Not long after I published Geoff Wittig's recent review of Alfred Stieglitz: Photographs and Writings, I was surprised to receive the following email from one Chris Green:
In 1983, four or five lifetimes ago it seems, I was the production director for Callaway Editions when the Stieglitz Photographs and Writings book was created. I spent many weeks of very long days working closely with Steve Stinehour and his team at the Meriden Gravure Co. in Meriden, Connecticut and the Stinehour Press in Lunenburg, Vermont.
I did all of the press supervision, working directly from the Stieglitz originals, as well as a wide variety of other tasks related to the production of the first edition, first and second printings. This book was truly a labor of love by people we considered the best in the business.
I’ve kept 10 sealed copies of the first printing of the first edition for the last 25 years, waiting for an opportunity to find good homes for them with people who will enjoy and appreciate them. The books are in their original shrink-wrap inside their original sealed shipping cartons. They have never been opened since they were created. Having read the recent review and discussion on your site about a recent version of the book, it occurs to me that some of your readers might give these first editions good homes.
I’m not interested in trying to make a lot of money from these books. It’s not about the money. It’s about finding knowledgeable people who will appreciate them for their extraordinary quality.
I just did an inflation check on the Web. Given the books’ original MSRP of $125.00 (1983 dollars), their equivalent sticker price today would be [$251.75 to $262.22 based on several inflation calculators].
I am willing to sell these books for $250 each, plus shipping (and tax for NJ residents). This seems like a fair price to me, and I cannot, in good conscience, simply give them away for $50.
Yes, there have been many, many reprints of this book since the first edition, and there are many variant versions which are readily available at relatively low prices. Having said that, though, these are the real deal, and these are the only ones where the printing was constantly monitored against the originals.
This happens from time to time in book collecting—a true stash of pristine originals shows up and come on the market ever so briefly. I mentioned earlier that I happen to have a first edition of this book in my own library already, so I passed along Chris's offer to several photographer, book dealer, and book collector friends, and several people, including Michael Reichmann and Geoff Wittig himself, have each claimed one.
...But there should still be five or six left. $250 is a lot of money for a book, but it's an excellent price for a pristine first edition of this one. Chris has offered to include with each book a letter of provenance restating the information from his email above, which can only add to the interest of the books.
If you'd like to commit to buy one, please leave a comment, and I'll forward them to Chris in the order received. (T.O.P. isn't taking a cut or handing the exchange—you'll deal directly with him.)
P.S. To answer the inevitable question, yes, if it were me, I'd definitely crack open the packaging and tear off the plastic and look at the book. It might be worth slightly more as an investment in its original packaging—who knows?—but what's the use of owning a fine book if you can't look at it? Even a rare old bottle of wine should one day be raised in a toast among friends and tasted.
NOTE: I have forwarded the first thirteen or so names along to Chris, for what I believe are six available copies of the book. (The emails came in too rapidly for me to do better than that.) Even if several people don't follow through, they're probably all gone now. Thank you for your interest, and I'm sorry if you missed the opportunity!