In a few days Waverly will be holding a Rare Books with Maps & Atlases sale. These are interesting events, a combination of serious descriptions and low estimates. Among the 461 lots there are various categories: The Medieval Literature Collection of Steven S. Evans [lots 1-34]; Children’s Books 35-84; Maps, Atlases & Views 85-128; Autographs 129-194; Fine Bindings 195-208; First Editions 209-258, Americana 259-307; Varia 308-420; and Illustrated Books 421-461. Auction houses have trouble these days getting the right balance of material, description and estimates. This sale looks right to me.
The estimates are low. Do not expect to get the better lots within the estimates. There is a growing school of thought that the audience will understand the actual value, which may be quite a bit higher than the high estimate. Maybe yes, maybe no. So to bid in this sale look at the auction records. They’ll tell you where the lots will likely land.
Many lots are complex, that is they contain more than one item and sometimes quite a few. Retail bidders often shun such lots but they often represent some of the best values. Look carefully at them.
Looking at the sale overall the categories of material are diverse, the polar opposite of the specialist sales that typically command a premium. The material in this sale may well equal what’s offered in specialist sales but because the range is broader both estimates and realizations tend to be lower. This suggests there will be some opportunities.
The general sales are fewer these days but continue to be important. The headlines tend to scream millions but the reality is that hundreds of thousands of very good books will cause barely a ripple in the public’s awareness as they pass through the rooms. That suggests there will be some bargains. There always are.
Whatever your view, if the sale is of interest you’ll need to move quickly. The sale is on December 3rd.
Here is a link to the sale: Catalog #267: 12-3-2015