Signed Tolstoy book sells for $125
By Mark Newman, News Staff
It had been sitting on a shelf behind the counter at the Mountain Bookstore for some time before Lynn Page spotted it.
“I saw something out of the corner of my eye,” said Page, a Mountain realtor and former Concession Street BIA executive director and frequent customer.
It was called Esarhaddon and Other Tales, a small, thin, cream coloured hard cover book in good condition that had been published in 1903 by Funk & Wagnalls Company inNew York City.
The author was Leo Tolstoy.
Upon further examination, the famous Russian author’s signature was found on a piece of onion paper inside.
Bookstore owner Betty Toplack said her research plus 27 years experience dealing with old books has convinced her that the book and signature are genuine.
“I’ve done some research on the Internet and I’ve gone over it with a magnifying glass and it appears to be a true signature,” Toplack said of the 64-page book of folktale stories that have been translated into English from the original Russian.
Toplack said the book, which was sold to Page for $125, was among a massive collection, over a thousand old books that arrived in 26 car-loads from a city woman about two years ago.
The books were placed on consignment and Toplack said they are displayed on the store shelves as space permits.
“I’ve seen (the book) on the Internet as high as $175,” Toplack said. “This is certainly the most unique autograph I’ve had.”
But it’s far from the oldest book she’s ever sold.
Toplack recalls selling a book about fort-making that dated back to the 1750s about 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, Page is thrilled with the latest addition to her already overflowing collection of old and classic books.
“I like history,” Page said. “I think it’s important to keep track of wisdom and not get swept away (into believing) that everything you ever need to find is on your iPhone, because that’s not true.”
Most famous for his epic War and Peace, Tolstoy was an author, essayist and philosopher who lived from 1828 to 1910.
He wrote dozens of books, plays and short stories.