Found – an obscure work by Robert Power, a forgotten journalist. In the 1920s and up to the early 1950s his short ‘thought pieces’ were syndicated in the UK and as far as Australia. This tradition of coffee break columns is still with us – now it’s Robert Crampton rather than Robert Power but it may not continue much longer…There is no real equivalent online. This is from his Two-minute talks (Vol 2) S. W. Partridge (London,1925) and still has some relevance in the time of eBay. Other ‘talks’ have titles such as ‘Poppy Friendships’, ‘Blistering Tongues’, ‘In the W.P.B.’, ‘Rich Poverty’, ‘Are you Popular?’, ‘Poachers’ and ‘Rubbernecks.’
"GOING! Going! Gone!" cries the auctioneer and brings down his mallet with a sharp rap to declare that opportunity to purchase has passed for all save the highest bidder.
The auctioneer emphasises the desirability of the goods he offers. In seductive language he paints the picture of a bargain that must be seized at once. Prudence struggles with desire in the mind of the keen bargain hunter, but time is limited, and if he lingers in indecision too long, the descending hammer puts a period to his vacillation.
Not the essayist and improbable author of Shakespeare's plays, but the artist who yesterday broke the world record for highest sum ever achieved by an artist in auction.$142.2 million.
It must have been in the early 1980s, I had been viewing a book sale at Christies South Kensington ('CSK') in the days when they still had large lots of books in tea-chests and you would find the legendary Roger Elliott ('2 L's, 2 T's') and the writer /bouquiniste Alex Trocchi ploughing through them. I bumped into an old friend and he told me he was going to look at, and possibly buy, some precious stones at a sort of geology shop just off the King's Road. We made our way to his car through Reece Mews a cobbled street opposite the mighty auction rooms. Half way along we were hailed by an oldish but very lively man in what appeared to be a rubber mac, surmounted by a pleasing slightly waxy face - it was none other than the artist Francis Bacon who appeared to have lunched well and was on his way to his studio. We chatted for a moment and he asked us where we were going. We told him that we were off to buy some precious stones. Possibly he was about to invite us into his studio...however he replied 'So you're going abroad are you?' That was it. A slightly enigmatic remark. It seemed curious but it could be that, like Graham Greene, he took valuables with him when he went abroad to exchange or give as gifts - something practiced only by those with very long suits of cash.
Our colleague Martin Stone, guitar musician and book scout, met him a couple of times in Paris when he was working for Shakespeare & Co. He dined with him at the smart restaurant, next to the Whitman bookshop, called La Bucherie. Martin reports that he was very good company- erudite, worldly and witty. Later at Reece Mews someone
made a fortune clearing a skip (dumpster) placed ouside full of bits of half finished canvas, palettes and sketches..
See this Fortune article explaining why his tryptych of Lucian Freud made so much. It's basically about the rich getting richer.
An auction concluded this August at the august RR Auctions where a credit card receipt signed by the reclusive J. D. Salinger made $450. It was described thus:
Receipt for a purchase of two books at the Dartmouth Bookstore in Hanover, NH, on November 11, 2001, 2.75 x 7.5, signed in black ballpoint, “J. Salinger.” In fine condition, with an area of slight staining at the bottom. Pre-certified PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.
This was spotted by a Jot101 reader (many thanks JK) who saw the salient point in the lot – one of the books was about the writer himself With Love and Squalor: 14 Writers Respond To The Work Of J.D. Salinger.
This writer remembers Catcher in the Rye being confiscated at school in the 1960s and one of the ‘Squalor’ contributors, Walter Kirn, talks of how the book was snatched from his hand and thrown across the floor at college when he was reading it after the murder of John Lennon (it was reported that his assassin had found secret messages in the novel.) It is not uncommon for a writer to buy books about himself – we had a copy of J. Franklin Bruce’s book on Robert Heinlein extensively annotated by Heinlein. Of course being notably litigious JDS may have been looking for something to put his lawyers on to…
It was in the summer of 1999 that the actor, screenwriter, director (Stepford Wives, Whistle Down the Wind, Séance on a wet Afternoon), turned crime writer, who died last May, had asked me to meet him at his second hand bookshop in Virginia Water.
It was an odd sort of shop—not the type one would come across in most provincial towns or indeed most parts of London. Here were no grubby leather-bound tomes in tottering piles, or cabinet of curiosities. I think it sold new as well as second books and indeed most volumes seemed to be of the twentieth century. I glanced around expecting to find rare books on golf or lawn tennis, classic American hard boiled thrillers or collections of recipes for cocktails.
But there no time to look further as Forbes appeared in person and we were soon speeding along in what was probably his Aston Martin to his home on the ultra- exclusive Wentworth estate. I only caught a glance of its exterior, but it seemed to be a huge and classic twenties film-star mansion, which it was, in the sense that Forbes later told me that as a young budding film star in the fifties he had bought it as a total wreck and had spent many thousands of pounds doing it up. Something to admire, I thought.