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 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
  • <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