Auction Update Review
This past week 18 eighteen auctions were archived in the AED, seven denominated in dollars, two in British Pounds and nine in Euros. Seven thousand and sixty-eight lots were offered and 5,233 sold for a 74% sell-through. Total sales were $9,134,601, 70% of the aggregate high estimate for all lots offered. Two thousand and eleven continues to be the busiest year by lots in the history of the books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera auction field. No one really knows what this means for the future of the field but every week auctions large and small, denominated in a variety of currencies, continue to post more sales. They don’t always work but they continue to condition the market to expect more auctions. Together they are changing the way collectible printed material is sold. At the same time there are ever more consignors with large quantities of material and something between tepid interest and outright commitments to sell.
To some extent the increasing volume of auctions is simply the outcome of better reporting. There have always been more auctions than auction reports but today a higher percentage of sales are reported. The situation today where there are so many more sales is certainly the sum of two flows, more houses selling and most houses selling more. In the past even important sales went unreported in the auction records. Today most sales make it into the records.
The higher lot volume will potentially lower prices but if this happens it will simply be the orderly adjustment between bid and ask. Increasing quantity always lowers prices. The important variable on the other side is the number of buyers and as I have been saying for almost ten years this is the critical variable around which all vested interests need to come together. Nothing in the field works without new collectors but there is precious little evidence of successful strategies to induce/seduce buyers into the field. The material is as appealing as the lack of concerted strategies is appalling.
Increasing auction volume will entice new interest but some of it simply be poaching from listing sites and dealers. Anecdotal information shared by members on AE suggests a combination of new collectors and shifting buying orientation. It’s certainly an extraordinary moment to be a collector.
For the 18 sales archived 7,068 lots were offered and 5,233 sold. The turn-over was $9,134,601.
Five sales reached or exceeded 100% of the aggregate high estimate of all lots offered
Dorotheum on June 20th: Books and Decorative Prints – 293%,
Bruun Rasmussen on June 26th. Books – 113%,
Alde on June 24th. Autographs and Manuscripts – 112%,
Romantic Agony on June 17th. Books – 106%,
Bonhams on June 28th. Books, Maps and Manuscripts – 102%
For the week ahead five sales are scheduled:
Christies on July 6th. The Arcana Collection: Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts Part III;
Neret – Minet & Tessier on July 6th. Comic Strip Albums;
Bloomsbury Auctions on July 7th. Bibliophile (Godalming);
Christie’s on July 7th. Old Master Prints; 
Christie’s on July 7th. Old Master Prints 
The summer quiet, as reflected in the auction calendar, is finally upon us.