A cottage industry of Newport Mansions has grown up around the ABAA Book Fair in New York over the past twenty years. The leading dealers, collectors and institutions come together in April for a celebration of the passion of book collecting. New York auctions, years ago, wholesalers to the trade, today occupy an in-between place as wholesaler-retailer and fill the New York auction calendar like confetti at New Years. Dealers, institutions and collectors, like the outcasts of Poker Flat, look to cash their chips at the appointed hour. It turns out books, maps, manuscripts and ephemera are temporary repositories of value that either disappear into institutions or are sold. Auctions and dealers recycle the goods, auctions a bit more decisively. For sellers it’s often a matter of taste and connection. If three generations of Pierpont-Smith’s have disposed at Sothebys, the fourth will prefer do so. If dealers are long associated with a collection they will probably handle its dispersal. Durable connection is paramount.
Through the economic downturn material has needed to be sold. Consignors prefer outright sale to the uncertainty of the rooms but if dealer offers are insufficient or only for high points the auctions loom as a powerful alternative. Hence a dozen auctions in April.
The month has 30 days and there are 12 sales in New York, a sale every 60 hours. Of course this is misleading because the first sale is on the 6th and the last on the 29th. In this 24-day period there are 12 sales in 24 days or one every 48 hours. Even for New York, the city that never sleeps, this is a breathtaking pace.
Here is the link to April Auctions.