Auction Update Review
Ten sales were archived this week: 3 conducted in the US, one in England, and six in Continental Europe. Four thousand two hundred and eight lots were offered and 3,275 sold for a 77.8% sell-through. The turnover was $4,677,966.
Swann had the best sale by turnover - $1,552,028, New England Auctions the best by percentage of lots sold - 98.82%, Le Librarie Alain Ferraton best by average lot realization: $3,657.22.
The total low estimate for all ten auctions was $2,655,219, the high estimate $3,678,081. Actual sales, $4,677,966, exceeded the aggregate high estimate by 27% - an indication that estimates have fallen into the appealing range and bidders are becoming motivated. Taken together it's evident, that while prices have declined, activity is recovering.
The next significant challenge will be the ABAA's New York Book Fair and the companion Shadow Fair, both the second weekend in April followed by Sotheby's first sale of Copley manuscript and printed material on April 14th. The Spink-Shreves Sales of Postal History in late January suggested strength in manuscript history while the ABAA Fair in LA in February suggested weakness in books. No doubt many eyes will be focused on the New York show results because every book dealer, exhibiting or not, has a stake in the outcome. Online listing prices are hanging on by a thread, held up by broad dealer unwillingness to compromise asking prices even as auction realizations have fallen. If the show and auction markets at least hold and perhaps turns up, those who held to their prices may feel vindicated.
The Copley Sales at Sothebys, featuring mainly manuscripts, begin in New York on April 14th and continue into next year. The ABAA Fair takes place April 9-11 at the Park Avenue Armory, the Shadow Fair the 9th and 10th at 135 West 18th. If you live and die with books your heart will be racing in April.
14 March 2010