Auction Update Review

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Week Thirteen Fall 2009, 17 Auctions Archived through 12.05.09

We are several sales into December and signs that the market is normalizing were on display at both Bloomsbury and Christies in New York this past week. On December 3rd, at Bloomsbury, the sale of the de Orbe Novo Collection of 81 very early New World related printings brought $3.5 million against an aggregate low estimate of $1.7 as all lots sold with an average realization of $43,351. The following day Christies delivered twice with successful morning and afternoon sales. In the morning the "William E. Self Library [of] Important English and American Literature" brought $4,876,629 and in the afternoon a mixed sale of "Books & Manuscripts including Americana brought $6,133,443. The high drama of the two days was the sale of lot 257 in Christie's afternoon sale. It was a letter from George Washington that Christies described as "the most important Washington letter ever to come to market." In this letter Washington makes "an impassioned argument in support of the adoption of the proposed new Constitution." Mr. Washington, as President, received an annual salary of $25,000. This letter brought $3,218,500.

Five auctions were denominated in dollars, 2 in Pounds, 9 in Euros, and 1 in Mexican Pesos.

Total sales for lots denominated in dollars were $14,953,110. Nine hundred and two lots, of 1,149 offered, sold at an average realization of $16,578. For sales denominated in Pounds, Euros and Mexican Pesos 6,841 lots were offered and 4,544 sold for $7,334,046, a per lot average of $1,614.

For the 17 auctions archived this past week dollar denominated lots sold 78% of the time while their non-dollar counterparts sold-through at a 66% pace.

This coming week, December 6-12, there continue to be important sales that will help to chart the pattern of pricing for the year ahead. Cowan's offers Western and Historical Americana on the 9th, Christie's the Wolfgang A. Herz Library the same day and Dorothy Sloan two sales of Books and Maps on December 11th and 12th. Altogether twenty sales are scheduled this week and every collector will find appealing material in the rooms somewhere in the world in this the busiest auction week of the year.

Bruce McKinney
AE

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