Auction Update Review
If there were put and call options on rare books the premiums would be high. Just as in the stock markets uncertainty is rampant. At the same moment you could buy Apple Computer [stock symbol aapl] for $377.50 this past Friday you could also sell a put [the right for someone to sell their stock to you at any price under $380 anytime during the coming week for $8.50. Most of the time such premiums are small reflecting confidence and stability. Not so today and books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera seem to be reflecting some of this mentality.
There are two cash markets for the field, auctions that are open and generally transparent, and material listed in catalogues, on individual seller and the various mega-listing sites that may be sold for the asking prices or something less. The dealer market is difficult to analyze but the auction market is very visible. For the eight auctions archived this week 74% of the lots sold but achieved only 69% of the aggregate high estimate for all lots offered. In strong weeks the market approaches 100%. This suggests that bidding is a bit thinner than it has been the past 18 months, a fact that may reflect seasonality or the mix of material offered rather than any trend. One week never provides enough data to reach definitive conclusions.
Whatever the reasons material and estimates in many upcoming auctions is interesting enough to warrant attention. Whether this reflects adjusting reserves and better material is unclear but for the second month in a row I’ll be bidding.
For the eight auctions archived this week two are in British pounds, one in Euros, three in dollars and two in Mexican Pesos. Two thousand two hundred and eight-six lots were offered and 1,696 sold. The aggregate low and high estimates for material selling was $799,654 and $1,175,424. Total sales were $1,156,363, the aggregate high estimate $1,664,510.
Net, better material and the possibility of marginally lower prices are bringing me back into the rooms. I regularly buy from dealers, often but not always on a negotiated basis and that is a steady component of any collector’s strategy. Going into fall it feels like the opportunities both from dealers and in the auctions will be interesting. Whether the economy is a drag on sales remains to be seen.
For the reporting period one sale reached 100% of its aggregate high estimate:
Bruun Rasmussen: Books. 107%
For the week ahead 11 sales are scheduled:
Monday September 12th
Dorotheum: Modern Prints;
Tuesday September 13th
Doyle New York; Estate of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.;
Heritage Auctions; Historical Manuscripts;
Heritage Auctions; Rare Books Auction;
Weds’day Sept. 14th
Heritage Auctions; Historical Manuscripts continuing;
Heritage Auctions; Rare Books continuing;
Old World Auctions; Maps & Charts;
Thursday September 15th
Bloomsbury Auctions; Bibliophile Sale;
Swann Galleries; The Eric C. Caren Collection ;
Saturday September 17th
Alain & Evelyne Morel de Westgaver; Postcards, Books and Prints;
Auxerre Encheres; Ancient and Modern Books
The season is upon us!