• <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Zenobius. Epitome proverbiorum Tarrhaei et Didymi [graece], Florence, [possibly Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, [after 23 September] 1497. £15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Phalaris. [Phalaridis tyranni Apollonii Philosophi pythagoraei Epistolae [Graece], Venice, Bartholomaeus Pelusius, Gabriel Bracius de Brisighella, Johannes Bissolus and Benedictus Mangius, 18 June, 1498. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Orpheus. Argonautica. Hymni [graece], Florence, [Bartolomeo de' Libri for] Filippo Giunta, 19 September, 1500. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Primaleon.- Los tres libros del muy esforçado cavallero Primaleon et Polendos su hermano…, Venice, Giovanni Antonio Nicolini da Sabbio for Giovanni Battista Pederzano, February, 1534. £20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bodoni (Giambattista). Manuale Tipografico, 2 vol., Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, 1818. £8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Music. Gafurius (Franchinus). Practica musicae, Brescia, Angelus Britannicus, 23 September, 1497. £10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bonaventura (Saint). A group of three Franciscan mystical texts, [14th century]. £15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Boccaccio (Giovanni). Trattatello in laude di Dante, decorated manuscript on paper, Florence, first half of 15th century. £30,000 – 40,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Greek medical manuscript. Iatrosophion, decorated manuscript on paper, Greece (probably Crete), [first half of 16th century]. £8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Western Manuscripts & Works on Paper. January 25, 2017</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Heraldry. Nayler (George). Album of coats of arms compiled from the papers of Sir George Nayler, 114 coats of arms, most with manuscript captions. [17th, 18th & early 19th centuries]. £1,500 – 2,000
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Zoffany (Johan). Autograph Letter signed to Messrs. Raikes & Co., merchants, 1p. with conjugate blank and address panel, 17th July 1801, "In consequence of an order I received from General Claud Martin…”<br>£500 - 700
    <b>Forum Auctions Jan. 25:</b> Bury (Richard de, Bishop of Durham). Philobiblon...sive de amore librorum, Oxford, Joseph Barnes, 1599.<br>£4,000 – 6,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Princezna Hyacinta</i>, 1911. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b><br><i>Les Maîtres de l'Affiche</i>, 5 volumes, Paris, 1896-1900.<br>$35,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job</i>, 1896.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Bleuze - Hadancourt Parfumeur</i>, circa 1899.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Lygie</i>, 1901. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894.<br>$30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Zodiac / La Plume</i>, 1896. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>The Seasons</i>, 4 panels on silk, 1900.<br>$15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Aristide Bruant dans son Cabaret</i>, 1893. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26: Alphonse Mucha & Masters of Art Nouveau: The Harry C. Meyerhoff Collection</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Monaco / Monte-Carlo</i>, 1897. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Medee / Sarah Bernhardt</i>, 1898. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 26:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Confetti</i>, 1894. $40,000 to $60,000.
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant
  • <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> <i>The First American Magna Carta. English Liberties.</i> Boston, 1721.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Babbage presentation to Peel, the man who killed the Difference Engine 1832
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Stamp Act. 1765
    <b>Now in press: 19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Central Park Photographs by Prevost 1862
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Salem Witch Trials. Wonders of the Invisible World 1693
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Mammoth print of Millie-Christine, "The Carolina Twins" c. 1868

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>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Cassilly Adams, Civil War era watercolor on paper painting of the navy vessel upon which he was stationed: the U.S.S. Osage. $3,000 – 5,000
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Audubon, John James and John Bachman, <i>The Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: V.G. Audubon, 1854. 3 volumes. $2,400 – 3,400
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Roulstone, George. <i>LAWS OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE.</i> Printed and published by George Roulstone, Knoxville, (Tennessee), 1803. $2,000 – 3,000
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Heap, Gwin Harris. <i>CENTRAL ROUTE TO THE PACIFIC, FROM THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI TO CALIFORNIA…</i> Philadelphia/London, 1854.<br>$1,800 – 2,200
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> FDR’s personal copy of <i>The Great Smoky Mountains"</i> by Laura Thornborough. Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, 1937.<br>$1,500 – 1,800
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Latour, Arsene Lacarriere. <i>HISTORICAL MEMOIR OF THE WAR IN WEST FLORIDA AND LOUISIANA IN 1814 – 1815. WITH AN ATLAS.</i> Philadelphia, 1816.<br>$1,200 – 1,500
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> [Kennedy Autograph Signature] Kennedy, John F. <i>Profiles in Courage.</i> New York Harper & Brothers, (1956).<br>$1,200 – 1,500
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Sam Houston signed land document, granting Elias Riddle 100 acres in Bledsoe County, Tennessee "in the grassy cove…" dated February 22, 1828.<br>$1,000 – 1,200
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> "The State of Kentucky with Adjoining Territories" Map, by John Payne, engraved by John Scoles, published by John Low, New York, 1800. $500 – 700
    <b>Case Antiques: Winter Art and Antiques Auction. January 21, 2017</b>
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> Civil War era letter and 4 carte de visites, including Confederate Generals. $300 – 500
