• <b><center>Koller Auctions<br>Books & Autographs<br>29 March 2023</b>
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> DADA - <i>Cabaret Voltaire.</i> A collection of artistic and literary contributions. Edited by Hugo Ball. CHF 5,000 to 8,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> EXPRESSIONISM - <i>Der Sturm.</i> Weekly magazine for culture and the arts. Almost complete suite from the years 1910 to 1932. CHF 20,000 to 30,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> LISBON EARTHQUAKE - <i>Augsburg collection of copper engravings of Lisbon. CHF 40,000 to 60,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Hamilton, William. <i>Campi Phlegraei. Observations on the Volcanos of the Two Sicilies as they have been communicated to the Royal Society of London.</i> Naples, 1776-1779. CHF 50,000 to 70,000.
    <b><center>Koller Auctions<br>Books & Autographs<br>29 March 2023</b>
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Leonardi, Domenico Felice. <i>Le Delizie della villa di Castellazzo descritte in verso dall'abbate Domenico Felice Leonardi lucchese fra gli Arcadi Ildosio Foloetico.</i> Milan, 1743. CHF 12,000 to 18,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Zwingli, Huldrych. <i>Von erkiesen und freyhait der speisen. Von ergernusz und Verbößerung. Ob man gewalt hab die speyß zu etlichen zeyten verbieten [...]</i>. CHF 2,500 to 4,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> HENDRIK VAN VULLENHOE, UMKREIS. Benedictional and other texts for Johannes von Venningen, Bishop of Basel. Latin manuscript on parchment. CHF 50,000 to 80,000.
    <b>Koller, Mar. 29:</b> Gujer, Hans Rudolf. Master typist's book by Hans Rudolf Gujer from Wermetschweil (Wermatswil). German manuscript on paper. CHF 3,000 to 5,000.
  • <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Autograph album leaf signed, 1826. €9,000 to €12,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Franz Kafka: Autograph letter unsigned, 1924. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Torquato Tasso: Autograph poem signed, no date. €12,000 to €16,000.
    <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Charles Darwin: Autograph letter signed, 1866. €4,500 to €6,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Albert Einstein: Autograph letter signed, 1933. €6,000 to €8,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Heinrich Hertz: Autograph manuscript signed, 1889. €18,000 to €24,000.
    <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Giambattista Bodoni: Autograph letter signed, 1787. €900 to €1,200.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Francisco de Goya: Autograph letter signed, 1789. €18,750 to €25,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Martin Luther: Notes from his desk, no date. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b><center>Stargardt Autographenhandlung<br>Autographs: Literature, Music, Art, Science, History, Theatre & Film<br>March 28, 2023</b>
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Ludwig van Beethoven: Autograph letter signed, 1816. €22,500 to €30,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Gustav Mahler: Foto portrait signed and annotated, 1907(?). €7,500 to €10,000.
    <b>Stargardt Autographenhandlung, Mar. 28:</b> Bed?ich Smetana: Autograph letter signed, 1883. €4,500 to €6,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Roman binding.- Pindar. <i>Olympia, Pythia, Nemea, Isthmia,</i> translated by Johannes Lonicer, contemporary Roman binding by Niccolo Franzese, Basel, 1535. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Raverat (Gwen). Comprehensive album of 530 wood engravings, circa 1909-1950. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). <i>Fiesta,</i> first English edition, first impression dust-jacket, 1927. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Fleming (Ian). <i>Casino Royale,</i> first edition, first impression, 1953. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Dickens (Charles). <i>Great Expectations,</i> 3 vol., first edition, first impression, Chapman and Hall, 1861. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Campbell (Colen) & others. <i>Vitruvius Britannicus, or The British Architect...,</i> 5 vol., vol.1-3 later editions, vol.4 & 5 first editions, [?1731]-31-67-71. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Geography.- Mela (Pomponius). <i>Cosmographia, sive De situ orbis,</i> Venice, Franciscus Renner de Heilbronn, 1478. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> America.- [?Espinosa y Tello (José)]. <i>Relacion del Viage hecho por las Goletas Sutil y Mexicana en el Año de 1792,</i> 2 vol. including Atlas, first edition, Madrid, 1802. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Australasia.- Péron (Francois) and Louis-Claude de Saulces de Freycinet. <i>Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes,</i> 5 vol. including Atlas, second edition, Paris, 1824. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>30th March 2023</b>
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Botany.- Curtis (William). <i>The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed,</i> 83 vol. in 62, 1794-1956. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum, Mar. 30:</b> Darwin (Charles).- Lecky (W.E.H.) <i>The Rise and Influence of Rationalism in Europe,</i> 2 vol., Darwin's copy with inscription "Charles Darwin 1865", pencil marginalia and pencil notes, 1865. £7,000 to £10,000.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2021 Issue

