• <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States, pamphlet, 1862. Sold May 7 for $11,875.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. Sold May 7 for $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. Sold May 7 for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. Sold May 7 for $5,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. Sold May 7 for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, silver print, 1968. Sold May 7 for $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> March For Freedom Now!, poster for a protest on the 1960 Republican Convention. Sold May 7 for $17,500.
  • <b>Gonnelli:</b> Books & Graphics 26th – 27th – 28th May 2020.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 27th, Travel and exploration.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 27th, Musical books, autographs & printed music.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 26th, A collection of Piranesi’s etchings. € 50 to € 16000.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Books from XV to XX Century.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Hansel and Gretel and other stories by the brothers Grimm illustrated by Kay Nielsen. € 1000.
    <b>Gonnelli:</b> May 28th, Artists’ books from Dalì, Marini & others.
  • <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Extremely rare, signature of Patrick Ferguson, famed rifle inventor and British officer. $20,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> 1776 Battle of Sullivan's Island watercolor, attributed to James Peale. 11 1/2 x 17 3/16. $10,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> John Hancock-signed commission of Ensign Aaron Butler, 1777. $8,000 to $16,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston, Perpetrated in the Evening of the Fifth Day of March 1770… London, [1770]. $7,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Original manuscript of 1761 Massachusetts Bay Tax Act. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Wine receipt for Washington's Council of War, May 24, 1778, leading to Monmouth Battle. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [Siege of Boston]. “A Muster Roll of The Company Under the Command of Captain Josiah King in Colonel David Brewer’s Regiment, to the First of August, 1775.” $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Congressman Brigham describes George Washington's Mount Vernon estate and its slaves. $3,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [British Army. Uniforms and Organizaton] "Gen[era]l. Disposition of The King’s Troops with the Number, Uniform and Colonel [of Each Regiment, 1763]. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <center><b>Morphy Auctions</b><br>Founders & Patriots: Arms, Militaria, Documents, Artwork & Rare Imprints from the Era of the American Revolution & the War of 1812<br><b>May 27, 2020</b>
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Revolutionary era paper money, continental and state (lot of 55). $2,500 to $5,500.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> Rare 1782 loyalist military passport from Charleston, SC. $1,500 to $3,000.
    <b>Morphy Auctions, May 27:</b> [Stamp Act.] Rare 1765 stamp for 2 shillings and 6 pence. $1,250 to $2,500.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2007 Issue

What we can learn about value from history

Nyhs.lot164

The Maxwell Code prompted this study.


With the sale in hand I compared the auction descriptions of all lots to descriptions of material posted on Abe using author last name, an important term from the title in the keyword field, and a year in the date range. The results are surprising at many levels. It turns out "rare" was somewhat casually used, at least in hindsight for I found 206 examples of 80 of the items. In other words, one third of the items were recently one click away. These are generally some of the less expensive material in the 1944 sale for their average realization was $15.86. However, the Abe listings are not exclusively the inexpensive material. Eleven of the 80 items on Abe today brought $25 or more in the auction in 1944. Their average price in that sale was $56.78. What wasn't on Abe recently is the super-premium material. In fact the most expensive item on Abe is lot 3, Jacques P. Cornut's Canadensivm Plantarvum, printed in Paris in 1635. The price? $5,290. It brought $90 in 1944. Lot 147 was Daniel Drake's "An Inaugural Discourse on Medical Education..." printed in Cincinnati in 1820. It brought $85 in 1944. The copy online is $3,000. Charles Pinckney's "Observations on the Plan of the Government Submitted to the Federal Convention, a 1787 edition, cost $65 in the NYHS sale. An impaired copy today is available for $800. Lot 188 is "A View of the Controversy between Great Britain and her Colonies..." printed in New York by Rivington in 1774. It brought $65 sixty three years ago. The recent price was $2,750.

Today, on Abe for all 80 items and their 206 individual examples, prices on the average, are 27.7 times higher with the more expensive material in 1944 sale carrying higher multiples today. In other words, the very good has done much better while the simply good generally did less well. This said, for this analysis I excluded duplicate copies from the same seller to simplify the math. Five sellers offered 2 copies and in one case 3 of the same item. Their inclusion would influence the outcomes but not my conclusions.

I have also ignored most references to condition. The copies in the New York Historical sale were often rebound and some of the Abe copies are similarly impaired so there are caveats on both sides. In many cases, the copies on Abe are better. The NYHS was selling its duplicates and by implication their second best copies.

