Auction Update Review
The month of August has come and gone and left evidence that the book, manuscript and ephemera market is finding its footing in the auction rooms. It is not the market it was a year ago whether you collect stamps, coins, books or paintings. They have all come down as auction houses have wrestled with consignors to bring estimates into range with buyer interest and financial capability.
The auctions continue to offer more certain liquidity than other selling alternatives and have been rewarded with a surge in listings. During previous Augusts we have tracked [from 2004 to 2008] the total lots offered averaged 3,261. In the August just completed that number jumped to 5,653.
The average August realization fell to $541, the lowest in the six years we have been analyzing outcomes. The average August realization during the entire 2004-2008 period was $656.
During the same period, 2004-2008, August auctions achieved a 76.2% rate of sell-through. In the August just past 69.5% sold. When US$ denominated sales are separated from all sales in other currencies it becomes clear the dollar denominated market is notably weaker. US$ denominated lots sold 64.3% of the time, all other lots sold at a 74% rate.
Heading into fall year over year comparisons will probably improve if for no other reason than that comparisons will be to the first four months, September to December, of the current recession.
September 6, 2009