Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Legitimate Contender for World's Most Expensive Rare Book" (Not)

“Legitimate Contender For World’s Most Expensive Book” ?
(Twelfth edition)

“Hiya kids, hiya, hiya, hiya!”

Froggy, the croaking - and long-croaked - gremlin, has risen from the graveyard of 50s television to pluck his magic twanger once more and bedevil a hapless victim. This time, a deluded "rare book dealer" is his prey.

Who’s the poor sap? Why it’s Milliondollarauctions123, aka Ebay’s most egregious example of sub-amateur rare bookseller, who declares, after stating his headline above:

“Far more important than $30.8 million Codex Leicester.”

A page from daVinci's Codex Leicester

The book in question? Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Seapower Upon History 1660-1783. What’s the asking price?

$21,000,000. No joke, folks. Oh, and that’s just the reserve. Good thing there's no buyer's premium. Time for Ebay to change its name to Oybay.

Milliondollardunce weaves one of the most astounding tales of rare book baloney we’ve seen in quite some time. A lot of helium was used to pump up this book.

“The sale of this book for over $30.8 million would deservedly break the record price paid by Bill Gates for the Codex Leicester. This book is far more historically significant than the Codex and is worthy of the the new price record. Historically, The Influence of Seapower Upon History was the successor to the Declaration of Independence and the Monroe Doctrine in the saga of human liberty. If no higher provenanced copy of this book exists, the offered volume is actually priceless.

“If America had not risen to the challenge of competing ideologies at the dawning of the 20th century, freedom as we know it today probably would not exist. Rising totalitarian empires almost certainly would have toppled an America that had chosen, instead, to be an isolated fortress nation. Through a century in which over 250,000,000 people were killed by their own totalitarian governments, The Influence of Seapower Upon History was the philosophical and strategic text that preserved life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“In the 1940's, Mahan's prescient advocacy of a larger navy would narrowly avert global tyranny. The survival of liberty and democracy to this present day is attributable, in part, to the book now offered. Unless a more historic copy of this book exists, the offered volume ranks among the top documentary treasures in humanity's passage to universal human rights, suffrage, and liberty.

“Internet search results of this book generally devolve into pejorative statements about American ‘imperialism,’ while avoiding the context of the genocidal 20th century. The following keyword searches restore that key context in humanity's long dark passage to democratic peace: (Seller is not associated with any website.) R.J. Rummel, democide, photographs democide, Unit 731, 1848 Communist Manifesto, AHA Bemis address, 1919 War Plan Orange, 1919 political parties established, 1921 Washington Naval Conference, Russian Revolution 1917, totalitarianism, personality cult, political economy”

Are you sold? Wait.

There are presently four-hundred and seventy-two - 472! - copies of this “rare book” noted by OCLC in institutions worldwide, a fact unreported by Milliondollardufus.

Here’s an oh, by-the-way that Milliondollardingbat neglects to include in his 21-gun cannonade catalog salute: the basic and essential bibliographical fact, Boston: Little, Brown, 1918.

But this copy, according to Milliondollardunderhead, has magnificently marvelous, mama mia! provenance: “War Department Library, Library Office Chief of Staff, Pentagon Library, Army Library, Department of Defense Library.” It is suggested that it might, just might have been touched by Gen. George C. Marshall.

The Influence of Seapower Upon History 1660-1783 was, indeed, an important and influential book but this copy could have been signed and licked by every four-star general and rear admiral 1918-1945 and it still wouldn’t be worth more than $20,000 at auction - on a good day full of sunshine and fairie dust when everyone has lost their mind, know it but don't care. It's an ex-library copy, jeez, a pariah to collectors, particularly as it is an ex-library copy of a later edition - the twelfth - not the first edition of 1890.

OCLC/WorldCat notes 352 copies of the first edition in institutional collections worldwide.

A copy of the first edition recently sold at auction for £150 ($252).

The OCLC info you have to pay for to access. The auction price is available to all on the Net.

That anyone of sano mentis could declare this book to be of greater import than the Codex - the collection of manuscript leaves on scientific subjects written by Leonardo da Vinci - calls into question current standards of mental competence.

Milliondollarauction123 qualifies for his own personal entry in the DSM-IV; the man’s just plain kwazy!

But, when you’ve been plucked by Froggy’s magic twanger, anything is possible. You are compelled to behave like a fool.

So, don’t delay. This Ebay auction closes on November 19th. Current bids: None.


The ABAA chat-board has wound up the chatter-teeth toy on this story. The consensus is that, should milliondollarauctions123 ever decide to join the American Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, his initial membership fee should be set at $21,000,000.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email