New York, New York: As a place and a feeling

- by Bruce E. McKinney


Montresor. Plan of New York, 1775. The top lot

An intensely focused collection of unusual and rare engravings and lithographs of New York, the property of the Downtown Club near Wall Street, were sold at Arader Galleries on Sunday April 25th and achieved an extravagant success as all but 2 of the 236 lots sold.  For they whose collecting focus was New York this was a rare opportunity.


The Downtown Club’s collection of images of New York were put together over decades, to celebrate and remember the unique historical role of Manhattan.  Across the club’s public rooms their collection conveyed taste and ambiance.


As a collection the material had a range of condition and rarity, with high points and obscurities that required close examination.  Adding complexity, many of the items had little or no auction history.   When the auction started it was apparent there were plenty of bidders.


Whether the sources of enthusiasm were love of ephemera, love of New York, support for the community, or simply the animal spirits that sometimes overrule everyday decorum, whatever it was, every lot was going to be sold – it was quite the demonstration of the magic that sometimes takes hold in auction rooms.


Given that the material was uneven and primarily ephemera, average lot value managed to be strong, an appealing - $1,900.64.


The timing was unfortunate but no doubt the future of ephemera will be golden.


Here is a link to this auction’s analysis in RBH’s auction section.