Auction Update Review
The Week ending November 6th, 2010
Eighteen Sales Archived
The pace of auctions hammering down last lots and reporting results is picking up. Together 8,719 lots were offered and 6,148 sold in this most resent report. Seven sales exceeded their aggregate high estimate and altogether the 18 sales achieved 88% of their high estimate. It suggests intensifying interest. Alde not only provided two of these seven sales, they also provided the highest average selling price per lot: $13,397 for their sale of "Three Collections" on November 3rd. It was, by whisker, higher than the $13,375 average Sotheby's achieved for its "Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History" in London on November 4th.
The percentage of lots sold across all auctions was 70.5%, a number within the normal range of experience for all auctions in the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera fields together over the past decade. Auctions tend to sell 70% to 75% through thick and thin. When the percentage of lots selling drops below 70% estimates tend to come down. When sales rise above 75% new consignors are attracted to consign but bring with them demands for higher reserves. This in turn brings the percentage of lots back down. It's a tortured process that seen from a distance looks more orderly than it really is; hash rather than roast beef.
Through the downturn and now into the nascent recovery auctions are providing transparency as to the state of the market. It's encouraging and seems to foretell a trend for book dealers to move into the auction medium a la the French experience specifically and the European experience generally. In Europe dealers are increasingly running their own auctions. Internet visibility is making it possible.
As for sales $11.4 million changed hands.