Auction Update Review


A Good Week

For the week ending November 17, 2012, 20 auctions were archived to the AE Database. Nine were in U.S. dollars, 5 in British pounds, and 6 in euros. All but one took place between November 11-16. Sales were strong, with a 78% sell-through rate. Typically, that number is in the low 70s. If threats of America slipping off the fiscal cliff, Europe rolling back into recession, and wider war breaking out in the Middle East were making buyers nervous, they didn't display such fears in the auction rooms. Hopefully, this poll of buyers of works on paper signals these fears are overblown.

In total, 4,147 lots were offered, 3,235 hammered down to new owners. Total sales were $38,458,000, just under 78% of the total high estimates of all lots offered. This, too, is a good number. There is a caveat here - $27 million of these sales were attributable to Christie's sale of Andy Warhol prints. Warhol remains an icon of the generation now in its prime buying years, and everything his brush touched has turned to gold. It will take a few more generations to determine whether history concludes his contributions to the arts were as important as those of Shakespeare to literature, or of Nico to the Velvet Underground. However, once the large Warhol sale is removed, we find sales percentages of the remaining more traditional items virtually the same. It was still a good week.

Four sales reached the million dollar mark:

Christie's. Andy Warhol Benefit: $27,040,092.

Christie's. Photographs: $3,829,677.

Sotheby's. Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History: $3,537,094.

Bonham's. Books, Maps and Manuscripts: $1,224,944.

Two sales achieved currency volumes of over 100% of their total of high estimates:

Bruun Rasmussen. Books: 131%.

Bonham's. Books, Maps and Manuscripts: 114%.

Eight auctions sold more than 80% of their lots:

Freeman's. Historic Muhlenberg Property from a Private Collection: 100%

National Book Auctions. Books and Ephemera: 100%.

Neret – Minet & Tessier. Comic Strips: 93%.

Christie's. Andy Warhol Benefit: 92%.

Freeman's. Pennsylvania Sale: 90%.

Bruun Rasmussen. Books: 88%.

Heritage Auctions (online). Rare Books: 83%.

Skinner's. Fine Books and Manuscripts: 80%.

Despite the Thanksgiving holiday in America, the coming week will still be active, with 15 sales scheduled:

Mon. Nov. 19:

Alde: Modern Illustrated Books, Children's Books.

Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling: Rare Books

Sotheby's: Books and Manuscripts.

Tues. Nov. 20:

Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling: Rare Books.

Swann Galleries: 19th and 20th Century Literature.

Wed. Nov. 21:

Christie's: Valuable Books and Manuscripts.

Pierre Berge and Associates: Books.

Thurs. Nov. 22:

Heritage Auctions (online): Rare Books.

Fri. Nov. 23:

Ader: Books for Children.

Artcurial Briest: Comic Strips.

Bloomsbury Auctions: Photographs.

Cornette de Saint Cyr: Photographs.

Ketterer Kunst / F. Doerling: Old Master Prints.

Keys Fine Arts: East Anglia.

Sat. Nov. 24:

Artcurial Briest: Comics.

Lots for each of these auctions are now available on the AE website, so you can go to now and go to the auction calendar to see all lots available at each auction, or use the search box at the top of the page to search for items in topics of interest at all 15 of these auctions, and others in the weeks ahead.

Mike Stillman


November 18, 2012

  • <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.