Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2020 Issue

Money Money Money


Covid-19 and the turgid economy present a lethal mixture of possibilities that will work themselves out over the next five years.  For book dealers and collectors these issues will present additional challenges because in collectibles liquidity varies negatively with uncertainty.  By the end of the year extraordinary levels of government stimulus will have been absorbed leaving diminishing positive effects after which unmistakable negative effects will take hold:  inflation and a 25% decline of the US dollar relative to a market basket of ascendant world currencies over the next 3-5 years.


For the rare book business there are multiple issues to consider:


  1. Your debt to equity ratio:  liabilities/assets.
    1. The currency you principally trade in.
  2. The cost of your collection or stock.
  3. The relative strength of your inventory.
    1. Low, middle or high end
  4. The kind of material you have as defined by price category.
  5. Are you prepared to keep your inventory to a fixed percentage of your sales?  This means that if your sales slow you will cut your stock proportionately.
  6. Is the value of your collection significant to your cashflow or net worth?
  7. Your cashflow requirements both short and long term.
  8. How and to whom would you sell?
    1. Wealthy collectors
    2. Middle class collectors
    3. Institutions online or by offer letter
    4. At auction
    5. On eBay


It’s always a good idea to have your financial plans updated because the next 5 years will present unusual risks.


I will try to help any RBH member who requests advice.


Bruce McKinney


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Manhattan Gay Scene Guide 1969, Summer Edition,</i> Mattachine Book Service. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Harvey Milk, 2 autograph letters signed, to Pat Mormon, during US Navy service, 1954. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>“The secret of life is in Art,”</i> autograph quotation dated and signed, 1882. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Daniel Abraham, original art for <i>Stonewall Romances,</i> pen, ink & gouache, 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Antonio Lopez, 9 men’s fashion studies, graphite, 1974. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Susie Gaynes & Amy E. Bartell, <i>March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,</i> 1987. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Paris is Burning,</i> photo offset poster by Anne Dutlinger, signed by film director Jennie Livingston, 1991. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Toyen, pen & ink illustration from <i>Marquis de Sade: Justina cili prokletí ctnosti,</i> 1932. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> David Wojnarowicz, <i>Untitled (Genet with Dog),</i> mixed media collage. $8,000 to $12,000.

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