December Auctions <br>Lost in the Moment
By Bruce McKinney
The December book auctions offer this year, as in past years, an extraordinary array of books, manuscripts and ephemera for the collector to reward him or herself with something for the holidays. Twenty-four sales are scheduled in the United States and Europe offering, in total, more than 14,000 lots. Thirteen of them are at Sotheby's and Christies. The hammer prices will fall in the range of $50 to $1.0 million. Somewhere between these two numbers you should be able to find something to pursue, if not actually acquire. If you want to buy every lot expect to pay at least $25 million or if you want to spend this much without having to handle so much material simply wait for the next Gutenberg Bible. It's going to bring $30 million although I don't know when.
As you read this the curtain will be falling on Old World Auctions' sale of maps #109. The sale concludes on the 1st. Use our auction keyword search at the top of this page to identify material of potential personal interest in this and all other upcoming posted auctions. There are 818 lots. If you don't read this until December 2nd don't despair. No auction house succeeds in selling every lot in every sale. If you find something of interest contact them. It may be unsold and available at an attractive price.
On the 2nd there are 6 sales. PBA offers an angling library and other sporting material. Swann offers early printed and medicine & science books. Eldred offers ephemera. Christie's has 20th century books and manuscripts as well as a collection of material relating to Napoleon. Sotheby's is selling original oil portraits of Indians by George Catlin and, at a separate sale, important baseball memorabilia. If you plan to use your lottery winnings to pay for all you buy make sure you take the lump sum payment. You'll need it. A few Catlin portraits would brighten up any Americana collection and the kid in every grown man would like to have something from the golden age of baseball.
On the 3rd Sotheby's is holding three sales: fine books and manuscripts including Americana and Judaica, highly important manuscripts of Sir Isaac Newton and property from the library of the late Mrs. Insley Blair. The Newton material looks particularly interesting. There is also a Poughkeepsie item. This is a personal weakness. It's a Clement Moore autograph transcript of "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" estimated at $200,000 to $300,000. The connection to Poughkeepsie is circumstantial. We'll see. The question of the day will be: can the Newton manuscripts defy gravity? These items are expensive but undoubtedly exceptional and they may not be seen again.