Donald Heald, the New York rare book dealer, had been watching the emergence of auctions over the past decade as an alternative to selling at set prices and concluded the market was increasingly interested in market-derived prices. Hence he organized a new division, Donald Heald Auctions, and created a sale to experience the auction process firsthand. New auction houses are regularly announced and opened but nothing quite like Mr. Heald’s effort had been tried. He understood from the outset his effort would be under the microscope.
In June he created a pre-auction offering desirable, inexpensive material he was holding but that was not within his principal areas of focus: Americana and Canadiana, Voyages and Travels, and Natural History. For that first sale he used the Live Auctioneers platform.
Mr. Heald then used it as the opportunity to learn the mechanics and nuances of selling at auction. He’s been buying at auction for decades but, as an auction house himself, this was a new experience. As one of the paramount rare book dealers in New York, he encountered enough support in his first sale to sell about 27% of the lots.
A month later, he added a second auction platform, Invaluable, then completed [on July 17th] his second auction and first Americana sale and saw the total dollars increase as the percentage of lots sold reached 48%.
For his next sale, scheduled in early October, he plans to offer increasingly important material. It goes without saying the scale of the material will increase in significance.
Here is how the first two sales performed:
Rare Antiquarian and Illustrated Books
210 lots offered
27% of lots sold
Link to Results: https://www.rarebookhub.com/auctions/auction_detail_report?id=19281
200 lots offered
48% of lots sold
Link to Results: https://www.rarebookhub.com/auctions/auction_detail_report?id=19609
At this point, with two events completed, he’s has had 250 persons signed up to bid and has sold over 150 lots to them. He’s building an auction house and is doing so in a remarkably transparent way. The October event is going to be interesting.
To follow the development of Donald Heald Auctions click to his website.