Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mouse House in Book Festival

Happy New Year to all. I am proud to report that I am participating in the South Carolina Book festival to be held at the Carolina Convention Center on February 27-28, 2010. Click here for a link that covers all the events that will be occurring that weekend. One of the new ventures to this show is the inclusion of artists for the event, and Susan is one of the participating artists. We did the show two years ago and brought only antiquarian prints and her altered books. For the upcoming show I plan to bring more antiquarian prints, but more importantly, I am going to showcase some of my plate books that I have collected over the years. I am also planning to bring really cool art books and whatever else I can find around the Mouse House for sale. I will provide more details later.

As an antiquarian print dealer I am often frowned upon by other booksellers because I sell prints that have originally have been extracted from old books. I would be lying (along with almost every other antiquarian bookseller) if I said that I have not gutted an old book for its art plates. The sad truth about plate books is that generally you can make more money selling the plates as framed art for home decor than selling the book itself. A notable exception are pre-20TH century atlases which command premium money if all the maps are still intact in the book. Book rebinding is expensive and has to figure in the equation when trying to decide to save or gut a book for the plates. I can, however, honestly say that a vast majority of my antiquarian prints have been purchased at auctions in print lots where someone else has already raped and pillaged the books.

Another sad truth about plate books is the simple fact that old copper and steel engravings, both colored and uncolored, are often wonderful examples of art that remain unseen in a closed book. I have a twenty-three volume collection of The Art Journal, published between 1849-1880 with fabulous steel engravings of the art of the era. I have no need to "break" these books for the plates because I already have a nice collection of similar plates for sale; however I know that if I sell them to someone else, this person can acquire a really nice print collection for decoration and framing. At one of the last book shows I did years ago in Durham, NC, I sold a nice Ca 1880 art book with uncolored steel engravings to a book dealer who told me, upfront, that he was going to send it to his hand-colorist for breaking and coloring. Such is the business of selling old art books with wonderful plates. I am actually excited about bringing these books to show and sell since they generally sit in my closet unseen by anyone but me. If I sell any and they are gutted, so be it. I hope the people that end up with the art in these books enjoy the images as much as I have.


Wanda said...

Hi Steve! Sometimes it has to happen. Some people wouldn't be able to afford the whole book but a plate can bring them much enjoyment. I know you have scruples and I know that you know what you are doing. Good luck at the book festival! Will be waiting to hear how it goes!

Linda of the Lake said...

Thanks for the well thought out discussion, Steve. I hope lots of people read it.