Auction Update Review


The Auctions Turn Complicated

One week the auction market is progressing, albeit a bit uncertainly, and the next it’s jittery.  Around the United States folks are sitting-in and calling for jobs, European leaders are playing dodge ball with disaster, the mainland Chinese are acknowledging inflation, the heir apparent in Saudi Arabia slipped off the mortal coil, and the Khadaffi regime went kaput.  In this light the fact that some old books aren’t bringing what their owners expected is hardly unexpected.  Stock markets now regularly surge and collapse while talking heads deliver gibberish that wears thin within the day.   Book collectors are altogether a steady lot but can’t help but be affected by the gun-fire that seems to be pinging ever closer.  If there is truth to the saying it is always darkest before the dawn we can expect sunrise shortly.  In the mean time the sales, long committed and scheduled soldier on and those who stayed away can only feel regret for the opportunities missed.  The rule:  it is always good to buy when few others are willing – is still the rule.


For the week seventeen sales were archived, one in British Pounds and eight each in Dollars and Euros.  Turnover was $8,922,807 against the aggregate high estimate of $14,965,698.  Some weeks turnover approaches 100% of the aggregate high estimate.  This week it was 59.6%, a decidedly off week.  The weakness was at the top and we know this because the percentage of lots sold wasn’t bad – 72.6%.   When the percentage of lots sold is in the normal range [70-75%] and the total of all sales well off the high estimate – the weakness is at the top.


This week 7 sales reached or exceeded 100% of their aggregate high estimate:


Henri Godts.  Books from the 16th to 20th Centuries on 10/11:  335%;

Ader.  Sylvain Laboureur Succession:  Prints, Drawings, Modern Paintings, Books… on 10/12:  179%;

Marc van de Wiele Auctions.  Military Cartography on 10/1:  144%;

Bloomsbury Auctions.  Books from the RIKS Library on 10/20:  121%

Kapandji Morhange.  Books and Manuscripts on 10/19:  115%;

Bonhams.  SoMa Estate Books on 10/16:  104%

Swann Galleries.  Early Printed Medical and Scientific Books on 10/17:  100%


For the week ahead 15 sales are scheduled:

October 24th  Dorotheum:  Books and Decorative Prints [102411]


October 25th  Bonhams:  Prints [19353]

                        Christie’s:  Prints and Multiples [2475]


October 26th  Christie’s:  Prints and Multiples [2475]

                        Swann Galleries:  Old Master through Modern Prints (2258)


October 27th  Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling:  Classic Masters [382]

                        Sotheby’s:  Prints [NO8786]

                        Antiquanian  Books (14a)

                        Swann Galleries: Old Master through Modern Prints … continues (2258)


October 28th  Alde:  Library of Lord Straboigi

                        Piasa:  Ancient, Modern and Contemporary Photographs [102811]

                        Sotheby’s:  Prints [NO8786]


October 29th  Artcurial Briest-Le Fur-Poulain-F. Tajan:  Comic Strips [2002]

                        Knotty Pint Auctions:  Antique & Estate Books (102911)


October 30th  Bonhams:  Books and Manuscripts [19406]

Here is a link to the AE Auctions Calendar:  15 sales are scheduled.


  • <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.