Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2011 Issue

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words so here goes

Auction charts

The market for rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera: stable to improving

Good pictures. [Click on the image link]

What with the book business experiencing malaise here are two charts that will warm some hearts.

The first shows the percentage of lots at auction sold by month over the past two years.  The blue line is 2009-2010 and the orange line 2010-2011.  The second graph shows the median price for each of these months for the same two-year period.  There is no strong trend in either chart.  Prices are a tad weaker but the percentage of lots sold a few points higher.

Seen together the market for auction-able material is holding up.  There has been recurring speculation that for collectibles the future may not be as rosy as the past.  If this is so we are not seeing it.  To the contrary good material seems to be doing well even as auction houses bring down reserves to encourage broader bidding.

Ben S. Bernanke, the American Federal Reserve Chairman and inadvertent book auction advocate, favors inflation both to float real estate values and avoid deflation.  Rare books get a seat on the same bus and such a strategy that encourages inflation also makes valuable books an appealing hedge.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.
  • <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321). <i>Commedia.</i> Venezia: Vindelino da Spira, 1477. Estimate: € 40.000 - 60.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> DALI, Salvador (1908-1989) - William SHAKESPEARE (1564-1616). <i>Romeo e Giulietta.</i> Milan: Rizzoli, 1975. Estimate: € 25.000 - 35.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> MALVASIA, Cornelio; MONTANARI, Geminiano. <i>Ephemerides novissimae motuum coelestium.</i> Modena: Cassiani, 1662. Estimate: € 8.000 - 12.000.
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan. 25:</b> JANSSONIUS, Johannes. <i>Atlantis majoris quinta pars, Orbem maritimum [Novus Atlas, volume V: carte marittime].</i> Amsterdam: Janssonius, 1650. Estimate: € 12.000 - 18.000.

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