Pen Ultimate Rare Books

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair, 2016

The New York Antiquarian Book Fair, 2016
Posted on April 22nd, 2016

Ground-breaking botany, the complete works of 19C English and American men and women of letters (one volume twice-signed by Twain/S Clemens), a volume of poetry from Pope’s library signed “A Pope,” golf from the days of plus fours and stiff cocktails, racy early fashion photography, classic fantasy fiction, a touch of Dracula, pinches of Kant, and a gorgeous fourth folio Shakespeare thrown in, an iconic novel about mental illness, and some strikingly detailed 16C maps of Paris—all shined at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair in April this year.

Dare I omit the rarest, most highly collectible books, manuscripts and photographs of Ayn Rand ever presented in New York City, The Fountainhead?

Pen Ultimate Rare Books are exhibited in Booth C9, center aisle, third booth left. Unmistakably planted on my booth’s east wall, center stage, stood a $16,000 photograph of proud Ayn Rand holding a copy of her then-new novel, The Fountainhead, inscribed with “love” to the man she called the “boy on the bicycle.” Fox News’ most astute judge pointed to the photo with assurance and respect. “There she is!” said his focused companion. How thrilling to meet the judge on my first day of exhibiting!

A fourth folio of Shakespeare (1685), in utterly collectible condition at $180,000, dominated the booth just west of mine. In another aisle, “A Pope” expressed his ownership of a volume of poetry by I don’t recall, but his signature fetched $4500. Around the corner, a daunting, haunting, cunning, stunning $850,000 first printing of the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) by Immanuel Kant, “the most evil man in mankind’s history” (Ayn Rand).

The first printings of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged were almost ubiquitous, ranging from $2250 (unsigned in very good condition) to $30,000 (inscribed in 1957, the year of publication). Two unsigned copies of The Fountainhead, first printing, in the exceedingly rare first issue dust jacket (1943) each cost $75,000.

Only one exhibitor brought a first edition inscribed Anthem (1938), nestled in its rare, gloriously complete first state Cassell jacket, but almost no one witnessed it. Signed “Affectionately, Ayn" and dated in the year of publication, this copy was scooped up before the public even gained admittance!

Another exhibitor brought the most beautiful copy of We the Living I’ve seen in forty years—and I don’t yet admit to that age! It is nearly new. The binding is still tight; the hinges are strong and there is no foxing! The dust jacket is undoubtedly the finest, the brightest on the planet—no chips, no tears, not even a creese—and utterly unrestored. This is the ultimate We the Living, as it originally appeared, as originally written by the pen ultimate, blindingly close to the 1936 original condition.

That unsigned, untouched, unread, unopened copy of We the Living, like the Anthem above, is now in the hands of its rightful owner.

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