoting sex for pleasure rather than procreation.  Her utopian novel, Herland (1915), in which three swaggering male explorers discover a lost civilization populated entirely by women who use parthenogenesis to reproduce, formed some of the first imaginings of science fiction. The book inspired Dr. William Moulton Marsten to create his character, Wonder Woman, as a model of “strong, free, courageous womanhood.” Herland first appeared in The Forerunner, a monthly magazine produced by Gilman herself.  Volume 6 of the magazine which was published in 1915, with Herland serialized in twelve parts, trades for a few thousand dollars.

The Forerunner - HerlandArt Gems for the Home and Fireside

Long unknown to Gilman scholars, Art Gems for the Home and Fireside written by Mrs. Charles Walter Stetson [Charlotte Perkins Gilman], is now recognized as the pioneering feminist’s first book. The roughly 100 page, illustrated volume covers forty-nine artists, each work accompanied by commentary written by Gilman. At a glance, the volume appears little more than a Victorian American parlor book, with little relation to Gilman’s later feminist, socialist and utopian ideologies. But, careful examination reveals that, whether she wrote about race, suffrage, or art, Gilman was a sensitive social critic. Her commentary on the images in Art Gems is frequently sarcastic, occasionally biting, especially in regard to the representation of women in the artworks that she included. The first edition published in 1988, Providence, RI: J.A. & R.A. Reid trades for a few thousand dollars.



Highsmith, Hitchcock and Homosexuality

August 28, 2017
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There is no doubt that 20th-century genre novels which inspire unforgettable film productions, are on collectors’ target lists. And there is no better group of novelists that continue to inspire an endless procession of films than the ones that include Stephen King, J.G. Ballard, Phillip K. Dick, Elmore Leonard, and of course, the ringer of […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 2nd Quarter, 2017

August 11, 2017
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Factsheet: Rare Books as an alternative investment: Tangible assets, such as Rare Books, are by nature, illiquid. Collectible books of interest have shown value appreciation over the years. Many more collectible books of less interest have not appreciated or have declined in value. Supply outstrips demand for all but the rarest books. Tangible alternative investments […]

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The High Price of Baskett’s Mistake

June 8, 2017
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In 1709, John Baskett, purchased the exclusive, royal patent to print Bibles in England. His edition of the Bible is also his most important work and is described by Darlow/Moule as: “A magnificent edition, printed in large type. With many plates at the beginning and end of books, engraved on steel from the designs of […]

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I am a pre-1950 Pocket Book with Leo Manso cover art, paperback collector

May 17, 2017
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  During a recent visit to Provincetown MA, I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Julie Heller Gallery.  Provincetown’s rich heritage as an art colony was quite unexplored by me, up until I took this walk through the gallery’s walls filled end to end with striking treasures of artists who helped develop […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 1st Quarter, 2017

April 24, 2017
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Rare book sales in the first quarter of every year are usually kept in balance by a slow auction season start on one hand, with two major book fairs on the other. The California International Antiquarian Book Fair, which takes place in February, is the world’s largest, both in terms of attendance and dealer participation.  […]

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Interview with Laurent Ferri

March 21, 2017
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We recently had the opportunity to speak with Laurent Ferri, Curator of the pre-1800 Collections Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, at Cornell University. RBD: Within the scope of your definition of a book [“a closed/bound container of ideas and symbols which reflects and supports the intentions and worldview of its “author(s)”], what are some […]

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The First Dystopian Novel

February 27, 2017
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Before Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”, George Orwell’s “Ninteen Eighty-Four” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, there was Yevgeni Zamyatin’s “We”, the first dystopian novel ever written. The book is a satire on life in a collectivist futuristic state, “One State”, located in the middle of a wild jungle.  It is surrounded by a wall […]

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Rare Book Sale Monitor update – 4th Quarter, 2016

January 27, 2017
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  Last quarter’s coverage of the big rare book auctions, focused almost entirely on the new price record set by a first edition of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, which has become the most expensive printed scientific book ever sold at auction after a winning bid of $3.7m (£3m), nearly two and a half times […]

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