Auction Update Review
A few back auctions and the natural increase in auction activity meant that this week we archived 11 auctions, 15,730 lots raising $2.8 million. The business was divided between dollars , British Pounds , Euros , and Pesos . Documented book, manuscript and ephemera auctions, on average, occurred every 17 hours in 2009 and the pace is picking up.
The percentage of lots sold, at 61%, was lower than has been the case recently. Both buyers and sellers have been adjusting expectations and we are far enough into the correction to say it is taking on a feeling of permanence. That said, the market is continuing to divide between the highly collectible and the simply interesting. The premium for iconic material over everyday rarities is opening into a gap and auction houses that seek to protect consignors against declines in prices face a losing battle. The current adjustment is not temporary nor is it over. Three years from now we will look back and wonder that we didn't see it coming. If this is the bad news there is a silver lining and it's that, as prices become reasonable the market becomes accessible to fledgling collectors again.
To the question where is the new collector part of the answer is that they have been waiting for books to become an attractive proposition. They are moving in this direction today.
March 7, 2010