Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2005 Issue

The Snider Sale of Important Americana Meets High Expectations


The Hayden & Moran sold for $374,400.

Also of note in this auction were 24 items purchased in the Siebert sales at Sotheby's in 1999 and offered here again. Twenty-two identical lots sold for an aggregate increase of 58% above what they brought just six years ago. Another lot in Siebert, McCoy's "The Annual Register of Indian Affairs..." was combined with other material and has been ignored for this comparison. One lot, Drips' "Three Years Among the Indians in Dakota," did not sell. In 1999 they earned their sellers $649,524. On June 21st they brought $1,030,920. Approaching the millennium it was, more than any other events, the Siebert sales which unleashed a rapid increase in prices. Six years later we have definitive confirmation that the substantial increase in value of important material, that the Siebert sales ushered in, continues to be reflected in the toughest to satisfy marketplace - the auction rooms.[Comparison of Siebert realizations]

The 58 unsold items comprised 16.7% of lots but only 9% of the aggregate high and low estimates so these items were known by Snider and Christies as their less expensive material. Nevertheless, even with lower estimates, many cheaper items failed to find buyers. The material AE identified as available on ABE generally did not do as well in the sale, perhaps an omen for other auction houses who continue to estimate material that is available on listing sites at levels above online prices. Buyers increasingly understand that extensive resources are available for evaluating value. Of the 11 auction items identified as "available" on ABE two failed to sell and the other 9 items realized 89% of the high estimate. By comparison, Siebert material that sold realized 117.6% of the high estimate. It's too early to read anything into these numbers but logically auction buyers will increasingly look at non-auction alternatives, be they dealer catalogues or online listings, for a comparison to auction estimates. [Chart of Snyder/Abe Items]

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