Auction Update Review


The Season on Tip-Toes

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 [1];

 Saturday September 17th

                  Alain & Evelyne Morel de Westgaver; Postcards, Books and Prints;

                  Auxerre Encheres; Ancient and Modern Books

The season is upon us!


Bruce McKinney



  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…