Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2013 Issue

AE Top 500 Auction Sales for 2012

Spiderman328

Spiderman takes on the Hulk, and takes in $657,250 for his efforts. Courtesy Heritage Auctions.

It is time once again to look back at the Americana Exchange's annual listing of the Top 500 sales at auction in the books, works on paper, and related ephemera field for 2012. It was an unusually active year, but likely the new norm. The volume of sales at auction has been building steadily and there is no reason to believe the trend won't continue. For 2012, there were again 11 items in the million dollar category, but #1 was almost $10 million, nearly four times the highest priced item of 2011.

 

Perhaps most telling was #500. In 2011, that item sold for $52,170. In 2012, #500 sold for $71,700. That's an increase of 37%. What's going on here? Are prices rising that much? While the top end appears to be the strongest part of the market, prices aren't growing that rapidly. What we are seeing is more books coming to auction. As more books are offered at auction, naturally, more high-priced ones appear. Auctions are taking more of the market, like the listing sites did a decade ago, except the auctions garner more of the high end books.

 

Another trend that continues is the shift to more ephemeral items, manuscripts, maps, images, and items other then traditional books. Visual and unique are increasingly valuable attributes. People like things they can easily display on a wall, and things that are one of a kind. The result is that images and manuscripts continue to generate increasing interest, even as traditional books struggle a bit for attention. Another important factor is familiarity to one's own lifetime experiences. This year the list is filled with comic books and comic book art, mainly U.S. action comics, interspersed with Hergé's French cartoon, Tintin. These are items today's buyers grew up with in their youth.

 

In a moment, we will look at the top 10, but first, here are a few other choices from the list. At the end of this article is a link to the entire AE Top 500.

 

Item 495 is a series of documents pertaining to the shooting of Johnny Torrio in Chicago in 1925. One of those documents is a signed deposition of Torrio's protege, Al Capone. Asked how many times he has been arrested in Chicago, Capone replies, “Every time something happens I get arrested.” Capone says he did not know who did the shooting, but when asked if he would say if he did know, Capone responds, “No, I value my life too much to tell if I did know.” $72,000.

 

Item 422 is a minor document signed by an obscure president. It is a ship's passport, a routinely issued document from presidents at the time. What makes this so valuable is that it was signed by President William Henry Harrison. Harrison took ill shortly after being inaugurated and died a month later. His signature as president, therefore, is extremely rare. $80,500.

 

Item 335 is an archive of memorabilia pertaining to Edgar Allen Poe, including family correspondence, pictures, a lock of Poe's hair, and the engagement ring he gave his childhood sweetheart when finding her later in life. Poe died before they could wed. $94,000.

 

Item 275 is a land document signed by explorers Meriwether Lewis and Joseph Clark. It is the only known document signed by both in private hands. $110,000.

 

Item 191 is the contract Sitting Bull signed to appear in Buffalo Bill's Wild West. The Sioux Chief toured with Buffalo Bill during 1885. $155,350.

 

Item 168 is a letter from English King Richard III from 1484 or 1485 asking a justice of the peace to assist a nobleman in the return of his manor. $169,338.

 

Item 143 is the original manuscript and a typescript for an F. Scott Fitzgerald unpublished short story, circa 1920, entitled TheI.O.U. $194,500.

 

Item 117 is an autographed manuscript of the AveMaria by composer Giuseppe Verdi. $232,400.

 

Item 22 is Todd McFarlane's original cover art for a 1990 issue of TheAmazingSpider-Man#328. $657,250.

 


Posted On: 2013-01-04 00:00
User Name: scientiabk

All 10 of your "other choices" on the list above are non-book items. So it is not just the buyers at auction who are tending more and more to


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Textile of the Great White Fleet, with portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans & successor Charles Stillman Sperry, 1908. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> William J. Stone, <i>Declaration of Independence,</i> Force printing, 1833. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Shugart family papers including documentation of the Underground Railroad, 63 items, 1838-81. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Records of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury salt works, over 2000 items, with extensive slave labor correspondence, legal records & receipts, bulk 1820-1865. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Gloria Steinem, typescript for her speech <i>Living the Revolution,</i> with related letters and documents, 1941-77. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> <i>Liberty Triumphant or the Downfall of Oppression,</i> depicting the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, c. 1774. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Juan Eusebio Nieremberg, <i>Historia naturae, maxime peregrinae, libris XVI distincta,</i> Antwerp, 1635. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Antonio de Mayorga, manuscript map of Mexico City, 1779. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Thomas L. McKenney & James Hall, <i>History of the Indian Tribes of North America,</i> first edition, 3 volumes, Philadelphia, 1842-44. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Samuel Walker, diary of the entire first cruise of the USS Kineo, a gunboat on the Mississippi, 1854-69. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 26:</b> Scrapbook on early Stanford football, with letters from Walter Camp, 1893-95 & 1931. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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