Bauman Rare Books is one of the premier rare book dealers in the U.S. I’ve always thought of them as the the dealer of choice for wealthy, lazy collectors. Granted, Bauman’s stock is top-shelf, but the prices they charge are so far above the market median that I can only think their clientele is people for whom money is no object. A little homework would turn up a comparable copy at a more reasonable price. But sometimes, they get a truly one-of-a-kind book and can charge whatever the hell they feel like. There IS no comparable!
Bauman occasionally buys a full-page ad in the New York Times Book Review. They’ll feature a dozen or so books. Most of them are show-off pieces. The type of posturing and preening you see at rare book fairs.
Currently, they have for sale, a Second Folio of Shakespeare plays (1632). It’s no exaggeration to say this book is a cornerstone of Western literature. There are fewer than 200 known copies and most of them are incomplete or somehow defective. This is a complete copy and is reported to be in excellent condition. Most of of the surviving copies are housed in institutions; there are very few in private hands.
So I would like this book. I’d like to keep it in my little hamlet in New Jersey. (Ha. See what I did there?) The asking price is $398K. That’s not so bad when you consider a First Folio would easily run in the millions. True, you can buy a house for $398K, but I’d really like this book.
Can you help me out, brothers and sisters?