Auction Update Review


The Flurry before Summer

Fifteen sales were archived, 7,186 lots offered and 4,243 lots sold.  Auction houses have been selling 70% + this spring so this counts as a tough week.  It’s not unexpected however.  The auction market, heading into summer, is already thinking about fall and beginning to look past the summer doldrums which may be setting in early.   What with default prospects in Greece back in the headlines and unemployment rates in the United States back over 9% its easy to imagine that bibliophiles could be distracted.  Total turnover was substantial - $14 million.  Had a higher percentage of lots sold $17 million could easily have changed hands.  It turns out the auctions, even on an off week, are robust.


Behind the numbers there is evidence of what many in the trade have been saying for sometime:  expensive material is selling and less expensive material is not.  That’s in line with this week’s results – total sales approaching the aggregate high estimate of all lots offered while only 59% of all lots sold.  The desirable, rare and exceptionally valuable changed hands while the lesser lights did less well.


No single week provides more than anecdotal information however.  In the auction field it takes three months to confirm which way the wind is blowing.


Of the 15 sales archived only three reached or exceeded 100% of their aggregate high estimates.


Bonhams.  Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs on June 7th – 181%,


Sotheby’s.  Music and Continental Books and Manuscripts on June 8th – 120%,


Galerie Bassange.  15th – 19th Century Prints on May 26th, 100%


These houses are doing consistently well.


For the week ahead 15 sales are scheduled:


Monday June 13th                 Christie’s.  Books

Wednesday June 15th          Christie’s.  Vintage Film Posters

                                                Dominic Winter.  Printed Books and Maps

Thursday June 16th              Dominic Winter.  Children’s and Illustrated Books

PBA Galleries.  Fine Literature, Illustrated and Children’s Books

Friday June 17th                   Kiefer – Buch – und Kunstauktionen.  Books [77a]

Le Libraure Alain Ferraton.  Ancient & Modern Books – Drawings & Prints – first vacation

                                                Sotheby’s.  Fine Books and Manuscripts

                                                The Romantic Agony.  Books

Saturday June 18th               Coutau-Begarie.  Comics

                                                Kiefer – Buch – und Kunstauktionen.   Books [77b]

                                                Kiefer – Buch – und Kunstauktionen.   Books [77c]

Le Libraire Alain Ferraton.  Ancient & Modern Books – Drawings & Prints – first vacation

                                                The Romantic Agony.  Books

Sunday June 19th                  Bonhams.  Sunset Estates – Books and Manuscripts


Even into the inevitable summer slowdown the pace of auctions continue to be brisk.


Bruce McKinney


June 12th, 2011

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.