Auction Update Review


Sometimes it Rains in June

Auctions have a rhythm and their patterns change.  Over the past one hundred years the auction market for printed materials has closely followed the economic climate.  In the ten year run-up to the depression the business in rare books was spectacular, when the bubble burst the decline long and painful.  Books are an aphrodisiac whose appeal will not wane but their prices do adjust.  As the auctions archived this week suggest buyers are hanging back a bit.  Perhaps it is the uncertainty in Greece or the speculation in Washington that Tea Partiers will cause an American Government debt default by blocking an increase in the debt ceiling.  Whatever the causes declining prices of collectible books are not the culprits.   They are simply some of the hostages.  In effect the purchasing power of money is increasing and this is visible in the free-for–all in the auction rooms.  It’s taking fewer British pounds, Euros and dollars to buy desirable books.   We are lucky for the clarity that auctions are providing.      


This was Bub Kuyper week.  Of the twelve sales recently archived half of them were Bub Kuyper’s sales.  They are auctioneers of books, manuscripts, prints and drawings and are located in the Netherlands.  They offered 5,695 lots and sold 3,572 of them.  Over four consecutive days, May 24th to May 27th, they offered more material than the majority of auction houses post in a year.  On the American side such large sales anymore are never encountered.  In the United States auction houses invariably carefully parse the lots and descriptions and calibrate them to the limited attention span of the book collecting public.  This approach tends to provide comfortable results but the spectrum on offer is deceptively narrow.  The Bub Kuyper results, which cover an extensive range, should remind all that one of the crucial aspects of auctions is to broadly re-price material as taste and economic circumstances change. 


By providing a broad cross-section,  they afford the opportunity for an honest appraisal and it suggests the field continues to be in flux with a negative bias.  If not for auction houses rendering this essential service the market could be seriously mislead by the prices posted on listing sites.  Auctions adjust while for the most part listings on listing sites don’t and the difference is increasing.


We are in the midst of a significant shift that is quite visible in Europe.  The ability and willingness of the American auction market to handle a comparable re-pricing of middle market material will be very important. 


For the first time in a while there are no reported auctions this week that reached 100% of their aggregate high estimates.


For the week ahead the following sales are scheduled:


Monday June 20th                Dorotheum.  Books and Decorative Prints;


Tuesday June 21st                Piasa.  Manuscripts – Second Vacation;

Wednesday June 22nd         Bloomsbury.  Vintage Posters;

                                                Bonhams.  Fine Books and Manuscripts;

                                                Bonhams.  20th Century Illustration Art;

Thursday June 23rd             Antiquarian Auctions – ZA.  Rare Books;

                                                Christie’s.  Books and Manuscripts;

                                                Cowan’s Auctions.  American History

Friday June 24th                   Ader. Music and Movie Pictures - 4th part;

                                                Alde.  Autographs and Manuscripts;

                                                Galerie Koller.  Modern Prints;

Saturday June 25th               Heritage.  2011 June Dallas Signature Arms and Militaria Auction;

                                                Neal Auction Company.  Summer Estates Auction with an important collection of Natural History and Historical Prints and Maps – Day 1;

Sunday June 26th                 Bruun Rasmussen.  Books;

                                                Bruun Rasmussen.  Hans Christian Anderson

                                                National Book.  Books and Ephemera – Illustrators, Children, Americana;       

                                                Neal Auction Company.  Summer Estates Auction with an important collection of Natural History and Historical Prints and Maps – Day 2.


All in all a busy week ahead.


Bruce McKinney


  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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 Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750