What Is Going On With These Astronomical Prices for Collectibles?


Mario is coming for your gold coins.

What is going on here? We have been operating a collectibles site for 20 years, focus on books and traditional paper ephemera, such as broadsides and manuscripts. The books have been a bit soft the past few years, the traditional ephemera stronger, but all within normal bounds. I don't follow the traditional collecting areas of stamps and coins but I doubt that there has been much out of the ordinary there as I hear very little. However, there are some other forms of ephemera and what we are seeing there defies imagination. We have seen such spectacular increases in value over a short period of time it is hard to fathom. What is going on?


Take for example baseball cards. We have followed them occasionally for a few years as they are a form of paper ephemera, and prices have gone up. But this past year, we have seen one record price after another, and frequently the gap between old and new record is very wide. It's as if someone broke Babe Ruth's seasonal home run record of 60 (or Barry Bonds 73 if it's okay to get a little help from your friends) by hitting 120. At the end of last year, the record was already an astonishing $3.9 million for a Mike Trout card. That record quickly fell to a $5.2 million price for a rookie Mickey Mantle, but by June, a Babe Ruth minor league card surpassed it at $6 million, which was replaced in August by the $6.6 million paid for a Honus Wagner. That's a 70% increase in a year.


It's not just baseball cards. Football, basketball, and hockey cards have also set new price records this year. And, it's not just sports cards. We are seeing crazy prices for superhero cards and those ubiquitous Pokemon cards. Gotta catch 'em all. No, you have to buy them and you had better have a lot of cash as Pokemon cards aren't for kids anymore.


A somewhat older but still lively price explosion continues in comic books. Old comics can be entertaining, but millions of dollars? Just last month, another record price was set for a comic book, $3.6 million for the first appearance of Spiderman. My Spidey sense tells me this is not rational. Think of your favorite writers, and outside of Shakespeare, there is not a one of them who can achieve prices for their books like those of whoever wrote the Spiderman, Superman and Batman comics.


Should I mention NFTs? I'm still trying to get my head around that one. As we saw earlier this year, one sold for $69 million. An NFT is a “nonfungible token,” which essentially means an identifier that is embedded in a digital image which looks the same as any other copy of that digital image. This one was an artwork, and a nice one, but there is no canvas, nothing to touch and hang on a wall, just a file to upload on your monitor. If I had an extra $69 million lying around, and I don't, but if I did, I would not spend it on an NFT. No F...ing Tway.


Now, the latest is video games, specifically, those disks you used to stick in your game consoles and computers back in the '90s before there was downloading. They need to come in the original packaging, and best of all, still sealed in their shrink wrap. I don't know how you can tell whether there's really a disk in there if its in shrink wrapped packaging without destroying the packaging, but I guess it doesn't matter because who would ever be the wiser?


In November 2020, a Super Mario game sold for $156,000. It was a spectacular price, considering the previous record set that July was $114,000. Actually, it wasn't but it's unlikely anyone foresaw what would happen in 2021. In April 2021, that record was blown away by another Super Mario that sold for four times that amount, $660,000. Most records are for various iterations of the enormously popular Mario Bros. games (I played them for a while until I realized I could never beat my single-digit age children and quit in disgust). That record fell in three months as a Legend of Zelda went for $870,000. You know how long that record lasted? Two days. Unwilling to relinquish his crown, Super Mario regained his leadership almost doubling poor Zelda at $1.56 million. Not quite a month later, Mario again bested himself, selling for $2 million. That is 13 times the record price for a video game as it stood at the beginning of the year, with four months still left to go.


