• <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition, in the original wrappers, of the first part of Pushkin’s masterpiece – ‘a bibliographical rarity of the highest order’ (Smirnov-Sokol’skii). £25,000 to £35,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The very rare first edition of Gogol’s first masterpiece and his first obtainable book. £50,000 to £70,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition of Dostoevsky's <i>Brat'ia Karamazovy</i> (1830) in a superb contemporary cloth presentation binding. £22,000 to £30,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>The first edition of the first version of the opening of <i>War and Peace,</i> with the original paper covers. £15,000 to £20,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>An early corrected typescript of Akhmatova's <i>Poema bez geroia</i> (July 1946) £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>A presentation copy of the first edition of <i>Kamen</i> (1913) inscribed by Mandel'shtam to his early mentor the poet Viacheslav Ivanov. £60,000 to £90,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>Rare autograph correspondence from Vladislav Khodasevich, including a manuscript of his long poem 'Sorrento Photographs' (1921). £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 28 November:</b><br>An important letter from Marina Tsvetaeva to the poet Nikolai Tikhonov (1935) in which she challenges Pasternak and his views on poetry. £12,000 to £18,000
  • <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 45. A complete edition of the rare and popular <i>Mer des Histoires,</i> 1543. Est. $28000 to $35000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 64. Kircher's fascinating cross-section of the earth's interior, 1682. Est. $1600 to $1900
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 68. Geographical guide to a man's heart with obstacles "clearly marked", 1960. Est. $200 to $300
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 75. Jansson's rare carte-a-figures map of the Americas in full original color, 1645. Est. $7000 to $8500
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 107. Includes famous Gallatin map and portraits of North American Indians, 1840. Est. $900 to $1100
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 231. A hot-air balloon perspective of California's famous Wine Country, 1979. Est. $150 to $180
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 236. Lovely chromolithograph of California Street in San Francisco, 1864. Est. $1000 to $1300
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 446. Rare German satirical map of World War I, 1915. Est. $1800 to $2200
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 543. Olearius' important plan of Moscow, 1647. Est. $1800 to $2200
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 660. Robert Walton's scarce, separately-issued carte-a-figures map, 1660. Est. $6000 to $7000
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 702. Rare engraving of flags from "Le Neptune Francois", 1700.<br>Est. $950 to $1200
    <b>Old World Auctions (Nov 1-14):</b><br>Lot 719. Two-volume geographical grammar & dictionary with 20 maps, 1795. Est. $450 to $550
  • <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>A Farewell To Arms,</i> 1929. $500 to $800
    <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> William Faulkner, <i>Go Down Moses,</i> 1942. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> Jack Kerouac, <i>Vanity Of Dulouz,</i> 1968. $250-350
    <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> Gertrude Stein, <i>The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas,</i> 1933. $150-250
    <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> John Steinbeck, Three first editions. Comprising <i>Of Mice and Men, Covici-Friede,</i> 1937. $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> Dalton Trumbo, <i>Johnny Got His Gun,</i> 1939. $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Online-Only Auction, 20th Century Literature, Nov 15:</b> Evelyn Waugh, <i>Vile Bodies,</i> 1930. $400 to $600
  • <center><b>Bonhams New York: December 5<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight [and] History of Science and Technology, Including Space History<br><br>Bonhams Online: Fine Books and Manuscripts, December 6-13</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <center><b>Bonhams New York: December 5<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight [and] History of Science and Technology, Including Space History<br><br>Bonhams Online: Fine Books and Manuscripts, December 6-13</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <center><b>Bonhams New York: December 5<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight [and] History of Science and Technology, Including Space History<br><br>Bonhams Online: Fine Books and Manuscripts, December 6-13</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <center><b>Bonhams New York: December 5<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight [and] History of Science and Technology, Including Space History<br><br>Bonhams Online: Fine Books and Manuscripts, December 6-13</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2013 Issue

Book Prices Declined in 2012... Maybe

Washconst

George Washington's copy of the Constitution was the top priced book auctioned in 2012 - $9,826,500.

All else being equal...

This month we look back at 2012 at auction for our annual state of the book trade review. This is not because most books are bought and sold at auction. They are not. Most sell through dealer shops, online at listing sites or eBay, or through other private transactions. However, those transactions are hidden from the public eye. Only auction sales take place under the glare of the open market, so they provide our best look at what is taking place in the trade.

This past year's numbers indicate a decline in price, which seems consistent with unscientific, anecdotal comments from dealers. Still, this brings us back to that first line - all else being equal. All else was not equal in the auction rooms this past year. More books are appearing at auction. Whether this represents a shift in how books are sold, or reflects a greater quantity of books coming to market, is unclear. What it does say is that changes are taking place in the book market. A flood of books to a particular venue could push prices down while not necessarily being reflective of the overall market. Most likely it reflects some softening in price, but we cannot be as confident of this assessment as we would be if sales volume was similar while prices went down.

For example, one notable difference was the emergence of Heritage Auctions as a high volume seller. We've not seen anything quite like it before. Their share of books sold at auction rose from 1.7% a year earlier to 12.5% last year. Their median, as might be expected with such a high volume, was lower than average, skewing the numbers down.

