Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2013 Issue

AE Top 500 Auction Sales for 2012

Spiderman328

Spiderman takes on the Hulk, and takes in $657,250 for his efforts. Courtesy Heritage Auctions.

It is time once again to look back at the Americana Exchange's annual listing of the Top 500 sales at auction in the books, works on paper, and related ephemera field for 2012. It was an unusually active year, but likely the new norm. The volume of sales at auction has been building steadily and there is no reason to believe the trend won't continue. For 2012, there were again 11 items in the million dollar category, but #1 was almost $10 million, nearly four times the highest priced item of 2011.

 

Perhaps most telling was #500. In 2011, that item sold for $52,170. In 2012, #500 sold for $71,700. That's an increase of 37%. What's going on here? Are prices rising that much? While the top end appears to be the strongest part of the market, prices aren't growing that rapidly. What we are seeing is more books coming to auction. As more books are offered at auction, naturally, more high-priced ones appear. Auctions are taking more of the market, like the listing sites did a decade ago, except the auctions garner more of the high end books.

 

Another trend that continues is the shift to more ephemeral items, manuscripts, maps, images, and items other then traditional books. Visual and unique are increasingly valuable attributes. People like things they can easily display on a wall, and things that are one of a kind. The result is that images and manuscripts continue to generate increasing interest, even as traditional books struggle a bit for attention. Another important factor is familiarity to one's own lifetime experiences. This year the list is filled with comic books and comic book art, mainly U.S. action comics, interspersed with Hergé's French cartoon, Tintin. These are items today's buyers grew up with in their youth.

 

In a moment, we will look at the top 10, but first, here are a few other choices from the list. At the end of this article is a link to the entire AE Top 500.

 

Item 495 is a series of documents pertaining to the shooting of Johnny Torrio in Chicago in 1925. One of those documents is a signed deposition of Torrio's protege, Al Capone. Asked how many times he has been arrested in Chicago, Capone replies, “Every time something happens I get arrested.” Capone says he did not know who did the shooting, but when asked if he would say if he did know, Capone responds, “No, I value my life too much to tell if I did know.” $72,000.

 

Item 422 is a minor document signed by an obscure president. It is a ship's passport, a routinely issued document from presidents at the time. What makes this so valuable is that it was signed by President William Henry Harrison. Harrison took ill shortly after being inaugurated and died a month later. His signature as president, therefore, is extremely rare. $80,500.

 

Item 335 is an archive of memorabilia pertaining to Edgar Allen Poe, including family correspondence, pictures, a lock of Poe's hair, and the engagement ring he gave his childhood sweetheart when finding her later in life. Poe died before they could wed. $94,000.

 

Item 275 is a land document signed by explorers Meriwether Lewis and Joseph Clark. It is the only known document signed by both in private hands. $110,000.

 

Item 191 is the contract Sitting Bull signed to appear in Buffalo Bill's Wild West. The Sioux Chief toured with Buffalo Bill during 1885. $155,350.

 

Item 168 is a letter from English King Richard III from 1484 or 1485 asking a justice of the peace to assist a nobleman in the return of his manor. $169,338.

 

Item 143 is the original manuscript and a typescript for an F. Scott Fitzgerald unpublished short story, circa 1920, entitled TheI.O.U. $194,500.

 

Item 117 is an autographed manuscript of the AveMaria by composer Giuseppe Verdi. $232,400.

 

Item 22 is Todd McFarlane's original cover art for a 1990 issue of TheAmazingSpider-Man#328. $657,250.

 


Posted On: 2013-01-04 00:00
User Name: scientiabk

All 10 of your "other choices" on the list above are non-book items. So it is not just the buyers at auction who are tending more and more to


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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