Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2005 Issue

Energy in the Auction Rooms

Feba1

Bidders felt good at this sale. The value of their inventory was confirmed.


By Bruce McKinney

On February 10th, 16th and 18th interesting book auctions were held in New York at Swann, and in San Francisco by Dorothy Sloan and at John's Western Gallery. Both the Swann and Sloan sales did well while the Gilchriese presentation at John's found buying interest to be as narrow as the Gilchriese collecting focus: Wyatt Earp manuscript and memorabilia. At Swann the material was the remainder of a large Americana consignment and at Sloan it was actually two sales. The first was No. 14, Americana with an Emphasis on Borderlands, Texas, California, Mexico & Central America. The second, No. 15, was the Daniel G. Volkmann, Jr. collection of Californiana. In these sales a substantial portion of the lots sold: clear evidence of broad strength in the marketplace.

At Swann the material was mainly mid-market. It was a combination of lesser known items combined with better known material with occasional condition problems. The estimates were relatively low and almost everything sold. Of 358 lots 324 sold. There has been plenty of talk that the market for important, essentially perfect material is almost unlimited while the middle-market is less certain. At Swann's on the 10th there were plenty of buyers to bid and almost everything, at a price, sold. In the mid-market the variable isn't interest. It's price. The total hammer price was $227,460 and the average lot realization an affordable $702.

Susannah Carter's Frugal Housewife, or Complete Woman Cook brought $9,775 against an estimate of $3,000 to $4,000. The engraving on silk of the Declaration of Independence [1818] brought $21,850 against the estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. And for the person who purchased the 1753 Poor Richard's Almanack they won't need to wait for Poor Richard's predictions of book prices. Against an estimate of $7,000 to $10,000 it brought $19,550.

In the first Sloan sale [No. 14] there were 64 lots of which 48 sold at the auction. During the following two days several more were sold at the low estimate plus 15% commission. Several bidders, who left order bids that failed to win, later converted their unspent funds into purchases of unsold lots. Twelve lots sold at the low estimate and another 12 remain unsold but available. The average hammer price was $4,870.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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