Auction Update August 2, 2009
Only about a thousand people in total, worldwide, comprise the community of active book and manuscript auction bidders. These bidders are divided by continent, language and interests into small groups. Tens of thousands of auction catalogues are issued but bidding concentrated in the hands of a few. Traditional auctions dominate these sales while Ebay makes the ephemera market.
The relationship between auctions and the trade has been ever more quickly evolving. Auctions, traditionally the wholesale market, since 1980, have evolved into an important part of retail. For auction houses the logic is obvious. Retail prices are higher than auction realizations. In the current downturn however auction prices are leading the market lower suggesting one of two possibilities. The first is that the market was over-priced and is returning to lower more sustainable levels. The other is that the market is taking a short-lived hit and will rebound. The first view is almost certainly correct but inflation may eventually make the second also seem true.
This week three auctions have been archived: Auction Explorer, the internet based auction, Gallery at Knotty Pine and Leslie Hindman.
In viewing these and future unfolding outcomes week by week, you are witnessing a bit of history and are in fact a part of it. In the years to come the very process of viewing auctions as a unified whole will long since have been taken for granted. But, for today, you are one of the first two hundred to be receiving these weekly reports, one of the fabled early adapters who stepped into the future.