In the in-between years Baltimore Book Auction would have some great years and make many adjustments. Chris was always a great cataloguer but the outcome of the shift in auctioning orientation to retail was never in doubt. The Internet, beginning in the 1990s would add further transparency immensely helping auctions reach a broader audience that responded to their retail descriptions. Baltimore Book would also adapt to these rising standards but never develop a website or online bidding, their auctions toward the end artifacts of a bygone era, - order bidding and printed catalogues, the final catalogue stapled sheets.
Baltimore of course would land some important material and conduct some great sales. They deserved them. Chris handled the dispersal of the Joseph F. Dush collection in 1997 and experienced great success. His Dush copy of the Maxwell Code [Laws of the North-West Territory], 1796 brought $80,000 when sold to Bob Emerson. A decade later, having subsequently partnered with Ed Hoffman of Columbus, Mr. Emerson sent it to the rooms at Cowan’s in Dayton to realize $103,500, itself a formidable result that strongly relied on the world record realization Baltimore had achieved. In that decade important books increased far more than 20% suggesting the Baltimore outcome was the true pace setter. The processes of consignment and sale are after all mostly logical but also random. When the Dush Collection presented the opportunity Chris brought these books to life.
Databases of auction records also came into vogue during his tenure. American Book Prices Current from 1975 on provided generally complete records of more expensive material sold by selected auction houses in the United States. The AED, associated with this site, the Americana Exchange, began in 2002 to cover auctions in the field worldwide both prospectively and historically, 1875 to yesterday. Together these databases and others made detailed analysis available to anyone with an interest. The old requirement to maintain often expensive and always bulky printed research material in a time-consuming research library was made null. Knowledge became widely available and this too impacted Baltimore’s sales.
Adding further challenges during the Baltimore Book Company years, there was a steady increase in auction houses virtually all of them after 2000 with active Internet presences. And then there was eBay. The world was moving on and the competition heating up.
In this period, in response, Chris experimented with an electronic site and with accepting credit cards but found neither worth the added expense. He preferred to keep his commission rates very low; I believe the lowest in the business with the consequence that while he often had very good material, he did not have the glossy [and somewhat costly] presentation the market was increasingly expecting.