Master Craftsmen of Newport


Well-known member
I've been working through my Stuff to determine what to keep, what to sell and so on. Too much accumulation and I'ld really like to see the back of a bookcase or two as well as what the basement floor looks like.

I've had a copy of Master Craftsmen of Newport for many years, most of which time it has sat on the shelf with only the occasional perusal. I bought it years ago just after it was published.

The current prices I see on ABE and Alibris are, to my mind, crazy. As a bookseller, I realize that the dealer wants to ask the going price, but I really feel that this is a case of dealers listening to each other rather than to what the market will allow. One grand for the book? That's absurd. It's common practice for bookpeople to check ABE to see what the going price is for something. But... if a few dealers have crazy prices, sometimes everyone else follows suit and nothing sells.

I'll be putting this one and some others up for sale, first here at SAPFM for reasonable prices. Have to do a little research first to determine condition and pricing.

It might be embarrasing to ask, but has anyone purchased a copy in the last few years?


I haven't bought one, for the reason you mention: simply can't afford anything like the prices being asked.  I did look at the copy in the Williamsburg library, tho.

Perhaps the price you end up asking will be affordable.  If so, I certainly will be interested.
When last I checked, there where five copies available on ABE. Really... five copies is not what you find for a 'rare' book. That's part of what I meant by the book dealer mentality, which does not always reflect reality. I guess the same goes for dealers of any sort of antique or collectible.

As with the reprints I'm publishing, whatever I sell, books, tools, things... prices are always reasonable. What good is something if it is sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to pay the big money for it? My bank account certainly doesn't feel the love.

Perhaps you can cut the gordian knot and find a way to republish the book!

this would be a real service to all who love newport furniture.

Something that I wish you would consider,
As for reprinting this one, the details are"

Master craftsmen of Newport: the Townsends and Goddards
by Michael Moses
cosponsored by Israel Sack, Inc.

It was self-published by Michael Moses, funded by Israel Sack, Inc. At least so far as I have been able to discover. That would mean tracking down Mr. Moses, dealing with whoever currently owns Israel Sack, Inc. That company closed in 2002 following the death of the founder. Then finding out who owns clear copyright of the book. Negotiating a publishing contract... and so on.

Unfortunately, my fledgling operation is not up to a task of that immensity. Fully fledged publishing contracts require attorneys, negotiation and of course, money.

Maybe someday?
Yeah, agrees with toolemera, out of print book prices, at least in the furniture world, are out of control. On another thread discussing Va eastern shore corner cupboards, someone mentioned a book, "Eastern Shore, Virginia, raised-panel furniture, 1730-1830" so i go to amazon and its $200. I'd like to read the book but not at that price.

Actually, i much prefer reading  books on kindle or some other digital reading device as its much less clutter and always available, just a click away.

You are correct in your assessment of how the book was published and funded. The Sacks exercised a great deal of control over the book well beyond its original publication date. Mike Moses is most likely retired and will be hard to track down. The biggest hurdle would be the market. When I worked with Mike in the mid to late 90's to purchase half of the remaining inventory of the books and turn the other half into the leather bound special edition, he still had approximately 10% - 15% of the original (and only) printing left. Traditionally printings for furniture books are rather small in number (MCoN's original printing was, if I recall correctly, somewhere in the 2000 - 2500 copy range). To reprint the book would be an expensive undertaking with a very limited market. Most companies are not willing to invest that kind of money for an extended (10 - 15 year payback) timeframe.

