Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2020 Issue

Books, Manuscripts and Ephemera Sales at Doyle Forever Transformed

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Edward [Ted] Ripley-Duggan

Doyle has landed on their feet as the field has been adjusting to the changing market and the Coronavirus catashrophe.  Net net the company is stronger and I believe Doyle will be PLAYERS.  Based on my perception I asked Edward Ripley-Duggan to tell us how things are going.  Ted is very literate and this is his well considered reply.

 

Doyle has long incorporated online bidding in its auctions, but since July 2018 the Rare Books Department has been conducting timed, online-only book auctions. An initial impetus for this came with the accession of the Arnold “Jake” Johnson collection of sporting books; a vast collection formed over many years by a recently deceased Montana-based collector of sporting books and related topics. Jake Johnson avidly pursued materials pertaining to angling, big game hunting, and indeed all aspects of hunting, primarily from the 18th to early 20th century. Since explorers almost invariably hunted, the collection incorporated a great deal of travel and exploration; as the topic appealed to the publishers of color-plate books in the nineteenth century, there were a diverse range of color plate books in aquatint.

 By the beginning of this year, we had held roughly ten such auctions and had diversified to include material from other consignors. For instance, in early February, when the Covid-19 virus was still a distant rumor, we put together a very successful sale of material by the illustrator Edward Gorey. The online format allowed us to offer over 200 lots at a wide range of values, and to offer fan-favorite ephemera such as Gorey posters, coffee mugs, and stationery, most of which sold rather well. It was also wonderful to meet collectors and fans of the artist who were drawn to the broad array of items.

While none of these online sales have been of the value of our semi-annual live main sales (which feature in-person viewing, live auctioneering with phone and internet bidding etc.) there is much to be said for them. We find that auctions devoted to individual themes rather than general sales can produce very strong results for the most desirable items in a collection, and that the focused attention on the subject adds context to the least valuable books—and almost all lots find buyers. Typically, around 85 percent of lots find new homes in the online-only sales, a respectable sell-through rate, to use the argot of the auction world.

 This April, we had a large and diverse sale set for the 22nd of the month. The 500+ items included a fine collection of Rudyard Kipling, the estate of the late autograph dealer Gary Combs, and the wonderful collection of illustration art by E.H. Shepard and Beatrix Potter assembled by Mary K. Young. By the time Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his stay-at-home order on March 20 much of the material had been catalogued and was ready for sale. But as the pandemic started to take hold in the U.S., how should we proceed? All options were very seriously considered, including postponement, but who knew what the market might be later in the year?

The solution was simple: as we had a track record of mounting successful Internet-only sales, and that form of auction seemed to be uniquely suited to the situation, we decided that this would be the time to scale up our efforts in online auctions. Consignors were contacted and the potential risks and benefits of the situation discussed: most were content to sell at a time when other auction houses were canceling auctions, with the result that our sales would have a commanding presence in the market. This would also be a time when virtually every collector would be home, voraciously pouring over any catalogue that landed in their inbox, unable to attend fairs, museum exhibitions, or other bibliophile pursuits. 

Building on the success of the thematic online sales of the past, the single auction was broken into four wings. The Literature was offered on April 15; the Young Collection and an interesting range of antiquarian material was sold on April 22; the Combs autograph material on the 23rd, the day after; and a fourth auction, offering Travel & Natural History and combining items originating from the collection of Quentin Keynes with an array of books from the Johnson Library will be offered in May (both Johnson and Keynes were outdoorsmen as well as collectors; Keynes had led safaris in Africa; so this felt like a natural grouping).

The literature sale, the first up, was reassuring in its results. 106 lots, with an aggregate estimate of roughly $80,000 to $125,000, were 92 percent sold, with a result (at hammer) of $136,000 dollars, in excess of the high estimate. Several world records for works by Kipling were set during the intense online bidding. A number of new buyers materialized, and the sale was, we felt, an unqualified success. The April 22 Rare Books, Autographs & Maps auction featuring the Mary K. Young Collection also saw vigorous bidding, with a sale total of $546,000 dollars hammer. This included $75,000 for an original work by E.H. Shepard published in The House at Pooh Corner, which exceeded its estimate and suggests the endless possibilities inherent in online auctions. On April 23rd, Autograph Seeker: The Estate of Gary Combs saw a hammer of $108,000, with 94 percent sold, a wonderful result that confirmed our instincts to forge ahead with these auctions. For the three days of sales so far, we had seen results that were on a par, in terms of sell-through rates and result versus estimate, with our usual live sales.

Will traditional auctions return? I’m sure that, once the Covid-19 troubles are past, live viewing before the sale is likely to resume at Doyle, although there are certainly online-only houses who do not offer this feature, and this was the case even before the pandemic. However, I do think it likely that traditional printed catalogues may become few and far between. I also believe that the live auction, with a viewing audience in attendance, will become increasingly uncommon even after the end of social distancing, except perhaps for sales such as high-end fine art, where the theater of the auction helps drive prices. Some auction houses had already made moves in this direction well before the present situation; with one globally prominent firm that, starting in 2019, offered printed catalogues, full viewing, but no live auction for its book sales. The new normal, after the pandemic is merely a bad memory, is likely to be an auction that is predominantly an online event.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
    <center><b>ABAA Virtual Book Fair</b><br>Join your favorite booksellers<br>June 4-7, 2020
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.
  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790

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