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> 12 Bank of East Tennessee Pre Civil War Bills. $350 – 450
    <b>Case Antiques Jan. 21:</b> 2 Early Homeopathy books by Alva Curtis. $300 – 400
  • <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton's Appointment as Aide-De-Camp to General George Washington. $150,000 – 250,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Correspondence about his reputation as a soldier and a gentleman nearly provoking a duel, 1779. $100,000 -150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. The earliest surviving love letter from Hamilton to his future wife Elizabeth Schuyler. $40,000 – 60,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter signed to Elizabeth Schuyler; a love letter that also announces the arrival of French General Rochambeau. $15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter to Elizabeth Schuyler, announcing the treason of Benedict Arnold. $35,000 – 50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter signed to Elizabeth Hamilton, announcing that the army is preparing to engage Cornwallis in Virginia. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter draft to John Jay, concerning his lawsuit against Lewis Littlepage and Henry Brockholst Livingston. $10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph notes prepared for President Washington's third annual message to congress. $15,000 – 25,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. A prevously unrecorded autograph draft of Pacificus essay no. VI.<br>$300,000 – 500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York: Alexander Hamilton: An Important Family Archive of Letters and Manuscripts. January 18, 2017</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Autograph letter draft to an unnamed recipient (but possibly Jeremiah Wadsworth), regarding the presidential election of 1796. $25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b><br>Philip Hamilton. Autograph letter signed to his father, Alexander Hamilton, ("Dear Papa"), discussing his schooling and his desire to be "a good man." $8,000 – 12,000
    <b>Sotheby’s New York Jan 18:</b> Alexander Hamilton. Two autograph memoranda, one with a diagram, planning the gardens at the grange. $15,000 – 25,000
  • <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>SAXTON, Christopher. <i>The Travellers Guide being the best Mapp of the Kingdom of England and Principality of Wales</i>. London, [1583, but c.1716].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>VISSCHER, Claes Jansz. <i>Novissima et Accuratissima Leonis Belgici</i>. Amsterdam, Claes Jansz Visscher, [1611-1621 or later].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Decima Asie Tabula</i>. Ulm, Lienhart Holle, 16 July 1482.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>WIT, Frederick de, and Gerard VALK. <i>Orbis Terrarum Nova et Accurata Tabula</i>. Amsterdam, Gerard Valk, [c.1690-1700].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Astronomicum Caesareum</i>. Ingolstadt, Peter Apian, 1540.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>CASSINI, Jean-Dominique. <i>Carte de la Lune</i>. Paris, Jean-Dominique Cassini, 1787.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius. <i>Geographicae enarrationis libri octo</i>. Argentoragi, 1525.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>[SAXTON, Christopher]. <i> [An Atlas of England and Wales]</i>. [London, Christopher Saxton, 1579].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> Commission des sciences et arts d'Egypte. <i>Description de l’Égypte</i>… Paris, Imprimerie impériale - Imprimerie royale, 1809-1828.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b> CHURCHMAN, John. <i>To George Washington President of the United States of America this Magnetic Atlas or Variation Chart is humbly inscribed by John Churchman</i>. Philadelphia, 1790.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>APIANUS, Petrus. <i>Tipus Orbis Universalis</i>. Vienna, Johannes Camertius, 1520.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LORIOT, A[uguste], [after] Nicolas LANE. <i>[Pocket globe]</i>. London, 65 New Bond Street, 1809.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>BLAEU, Johannes. <i>Grooten Atlas</i>. Amsterdam, Joan Blaeu, 1662-1665.
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>INGEBORG BRUN, Emmy. <i>Mars efter Lowell’s Glober 1894-1914</i>. Denmark, [c1915].
    <b>Daniel Crouch Rare Books</b><br>LUTHER, Martin. <i>Der vierde Teil aller Bücher vnd Schrifften des thewren seligen Mans</i>. Gedruckt zu Jhena, Durch Christian Rödinger, 1556.
  • <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie.</i> Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1916.<br>$80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in English, Signed Integrally ("Isaac Newton"). $50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life</i>. London: John Murray, 1859. $25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. <i>The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.</i> London: Benjamin Motte, 1729.<br>$20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEISENBERG, WERNER. Autograph Manuscript entitled "<i>Entwicklung der Theorie der Elementarteilche,</i>” [1964].<br>$15,000 – 25,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> BERNOULLI, DANIEL. <i>Hydrodynamica, sive De viribus et motibus fluidorum commentarii.</i> Strasbourg: Johann Heinrich Decker for Johann Reinhold Dulsecker, 1738. $5,000 – 7,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> [TARKOVSKY, ANDREI ARSENIEVICH.] STRUGATSKY, BORIS AND ARKADY. Typed Manuscript for <i>Stalker</i>, being the director's working script, 1977. $150,000 – 200,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. Typed Manuscript of "Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Letter," n.p., [1933]. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> SALINGER, JEROME DAVID. 4 Autograph Letters, 2 of which Signed ("Jerry") and 6 Typed Letters, 2 of which Initialed ("J"). $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> PASTERNAK, BORIS LEONIDOVICH. Typed Manuscript Carbon, "Doktor Zhivago," with some typed corrections, Moscow, 1948. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> MILNE, ALAN ALEXANDER. Autograph Manuscript Signed 3 times ("A.A. Milne"), entitled "Peace with Honour: An Enquiry into the War Convention," 1934.<br>$30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Robert Frost"), titled "Gold for Christmas," 1952. $15,000 – 20,000

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