Book Adventures at eBay

I bought 8 of 9 volumes of “History of the United States ” by historian George Bancroft, published in 1866, for $29.95 dollars today.  He is known as the foremost American 19th century historian in this history work.  I like Richard Hildreth more, his 6 volumes of U.S. history published in the 1850s, which I also have. I learned of Hildreth only this year through a citation of Southern historian Edward A. Pollard (contemporary of both).  I also learned of Pollard recently.  Hildreth and Pollard are very good.  Better than today’s?  Of course, and closer to the events.  Maybe that’s why I only know them since recently.  That’s how it goes too, but I want this story to be entertaining.

George Bancroft is more famous and his original book editions sell for more than two-hundred dollars, usually. The cheapest I once saw was $99.99 dollars for an 1880s six-volume set of this History of the United States , which included his last changes or additions.  This 8-volume set I got today is only missing volume 1.  I must not complain, I know.  I hope to check volume 1, if needed, at  Buying volume 1 alone should cost me more than 29.95 dollars.  Just shipping these 8 books to me should cost at least seven dollars, more than ten I’d say, but the price was $29.95 with free shipping.  I guess it looked like a mirage to me, and I couldn’t believe it until I read “Sold” after buying it for a total of 32 dollars after the tax, four dollars for each Bancroft tome published in 1866.  I don’t know.  I am not responsible for these eight history books, from the foremost 19th Century American historian, falling from the sky on my desk or lap.

After the death of Abraham Lincoln and at the request of “both Houses of the Congress of America”, historian George Bancroft was invited to deliver to them a “Memorial Address on the life and character of Abraham Lincoln”, which he delivered on the 12th of February, 1866, and which I purchased in booklet form because it’s “must reading” for closer and new insights (undoubtebly).  The trajectory of this American history book set is odd.  I see from a seal that it belonged to the University of California , but for some reason it fell into the hands of its “Department of Agriculture”.  How does that happen?  That’s bad.  Eventually, instead of going to the campus Library – History division, where it belongs among the illustrious books, they stamped “Withdrawn” on it and got rid of it.

Now, I see this eBay seller sells a single book titled “Nursery Rhymes and Picture Book” (1943) for $29.95, so let’s not imagine he gives all away.  Maybe he meant to sell it for $229.95 or for $290.95.  I don’t want to know.  If I am “coerced” into returning it, I’ll let you know.  Its picture on eBay says “Sold”, though.  I’m the purchaser so it must be mine.  I don’t know how it works.  These 8 books have a bad history.  I have too many books already or, rather, not enough space for my important books.  I found a good space for these.  It’ll be on top of all the books.

I don’t know if it was the “child within” or the good books hunter, but I got wistful about the time this set, in six volumes published in 1889, was for sale at $99.99, plus $20 or $30 for shipping – a great offer for these books!  It said “Best Offer”.  I made an offer for $50, looking to negotiate an even better price.  A real hunter came and took it for $99 plus before I could make my second offer.  Now, somebody has to take this other set and be a proud owner of it, appreciating it as it should be.

Several of the used books I purchased at eBay (and Amazon to a lesser degree) were owned by eminent people (intellectuals).  I once purchased a “combo” of the “Critick of Pure Reason” by Emmanuel Kant, the first English translation of it (1838), and the best in my opinion, and of “Analysis of Kant’s Critick of Pure Reason” (1844), written by this first translator (Francis Haywood).  Both were purchased separately and then rebound together by the original owner.  Who in the 19th century would do this in the United States ?  The owner wrote his name on it – John Steinfort Kidney.  I googled it.  He was one of the many fine American 19th century writers who, in my opinion, were not duly recognized for how good they were.  It’s a long list.  This combo cost me $140 – a good price considering that it’s hard to find this first translation, and no way to find these two in one combo like this (the lifetime work of the translator too).  I felt a kinship with J. S. Kidney, and I felt grateful, and I bought his own books, “Christian Doctrine Harmonized and It’s Rationality Vindicated” (two volumes, 383 and 441 pages, published in 1889 during his lifetime), and “The Beautiful and the Sublime: Analysis of these emotions and a determination of the objectivity of Beauty” (1880); and “Hegel’s Esthetics: A Critical Exposition” (1892).  I have read parts of the first work cited; it’s his main work.  Will I read the other two?  I don’t know – it was kinship and gratefulness.

I also bought the history of the war of the independence of the United States (1809) by Charles Botta, in two volumes (472 and 468 pages). He published it in Italian and he never set a foot in the United States .It was translated to English in 1821.Thomas Jefferson had the Italian version.He wrote, “…when the superiority of this work over every other on the same subject shall be more known, I think it will be the common manual of our revolutionary history.”John Adams wrote, “It is indeed the most classical and methodical, the most particular and circumstantial, the most entertaining and interesting narration of the American War, that I have seen.”James Madison wrote, “The author seems to have the merit of adding to his other qualifications much industry and care in his researches into the best sources of information, and it may readily be supposed that he did not fail to make the most of those of his access to those in France , not yet generally laid open.”Last month, I bought the first volume of this book from 1839 (tightly bound) at eBay for $10.50, and a solid volume 2 from 1837 for $20 (state of the world).

This would be too long if I told you all the wonderful book purchases at great buying prices made at eBay, mostly, but at Amazon too (the special combo at Amazon), but this one at $29.95 is the most remarkable purchase I have ever made (I’m sure you have your own stories).  Somebody made an error again, but we know people have been treating this great book set so.  Volume one must have been lost in a cornfield, or somebody destroyed it, or used it for the fireplace.  I want to buy the missing volume, but I have a low ceiling for it because I cannot ruin the $29.95 story.  I’m not sure how this purchase will go; I should have a right to keep it.  True that it makes no sense, but true also that it’s too late not to sell it.  It says “Awaiting shipment” now, going great.


Back for an encore (smiles).  The seller told me that he had to cancel the order because “free shipping” was a mistake and that the charge for shipping was $15 and that he always charges for shipping too.  He said that he would sell it to me if I covered half of the shipping cost, or $8 dollars.  I said: I agree to pay for half of the shipping cost (hiding my tension).  He thanked me for this and I bought the eight 19th century books for about 40 dollars instead of 32.  He (a saint to me, and I mean it, no kidding) thanked me for working through this with him.  I gathered some strength to write you’re welcome and thank you.

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