This past year, we were able to track 310,489 items in the books/paper/ephemera field offered at auction, with 221,248 lots sold. The sell through rate was 71%. The previous year (2011), the number of lots offered was 244,840, with 166,903 sold, a sell-through rate of 68%. That's a 27% increase in lots offered, and despite the “flooding” of items, the sales rate actually increased by 3%. For starters, we can conclude there is a robust market for books, even if prices may have come down somewhat.

Next, we look at the median price for books at auction, the price at which half of the items (which sold) sold for more, and half for less. For 2012, that number was $351.That is down from $378 the prior year. That is a drop of 7%, a not insignificant amount. Still, it is hard to determine whether the higher number of books being offered explains more of the drop than does a deteriorating market.

So... next we looked at the percentage of items which sold for more than their high estimate vs. the number which sold for less than their low estimate. This one was surprising. Last year, 51% of the lots which sold, sold for more than the high estimate, vs. 28% for less than the low estimate. The prior year, that ratio was 46%-30%. In other words, even though the median price was down, more books last year were selling for more than was expected than was the case the previous year. Unless auction houses were greatly reducing their estimates, which seems unlikely, books and related material were outselling expectations, and achieving a greater sell-through rate. This is not what we would expect from a depressed market. The result is that while we experienced a 7% decline in the median price of books at auction last year, it appears that this decline can at least in part be attributed to many more books being put up for sale at auction this past year, rather than declining interest.

What does this mean for the traditional bookseller? We have only anecdotal evidence of their sales, but it will surprise no one in the trade that we don't hear a great many dealers saying they had a bang-up year. Bookselling can be challenging these days. Traditional strategies, from issuing paper catalogues, to operating bricks and mortar showrooms, to attending book fairs, may not work as well as they once did. Nevertheless, it should be of comfort for those in the trade to realize that books are selling, and at a slightly higher rate at auction than a year ago. The market is still there. The challenge is finding it.

The volume leader this past year was Heritage Auctions, selling 27,662 lots. They now conduct some of their sales online. Runner-up was last year's leader, Kiefer Buch und Kunstauktionen of Germany, with 13,034. Despite slipping to second, their unit sales nonetheless rose 15%. Bloomsbury was the only other house to reach five digits, with 11,375 (note – major houses such as Sotheby's and Christie's are tracked by individual location, rather than combining all sales).

The highest median price went to Christie's King Street location in London, at $13,000. Also in five digits were Sotheby's in New York at $10,625 and Christie's in New York at $10,000. However, the highest average sale went to Sotheby's in London at $47,135. A higher average relative to the median indicates some very expensive items were among their mix. For those scared off by such numbers, the median at 16 auction houses was between $100 and $200. There are auction houses that feature many lots in double digits, affordable for those who don't frequent the halls of Christie's and Sotheby's.

