Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2023 Issue

Auction Sales for 2022 – Steady As She Goes

The seas were calm and steady.

If you were pleased with the results of sales in the books and paper field at auction in 2021, you should be happy with those for 2022 as well. It was almost a carbon copy. When we reported these results last year, there had been a large increase in the median price and the number of lots offered. Prices had gained by 8.8%, lots offered by 22%. This time, the price increase was under 1% while the number lots offered declined slightly, by 1.6%. Since the previous year had smashed all records for prices and lots offered, 2022 was another very good year from a historical perspective.


The sell through rate also declined slightly, from 82% to 81%. This, too, is a high number by historical standards.


When all is added up, the total sales revenue came to $1.057 billion. That was $100 million less than in 2021. That shortfall mainly came from a few very high priced items. Almost half was attributed to the single $43 million sale of a first printing of the U. S. Constitution in 2021.


Interestingly, median sales prices declined during the first half of 2022. By summer, they were down 3%. However, prices rallied in the fall, leading to the small increase for the year. It will be interesting to see if the rising momentum continues into 2023.


For the second year in a row, over 50% of lots sold for over the high estimate, repeating 2021's 51%. That was the first year over 50% since we have been tracking results. Only 15% sold under the low estimate, though 19% did not sell at all. That leaves 16% that sold within the estimated range or had none.


The fourth quarter is usually the busiest of the year. It was busy again in 2022, with 28.3% of the lots offered from October through December, but it was not the busiest. The second quarter exceeded it for only the second time since we have been tracking sales with 29.0% of lots offered. Next came the first quarter with 22.0% while the slowest was the third quarter with 20.7% The reason the third quarter was so slow was August, which accounted for only 4.7% of the lots offered. On the other end, May was busiest with 11.3% of lots.


The highest average order for houses with at least 100 lots sold in the field was Christie's London South Kensington at $41,350. Close behind was Sotheby's New York at $40,222. They were followed by Christie's New York – $33,464, Arader Galleries - $21,981, Sotheby's London - $21,230, Christie's London King Street - $20,941, Freeman's - $17,973, Bonhams Los Angeles - $15,496, Sotheby's Paris - $15,415, Sotheby's Cologne - $13,515, Christie's Paris - $10,245, Aguttes - $9,060, and Bonhams New York $8,454. At the other end, for those on a more limited budget, there were the Mennonite Life auctions at $43, EV Stamps (with numerous comic books) - $50, Purcell Auctioneers - $98, One Source Auctions $100, William H. Bunch Auctions - $101, Keys Fine Arts - $104, and Sydney Rare Book Auctions - $115. There is something for everyone's budget.


As for volume of lots offered, no one is even close to the number from Heritage Auctions of Dallas. They offered 211,073 lots in the field and sold 207,000 of them, 98%. Next came Catawiki with 15,982, Kiefer Buch – 15,683, RR Auction - 13,817, PBA Galleries – 12,624, Forum – 11,053, Trillium – 10,600, Vermot de Pas – 10,000, Bubb Kuyper 9,887, and Holabird Kagin Americana - $9,315.


At the high end, 3% of all lots sold for over $10,000, while at the low end, 18% sold for under $100.

Posted On: 2023-02-01 10:45
User Name: smalc

Christie's London South Kensington saleroom closed in July 2017, so it can't have sold any lots in 2022.It also defies belief that even when it was open, its average price achieved was ever twice the King Street average, as it was the venue for second-tier sales; King Street has always been their most prestigious London location (and is now the only one in London).

Posted On: 2023-02-02 05:49
User Name: ae244155

That is correct and an error by the software. Those numbers should be combined with King Street.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Closing Time, Advance Readers Copy of Uncorrected Proof with a letter from Heller on his personal stationary
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Gates, Bill, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, N Y: Knopf, 2021; first edition, with a handwritten note from Bill Gates
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Catch-22, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961, first edition, first printing, first issue dust jacket, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Something Happened, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, first edition, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, London: John Murray, 1818, in four volumes
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000

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