Financial titan J.P. Morgan's book collection was so large that he employed a full time librarian. Composer extraordinaire Jerome Kern sold his collection of English and American Lit for $1.7 million in 1929. Michigan lawyer Bruce Kahn's collection of nearly 15,000 books is very likely the greatest gathering of modern first editions ever assembled. Bruce Kahn who?

 

That's right, since the 1980's Bruce Kahn has been quietly and diligently buying up the rarest and most pristine modern firsts on the market. Not only did Kahn go after a certain book by a particular author, he went after every book, in every collectible edition, for that author. So, for Paul Auster, the Kahn Collection boasts a copy -- 1 of 26 lettered and signed -- of Wall Writing ($1250.00); a copy -- 1 of 20 numbered and signed -- of Fragments from Cold ($1750.00); and a copy -- 1 of 26 lettered and signed -- of the New York Trilogy ($7500.00).

 

Tom Congalton, of Between the Covers Rare Books, jokingly describes Kahn as "a pain in the ass to sell books to. He always wanted his books to be in perfect condition, and even the slightest flaw would be either unacceptable, or even if he finally decided he could overlook some nearly microscopic flaw, it had damn well better be mitigated by being a unique copy or an exceptionally rare book, or an important association copy, or preferably both."

 

Bruce Kahn's persistence to perfection is evident in every single volume of his collection, from his edition of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, which is described as "essentially a flawless, perfect copy. While it is pretty much an unalterable rule that somewhere in the world there will always be a better copy, this copy breaks the rule" ($27,500.00); his "immaculate copy" of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird ($35,000.00), to his signed copy of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind which "is so fresh it appears to be facsimile, but it is not" ($55,000.00).

 

J.P. and Jerome who?

 

 

Wondering what one of your books is worth? Feel free to PM me through My Profile Page.

Comments
by Moderator Melissa_W on ‎05-15-2009 03:43 PM

I was thinking about this post...and then Booking through Thursday has a meme about book gluttony.

 

While copies of books that are collected for their value and condition are nice (and I enjoy looking at a well-preserved collection), I don't think I could do that even if I had all the money I needed to purchase the books.

 

I'm too much of a reader.  I have signed firsts of several Jasper Fforde (if he ever makes it back to the midwest then he's going to sign the rest), Diane Setterfield, Alice Sebold, and Elizabeth Kostova but they're not in pristine condition because the books have been read cover to cover and loved.  I try to keep them in good shape so they last but I'm not freaking out about dust or shelf wear.

by on ‎05-16-2009 09:30 AM

pedsphleb.." Book Gluttony " Good title for a book

by on ‎05-16-2009 10:01 AM
Beatles Attorney Kahn..Obsessive Compulsive. if thats him..Who shall he leave them to?   I have a John Irving,because he lives here in Manchester Vt ,a few Local Authors,Howard Frank Mosher, and one  By the Author of Revolutionary Road,..Short Stories..Hardcover,1st e.Richard / I am not recalling his last name..my daughter has them..
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