Fall, followed by spring, remain the most active times of the year, with November again being the busiest month. However the greatest increases on a percentage basis came in some of the traditionally off-months, including July and January. With more material coming to auction, some houses have been holding sales in traditionally slow months, evidently attempting to avoid being lost in the rush of the busiest months.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>H. Schedel, <i>Buch der Chroniken,</i> 1493. Est: € 120,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Latin and Book of Hours, around 1500. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Biblia latina, Koberger printing 1493. Est: € 4,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>P. de Medina, <i>Libro de grandezas,</i> 1549. Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>C. J. Trew, <i>Plantae selectae,</i> 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>A. de Laborde, <i>Voyage pittoresque,</i> 1806-20. Est: € 8,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>G. Klimt, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> 1931.<br>Est: € 10,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>W. Kandinsky, <i>Klänge,</i> 1913.<br>Est: € 20,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>F. Léger, <i>Les illuminations,</i> 1949.<br>Est: € 2,000
    <b>Ketterer Kunst Hamburg, Rare Books Auction on November 26th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Master binding by E. Maylander, 1945. Est: € 1,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b> Master binding by G. Cretté, 1934. Est: € 6,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, November 26:</b><br>S. Dalí, <i>Après 50 ans des surréalisme,</i> 1974. Est: € 8,000
  • <center><b>David Gindy's One Of A Kind Collectibles Rare Autographs & Manuscripts Auction.<br>November 15, 2018</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> An original copy of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “extending the right of suffrage to women.” $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> William Henry Harrison. Very rare signature as President. $7,500 to $10,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> 24"x32" Signed Image of Alexander Graham Bell. $7,500 to $10,000
    <center><b>David Gindy's One Of A Kind Collectibles Rare Autographs & Manuscripts Auction.<br>November 15, 2018</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Important Appointment for Harry Woodring as Secretary of War by Franklin D. Roosevelt. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Thomas Edison original patent related to dynamos for electrical lamps. $14,000 to $18,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Important 1681 Penn Land Grant to His friend Robert Turner, credited for defining the look of Philadelphia for the next 200 years. $5,000 to $7,000
    <center><b>David Gindy's One Of A Kind Collectibles Rare Autographs & Manuscripts Auction.<br>November 15, 2018</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Act of the Second Congress relating to trade with Indians issued by George Washington and signed by Thomas Jefferson. $22,000 to $27,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Document signed, August 15, 1861, appointing Fabius Stanley a Commander in the Navy. $6,500 to $8,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Abraham Lincoln. A fine example of the iconic George Clark ambrotype. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>David Gindy's One Of A Kind Collectibles Rare Autographs & Manuscripts Auction.<br>November 15, 2018</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Hector Berlioz. Rare autograph musical quotation signed, seven bars from the “Love Scene” of his choral symphony Romeo et Juliette. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> McKenney & Hall. <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America</i>, 1865, Three Volumes. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Nov. 15:</b> Rare Honore de Balzac handwritten and signed letter bound in book. $3,000 to $5,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Maria Louise Kirk, 4 pen, ink, watercolor & gouache illustrations for <i>Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,</i> 1904. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> H.A. Rey, <i>“Do You Want To Get Across?”</i> colored pencil, charcoal & watercolor, 1939. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Norman Rockwell, <i>The Pharmacist,</i> study for cover of <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1939. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, illustration for Homer’s <i>Odyssey,</i> gouache & watercolor, 1914. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Ludwig Bemelmans, <i>“And everyone was in his bed,"</i> gouache, watercolor & ink on board, 1961. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Charles M. Shulz, <i>Woodstock is Searching for His Identity,</i> original pen & ink 4-panel <i>Peanuts</i> comic strip, 1972. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> painted collage, 1990. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Jerry Pinkney, <i>The Lion & The Mouse,</i> watercolor & graphite, illustration for <i>School Library Journal,</i> 2009. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Maurice Sendak, watercolor & graphite illustration for <i>Little Bear's New Friend,</i> 2001. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Peter Arno, <i>Circus Tricks,</i> ink, wash & watercolor, cover illustration for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1964. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 6:</b> Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury: <i>“Is Rufus Ready for his Lesson?”,</i> watercolor, pen & ink, circa 1970s. $6,000 to $9,000.
  • <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> GAZA, Theodorus. <i>Introductivae grammatices libriquatuor.</i> Venice: Aldus Manutius, 25 December 1495. €40,000 to 50,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> MACHIAVELLI, Niccolo. <i>Historie di Nicolo Machiavegli cittadino, et segretario fiorentino</i>... Rome: Antonio Blado, 25 March 1532. €15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> BELLMER, Hans -- ELUARD, Paul. <i>Les Jeux de la Poupée. Illustrés de textes par Paul Eluard.</i> Paris : les Editions Premieres, 1949. €30,000 to 40,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, Nov 20:</b> [BONNARD, Pierre] - VERLAINE, Paul. <i>Parallèlement.</i> Paris : Imprimerie nationale & Ambroise Vollard, 1900. €30,000 to 40,000
  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Buffon (G.L.M.L., Comte de). <i>Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux,</i> 10 vol., large paper copy, 973 hand-coloured engraved plates drawn and engraved by Franz Nicolaus Martinet, Paris, 1770-86. £70,000 to 90,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Bible (English). The Holy Bible, first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], 1611. £30,000 to 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Marlborough (John Churchill, 1st Duke of).- [Parker (Robert, army officer)] <i>[Memoirs of the remarkable military transactions from the year 1688 to 1718],</i> ?autograph manuscript, 300pp., [c. 1718]. £20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> France.- Paris.- Turgot (Michel Etienne). <i>Plan de Paris,</i> engraved maps, contemporary red morocco, gilt, Paris, 1739. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Mongolia.- Pallas (Peter Simon). <i>Sammlungen Historischer Nachrichten uber die Mongolischen Volkerschaften,</i> first edition, complete with 31 plates, St. Petersburg, 1776-1801. £10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Brant (Sebastian). <i>Stultifera Navis... The Ship of Fooles, wherein is shewed the folly of all States...,</i> large woodcut title and numerous woodcuts in the text, [London], [John Cawood], 1570. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Aldus.- Boccaccio (Giovanni). <i>Il Decamerone,</i> Venice, House of Aldus & Andrea Torresani, 1522. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Wallace (Alfred Russel). 77pp. of Autograph letters (and 1 postcard) to various people, 1894-1904, on various palaeontological, geological and natural history matters. £8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> DNA.- Watson (James D.) and Francis Crick, <i>Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid,</i> 1953 [and others]. £5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. November 29, 2018</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Optics.- Molyneux (William). <i>Dioptrica nova. A Treatise of Dioptricks, in Two Parts,</i> first edition, for Benj. Tooke, 1692. £5,000 to 7,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Economics.- Mississippi & South Sea Bubbles.- <i>Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid,</i> 74 engraved plates and 3 maps, Amsterdam, 1720. £4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions, Nov. 29:</b> Asia.- Clouet (Jean Baptiste Louis). <i>Carte D'Asie Divisée en ses Principaux Etats,</i> engraved map with hand-colouring, on wooden rollers, 1782. £3,000 to 5,000

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