Thursday, November 28, 2013

Después de la Muerte by Léon Denis or, A Super Brief Introduction to the Opportunity Cost of Rare Book Collecting

So I hear someone paid 14.165 million bucks (that is not a typo) for the Bay Psalm Book of 1640, the first book printed in North America-- in English, let's be sure to add, because the first book printed in North America was printed in Mexico City, almost 100 years earlier, in 1539. It was Breve y mas compendiosa doctrina Christiana en lengua Mexicana y Castellana by Padre Juan de Zumárraga and the printer was Giovanni Paoli, known as Juan Pablos in Mexico. Well, take that and put it on your taco!

My own latest rare book acquisition, of a Mexican book of 1906 from a used / antiquarian bookshop in Mexico City, was a far more modest purchase-- but important in its way. This three minute video that shows some pages from the book is in Spanish-- but if your Spanish is rusty, no worries, you'll get the idea if you know that Francisco I. Madero was the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution and President of Mexico 1911-1913.

How much did I shell out for it? Well, let me put it this way: instead, I could have purchased:

1/2 of one Luchese cowboy boot
Maybe one could hold the 1/2 boot
onto one's calf with an
extra large rubber band? 


1 pair hot pink (pourquoi pas?) Doc Martens

Alas, I lack the coordinating wardrobe.


25 pounds of roasted unsalted peanuts.

Rare books pricing is a rather mysterious endeavor. Bring your pendulum.