Auction Update Review
All spring auctions have been delivering results that bode well for a rebound in sales and increase the likelihood of rising prices. The market is firming and this week the results provided more evidence. The numbers tell the story. Five sales, between March 10th and March 17th, one in the United States, one in England, three in mainland Europe. The material was diverse but the outcomes similar. Three houses realized more than 100% of their aggregate high estimates while Bloomsbury realized 82%. Material is being appropriately estimated and it is selling. All the sales together realized 103% of their total high estimates. This said, I acknowledge that total sales were relatively small - $925,076 or about one page of the Naismith document sold by Sotheby’s this past December. The simple truth is that old and rare books, like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, is the total of many parts and most of the pieces in Books, Manuscripts, Maps and Ephemera are small. Splashed across the New York Times and Wall Street Journal may be stories and references to very important books but the real world of antiquarian material is composed mainly of old and interesting material that is more likely to break hearts [if missed] than budgets. This material transacts everyday for reasons of all kinds. The health of the field is established here and the gathering evidence is that books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera are doing fine.
So whether you are a buyer, seller or observer take heart. This is the closest thing to a clear view of the heart we have and the beat is strong.