Auction Update Review
The Week ending July 24th
Just as the auction business is rolling up the awnings and heading for summer vacations we are reminded that the mosaic of auctions that together comprise the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera cash market will not be defined or categorized by anyone but bidders. Five auctions: Piasa, Dominic Winter, Australian Book, Pacific Book Auctions, and National Book combined for an exceptional 85% sales rate in the most recent report; their individual rates 88.61%, 78.35%, 85.56%, 71.69% and 100%. These sales took place in Italy, England, Australia and on the US east and west coasts. This week extends the recovery trend that just a few weeks back looked uncertain. With all auctions through June 30th priced and now consigned to history we have updated the three trend graphs for month by month change in median auction lot price, year to year change in the 12 month moving average, and 12 month moving average of the sell-through rate. Taken together these graphs present an optimistic picture; the trend line for median lot value particularly encouraging. Average lot selling price, which after August 2008 was steadily weaker into mid-2009 has now substantially recovered the August 2008 levels. Median selling prices remain low but look to be building a base.
Whether the material or the market is better is less certain. During the first year of the downturn there was some deterioration in the quality offered. Anecdotally, the quality is picking up. Dealers, institutions and collectors never lost interest in exceptional material. These days they look everywhere and will bid anywhere.
As a side note to those who subscribe for the AED we have added 100,040 records over the past 30 days. We cover auctions worldwide to the extent the material is well described and the houses willing to provide a record of realizations and unsold lots in a timely manner. We are also now building a bridge of results back into the 19th century. This past month only about 10,000 new lots passed through the rooms. The balance of the material we added is for Sotheby's sales conducted between 1980 and 1995. We have 1.3 million other records currently under review. Month by month as we complete our review they will enter the AED: our goal - five million records and a seamless record of material at auction back to 1850.
Click on the Trend Charts link to review the revised charts.