Auction Update Review
For the week ending April 10th six auctions were archived on the Americana Exchange, two denominated in dollars, two in pounds, and two in Euros. Sixty-four percent of all lots sold. Turnover was $3.4 million primarily on the strength of the James D. Julia sale of 131 lots of Washingtoniana, early military and diplomatic history. A single contemporary hand drawn map of Yorktown, in the sale, brought $1,150,000. The Julia sale was held on February 4th and 5th but archived only a few days ago.
This past Thursday Swann offered the first of nine sales scheduled by New York auction houses scheduled around the ABAA Book Fair. Their's was the Otto Penzler Collection of Fiction. As is their norm, the sell-through was strong: 77%. By this coming Friday the other eight sales will move from prospective to post-mortem and we'll have a substantial dataset for assessing the market.
The ABAA Book Fair, which ended today, appears to have achieved a substantial success. So too for the Shadow Fair. Both shows saw steady crowds of motivated collectors. If auctions can also deliver solid performances this week the field may pronounce itself "recovered" from the downturn that is now in its second year. Where prices stabilize is a separate issue. Auction realizations have been drifting down, libraries buying less, and collectors feeling wary. The downturn has probably done some permanent damage to the more common rarities so stabilization and adjustment will be ongoing.
For those lucky enough to visit New York for the ongoing book events its a great experience. In addition to the shows and auctions there is also the New York Public Library and the New York Historical Society, both very worthwhile stops.
This said, the only constant continues to be change, recently change for the better.