Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2007 Issue

In New York the Red Coats are Coming: Again

Balogo

New York's newest Auction House


By Bruce McKinney

Bloomsbury, the English auction house that specializes in works on paper, has announced it's opening in New York in September. It will be located at 6 West 48th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues near Rockefeller Center. They come into New York with a clear plan and strategy. They intend, in time, to offer 20 sales a year in three distinct price ranges: entry level or bibliophile and priced from $100 to $300 and up, serious books in the middle range of valuation, and exceptional material of high value. Bloomsbury's London location, by lot volume, is the leading auction house in the category today and New York their third location. They opened in Rome this past year.

According to Bloomsbury's chairman Tommaso Zanzotto and AE's own tracking of all documented book, manuscript and ephemera lots sold via traditional auction, Bloomsbury had the single busiest auction site, by lot volume, in 2006. In that year it offered 17,044 lots up from 14,839 in 2005 and 11,788 in 2004. Christies, in four locations, offered 19,284 lots in 2006 and Sotheby's, in five locations, 10,758. Swann Galleries dominated, by lot volume, the New York auction market, offering 11,788 lots in 2006. Sotheby's and Christies have long dominated book auctions at the high end but have continued to increase minimum consignment value thus opening the market to enterprising specialists.

Bonhams entered the New York market in 2005 adding to its array of European and American rooms. Now Bloomsbury's entry brings to four the number of English houses competing in New York. Swann is the only exclusively American entry in a five horse race.

Mr. Zanzotto describes the New York location as supported by individuals of exceptional talent. Rupert Powell, Managing Director, is based in England while in New York, Tom Lamb, who served in several executive capacities at Christies, is Resident Manager. Richard Austin, who worked both at Butterfield's and Christie's, will manage bibliophile and literature sales. Jeremy Markowitz, who will manage manuscripts and Americana, and Richard Austin are the first of several specialists to be named. Stephen Massey has been retained as senior consultant. "To do this business we must have the confidence and trust of our clients." This level of hiring suggests they mean it.

The firm is currently redesigning its literature and has reaffirmed its commitment to the printed catalogue even as it expands its electronic presence. "We intend for our presentations to be clear, illuminating and insightful - understandable and accessible to all, be they the newest collector or the most experienced dealer."

The schedule of events for the fall is taking shape. An inaugural sale of Important Printed Books and Manuscripts on September 26th begins the season, to be followed closely by a series of specialist book sales including Americana, English Literature, Travel and Colour Plate Books, Illustrated and Children's Books. By the end of December the firm hopes to have conducted 4 and perhaps 5 fall sales. A prints and photographs department will open in 2008.

Consignments are being accepted. Until the office opens officially contact the firm by email: newyork@bloomsburyauctions.com. Here is a link to their website: www.bloomsburyauctions.com

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <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>

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