Not that surprisingly, people are wondering what is going on here. Some have expressed concerns that there are some games being played with these video games, perhaps collusion between buyer and seller to artificially inflate prices. I have no idea whether any of this is true or if all we are seeing is plain old bubble mentality. Is this like tulips, or the Mississippi Company? Or how about the more recent edition, Aristophil?


Aristophil was a French company that bought up some of the most important and valuable manuscripts to be found. They then sold shares in the company to investors looking to make a profit on the rising prices. Aristophil often overpaid for their manuscripts, great as they were, but that was fine. It just made it look like their prices were rising faster, making investors more excited to part with their money. It worked until some people wanted their money back. Aristophil could not sell their manuscripts to raise cash as they couldn't sell them for what they paid, let alone a profit, so they had to raise the money from new investors. Can you say “Ponzi Scheme?” When cash outflows exceeded inflows the whole thing collapsed and investors had to settle for pennies on the dollar as the Aristophil collection was sold off at auction.


Undoubtedly, much of what we have been seeing is motivated more by money (greed) than a collector's love of the objects. It takes more than that to make prices skyrocket so quickly. Real collectors who love these games have been complaining that these buyers are driving them out of the market they love. We know that the $6 million Babe Ruth baseball card was immediately put on sale for shares selling for as little as $3 for a 0.00005% interest. These aren't collectors buying. They will never touch their cards. They are hoping for a quick profit. There is a website, Rally, where you can buy and sell shares in collectibles. In fact, the $2 million Super Mario game was sold by a group of Rally investors, not a collector. For those of you who favor the type of collectibles more often featured on this site, you can buy an interest in a July 16, 1776 printing of the Declaration of Independence valued at $2 million on Rally right now. The price is $25 per share.


I don't know where this is going but my sense is these sorts of things don't end well. Still, I would never give you advice to buy or not to buy. Maybe it doesn't end poorly, or maybe it continues to fly for some time even if it eventually returns to earth. Maybe the buyer of the $2 million Super Mario game will put it up for $4 million next year and that will be a great deal because a year later it sells for $10 million. I don't know, I just know I don't want to play this game. There are too many poison mushrooms to navigate. Proceed with great caution.


By the way, did you know that people now collect, and you can buy shares on Rally, in collectible sneakers?

Posted On: 2021-10-03 00:37
User Name: bukowski

What’s going on is that Baby Boomers, the largest age cohort in the United States, and the ones with the most money as they are well into adulthood, feel a tremendous amount of nostalgia for their childhoods. You feel it for Ulster County, others feel it for comic books and baseball and other cards. This is not strange at all.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Gonnelli<br>Auction 41<br>Books, Autographs & Manuscripts<br>March 21st-23rd 2023</b>
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> Nabokov, <i>Lolita,</i> 1955. First edition, mint copy. Starting price 1900€
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> Marinetti, <i>Zang Tumb Tuuum,</i> 1914. First edition. Starting price 1600€
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> A collection of <i>Playboy,</i> starting price from 20€
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> Kepler, <i>Dioptrice,</i> 1611. First edition. Starting price 9500€
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> Barbault, <i>Les plus beaux Monuments de Rome,</i> 1761-1766. Starting price 5500€
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> Watson, <i>Dendrologia Britannica,</i> 1825. Starting price 380€
  • <b><center>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript African Americana:<br>March 30, 2023</b>
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Victor H. Green, <i>The Negro Motorist Green Book,</i> New York, 1949. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Papers of pianist-composer Lawrence Brown relating to Paul Robeson & more, various places, 1925-54. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Freedom Summer archive of civil rights activist Karen Haberman Trusty, Atlanta & elsewhere, 1963-64. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> New York, 1933. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann March 30:</b> Archive of letters from the sculptor Richmond Barthé to a close Jamaican friend, various places, 1966-85. $25,000 to $35,000.

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