The Eastern Shore book was published by the Chrysler Museum and followed the same "small run" mentality under which most furniture books are published. In over 25 years as an avid book collector (15 of which I was an extremely active bookseller) I've only seen a few copies come on the market. Sometimes, supply and demand actually drives the price of scarce, out of print furniture books. The problem is, there's usually only a few people out there willing to pay the price and a handful more that would like the book if it were available at a more reasonable price. This usually equates to a copyright holder who isn't willing to pay for reprinting and a few hundred readers who aren't willing to pay for one of the few available copies. That's why there are 5 copies of MCoN on ABE at $700 +.
This discussion of out of print books is an important one.  Too many valuable references are out of print and, often because of price, unavailable to those who want to use them.  I think we all understand that the cost of reprinting these books, combined with the limited audience, makes it unlikely that many will ever be reissued, but the post two above this one raises an interesting possibility.  How difficult would it be to reissue these titles as e-books?  I don't know much about the process but I would guess that it takes only the time and effort to get them online and that they could be purchased on demand after that, without the expense of printing, storage, shipping and inventory.  The cost would seem to be purchasing the rights and the initial data entry.  I'm sure that the museums and authors who own these rights would be happy to accept royalties, especially when there was no actual capital investment involved on their part.  Newer titles are probably already digital making this process even easier.  Perhaps a member who is more knowledgable than me about these things should look into this.  It might be something that SAPFM could help come true.  I don't currently own a Kindle or one of the other, similar devices, but access to some of these titles would certainly make me think about buying one.
I emailed Mike Moses a few years back trying to get permission to make colored copies of the book for a limited number of SAPFM members.  I found an email address for him by searching on the web.  Needless to say I never got a response back from him.  There was a lot of interest from several SAPFM members to chip in and get high quality color copies made and have the books bound nicely.  I still think that would be a good option because as was stated earlier, re-publishing the book would be much more expensive.

Chuck, Briyon, Bob and whoever else I may have missed...

The book market is a weird one. I've been buying, selling and collecting books for about 35 years now. The same goes for tools. Pottery, glass... you get the drift. On a regular basis I see books that, in my estimate, are worth in the $50-$100 range priced at $200-$300. Sometimes it's simply seller greed, sometimes it's the proliferation of bad information. As an ex-research librarian, the telephone effect of information dissemination is always a problem. There is always the hope that supply and demand will, in time, bring prices within reason. And pigs will fly too. Why someone would allow a title to sit on the sales shelf for years in hopes of a big score when they could sell it for less and sooner, thereby getting cash flow, is beyond me. There comes a point in any business when you have to move the goods and go on to something else.

eBooks... I now stay far away from them. The technology, the competition and the market is in such flux that it's insane to get involved. Piracy has effectively sent the pricing into the Amazon only range. The basic assumption is, if you produce an eBook, someone will rip it off. Although there is a substantial group of readers who want eBooks, it is still a minute fraction of the publishing market (3% last yeat and I don't know what it is for 2010).

On the bright side, there are a few printer shop/binderies that are supplying inhouse digital production for short run jobs (200-500 copies). This does raise the possibility of some reprints in the future, particularly as prices drop on the production end. I can now have a 200 page book digitized in high quality images for around $125.00. Just five years ago that figure was pushing the $400 mark. I'm in talks with one local shop to see what they can do for short run jobs, not for my titles at present, but for some associations I work with.

Color is still the biggest catch. Add color content and the cost doubles or even triples.

Gary and all,

I certainly take your point on the problems with e-books, particularly the problem of piracy.  I don't really like e-books as a choice, much preferring old-fashioned paper, but in this case, I'd be ready to compromise.  We want these books available and, at least from a SAPFM public service vantage point, profit is not the goal.  We want the books in the public realm to be used.  If we could pay for the rights and for the labor and the administration of the distribution, possibly through the SAPFM store, then as long as we did not lose money it would not be too important if the titles were eventually, inevitably, pirated.  A secondary benefit from the e-books might be to bring down the price of hardcopies.  I'd be more than pleased to see some of these books reprinted in hardcopy, but I'm not ready to drop the idea of electronic reproduction as well.


When I was an antiquarian bookseller, the mentality you described seemed to run rampent. I never understood "generalist" booksellers attempting to get "specialist" prices for a book for which they had no market. The "specialist" dealer charges more for a book because he knows the supply is limited and, if he's any good at all, has a market that will compete for the items he uncovers. The internet has made "specialists" of many "generalists".

As far as MCoN is concerned, there has always been a specific intent for maintaining, and extending, the value of the book. Those involved with the book from its inception had a very specific concept of how the value should go. I can tell you, none of those involved would be comfortable with the idea of reprinting the book in any form.
Chuck Bender said:
" I can tell you, none of those involved would be comfortable with the idea of reprinting the book in any form. "


Which is quite alright, so far as I am concerned. Reprinting any book currently under copyright I will leave to the likes of F+W Media. I'll stick with the early stuff... which I have a decided predilection for in any event.