Auction Update Review
For the week ending Saturday December 4th 18 auctions were archived: 5 in dollars, 6 in Euros, 6 in British Pounds, and 1 in Mexican Pesos. Sales of six of the events exceeded their aggregate high estimate. Four others achieved more than 90%. In New York Bonham's sold the American Experience collection on the 2nd and Christie's Books and Manuscripts on the 3rd for a total, between them, of $10,593,533. For all sales reported this week 6,309 lots were offered and 4,726 sold for a 74.9% success rate. Against the aggregate high estimate of $26.3 million $22.8 was realized for an overall percentage of high estimate of 87%. Evidence continues to mount that auction houses are lowering estimates to encourage bidding to re-establish valuation. That process is well underway.
In New York on the 3th Christie's Books & Manuscripts sale made $6.52 million against its aggregate high estimate of $6.46 [101%]. Lot 32, a 1784 map of America by Buell estimated at $500,000 to $700,000 brought $2,098,500 and made the sale a significant success.
The American Experience sale at Bonham's on the 2nd was entirely unreserved, a rare occurrence in the rare book field for a highly important sale. Source, year purchased and price paid were provided for almost every item thus allowing for assessment of both the material and the market overall. Every item sold and every person seemed to interpret the results differently. The collection, which was built between 1991 and 2001, raised $4,056,000 against a cost of $3.34 million. Net of commissions the sale made a $100,000 gain. Valuations in the book, manuscript, map and ephemera markets have fallen about 20% over the past three years after experiencing steady increases for decades. This sale earned 21% more than its cost before deduction of auction house commissions and 3% after. The consignor [myself] believes that an exceptional catalogue, extensive publicity and extended payment terms were factors in the outcome. An in depth analysis of the sale will be posted in the January issue of AE Monthly.