The Power of Book Auction History

- by Bruce E. McKinney

One of NewYork's auctions in the '30s

How we will approach this project

This is our first iteration of the history of book auctions in America. It begins with a listing of all known events mentioned in the ABAC. In time more events will be identified and added to the gathering historical record. The ABAC is an admirable effort but thin. More details about specific events will elaborate our understanding. So too will the inclusion of the complete descriptions and prices realized for perhaps 10 to 15% of the lots from this period. From the first reported auction in 1665 to the final reported sale in 1934 there are an estimated ten million lots. It's our goal to incorporate 1.5 million of these records into the AED. There are of course also more recent records and we'll focus on the 1935 to 1990 period as well. We are also adding images of auction covers and title pages. We start with 750 in place.

Whether gains in perspective will be literary, cultural, in taste or value is uncertain. That there is much to be learned will be apparent to those who access American Book Auction Catalogues. We haven't just alighted upon this planet fresh without a history. Knowing it is part of the pleasure of being serious about books.

If you are a member sign in, select Advanced Search, type in American Book in the Database Source field and then add whatever search terms within these sales you would like to see. This is interesting material and no doubt, for a few collectors, red meat for a collecting career.

If you have unrecorded auction records and are willing to share your information please contact us.

Bruce McKinney
415 823-6678