Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2015 Issue

The Auction Season Begins – Here's How to Search Them All

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Matches from a recent "Twain" search.

Fall is almost upon us, and this is the busiest time of year for auctions in the books and paper field. Over the next four months, we can expect to match or exceed last year's total of 165,000 lots offered. There will be many bargains, and there will also be occasions when a couple of competing bidders get carried away. Some very rare items will appear that you will never see again. As the season progresses, there will be times when as many as a dozen auctions take place on a single day. It is busy and exciting, but how do you find what you want amidst all the noise?

 

That's where the Rare Book Hub comes in. If you look at the top of this and most pages on this site, you will see a search box. Chances are, it says "Upcoming Auctions" to the left. If not, click the little arrow next to it and it will let you select "Upcoming Auctions" for the search.

 

Next, simply enter one or more keywords in the box and click "search." That's it! The more keywords you enter, the more targeted your search will be. If you want to see all lots pertaining to Mark Twain, entering "Twain" will suffice. If you only want Twain items pertaining to Huckleberry Finn, enter "Twain" and "Huckleberry" (or "Finn"). The search engine will find all listings that contain both of those words somewhere in the lot description, be it author, title, description, or other field. Use the minimum number of terms possible (one if you can) so you don't miss lots where a title has been shortened, or the auction house abbreviated some words.

 

The search takes only a fraction of a second to complete. You will be taken to a page that shows you all matches (click the image above to see one). It also provides a brief summary of key information about each lot, including author, title, year published, auction house, sale date and estimated price. You can then click the book's title to see the complete lot description. Alternatively, you can click the small rectangle after the title if you want to bring up the complete description in a separate tab/window. This way you can keep multiple lots open on your screen at the same time. If you see a small camera icon next to the title, it means that this listing contains an image.

 

What the Rare Book Hub search does is to search lots currently offered at over 150 auction houses around the world. Naturally, only some have auctions running at any given time, but that many houses offer books and paper at various times. To bid on an item, you will need to go to the individual auction house's website, and links are provided with each lot description. Virtually all auction houses now offer online and/or telephone bidding. The Rare Book Hub works like a Google search – helps you find what is available and then provides the link to take you there.

 

Once you have conducted an auction search, you will see two blue "records found" numbers just below the search box. One is for the Rare Book Transaction History, the other for Books for Sale. While looking for auction listings, the site is conducting two other searches in the background. These links will lead you to those results. Books for Sale is a database of listings from booksellers, matched by the same search criteria. Check them out. You may well find items more on target for what you seek being offered by a bookseller. The other is a link to listings in the Rare Book Transaction History, a database of over 5.8 million records, mostly priced auction records from the recent and distant past. Access to the transaction history requires a paid membership (at any level). Click the "Become a Member" link near the top right of the page to sign up. Access to the Upcoming Auctions and Books for Sale databases do not require membership. Access is free.

 

One other feature you will see, just above the list of matches, is a tab that says "Track this Record." This is an electronic notepad that lets you keep track of listings of interest. Select the items you want to remember (click the little box along the left edge of the listing) and click "Track this Record." The listing is saved. If it is an auction listing, the selling price will be posted to your saved record once the results are in. The little "?" (question mark) to the right of the "Track this Record" button tells you where to find these records. Since this is saving information specifically for you, naturally you will need to have an account and be logged in. However, there is no charge for this service either, so you can sign up for a free account as well as a paid one to use "Track this Record."

 

One final thought – come back here often to look for new listings. New ones will pop up most days of the week. Some auction houses only post lots a few days before a sale, so if you wait too long to return, you may miss the lot you have been seeking for years. You can expect momentum to rise through September and then continue at a very high pace until the middle of December, when most houses slow down for the holidays.

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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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