In the AED we believe the appropriate multiple for converting 1944 prices into current value is 55 times based on analysis of almost 1.7 million records. Why are these Abe multiples so much lower? There seem to be three reasons. Much of the higher value material may have never been listed on Abe or any other site so their examples are unavailable to this analysis. After all, such items rarely appear in the auction rooms so there is no reason to think they regularly appear on line. Second, when such material does appear on Abe I believe it tends to be picked up quickly. I've done this myself. You see it, say "wow" and buy it. Said another way, what we see on Abe is what has not yet sold. It's not the whole story but it's the story we can see.

The third reason is that as listing time increases, the number of copies available increases and their prices eventually come down. You can ask $1,000 on Abe but if after five years other copies have come on line, and no one has expressed interest in yours, you are much more likely to reduce your price than to increase it. At minimum sellers in this predicament become negotiable. Asking prices may remain the same but net outcomes fall. For prices to rise significantly demand needs to increase faster than supply. Today the number of items offered ever increases and demand struggles to stay up.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> INCUNABULA -Fridolin, Stephan. <i>Schatzbehalter.</i> With 96 (including 5 repeated) full-page text woodcuts. Nürnberg, 1491.<br>€ 39 470 / 57 020
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Kokoschka, Oskar. <i>Die Träumenden Knaben (The Dreaming Boys).</i> With 11 original lithographs. Vienne, 1908.<br>€ 35 090 / 52 630
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Third Bessarion Master (active in Lombard in the third quarter of the 15th century). Leaf from a gradual, 1455-60.<br>€ 21 930 / 30 700
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Picasso, Pablo - Delgado, José alias Pepe Illo. <i>La Tauromaquia o arte de torear.</i> With 26 original aquatints and 1 original etching by Picasso.<br>€ 21 930 / 35 090
    <b>Koller International Auctions: Books [and] Manuscripts & Autographs. June 15, 2020</b>
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Linschoten, Jan Huygen van. <i>Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien…</i> Amsterdam, 1595.<br>€ 17 540 / 26 320
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> CHILDREN’S BOOKS - Meggendorfer, Lothar. <i>Nah und Fern. Ein Tierbilderbuch zum Ziehen.</i> With 8 coloured, lithographed plates.<br>€ 530 / 790
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> DANSE MACABRE - Bille, Edmond. <i>Une Danse macabre.</i> With 20 coloured woodcuts. Lausanne, 1919. Large folio.<br>€ 610 / 880
    <b>Koller, Jun. 15:</b> Dexel, Walter. A collection of 7 invitation cards from the Kunstverein Jena, each typographically designed by W. Dexel. Jena, 1924-1928. Each 10.5 x 14.8 cm.<br>€ 530 / 790
  • <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>On the Origin of Species,</i> 1st edition, London, 1859. Original cloth, one of 1,250 copies. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> The Gentleman’s Magazine, or Monthly Intelligencer, 276 volumes, 1731-1894. With all the America maps, and the first British publication of the US Declaration of Independence. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Washington (John). <i>Eskimaux and English Vocabulary, for the Use of the Arctic Expedition,</i> 1st edition, London, 1850. Sabin 101906. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Churchill (Winston S.). <i>Ian Hamilton’s March [and] London to Ladysmith,</i> 1st editions, 1900. Signed by the author. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Wallace (Alfred Russel). <i>Is Mars Habitable?,</i> 1st edition, London, 1907. Extremely rare in the dust jacket. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Montes de Oca (Rafael). <i>Ensayo ornitologico de los Troquilideos o Colibries de Mexico,</i> 1st edition, Mexico City, 1875. With 12 hand-coloured lithographs of hummingbirds. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Agrippa (Camillo). <i>Trattato di scienza d’arme,</i> Venice, 1568. One of 50 lots from the Leon Paul Library of Fencing. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Clarke (Sir Alured, 1744-1832). Manuscript document signed as commander of British forces in Georgia during the American War of Independence, Savannah, 18 June 1782. £300 to £500.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> [Slave Narrative]. <i>The Life and Sufferings of Leonard Black, a Fugitive from Slavery,</i> 1st edition, New Bedford MA, 1847. £300 to £500.
    <center><b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers<br>Printed Books, Maps & Autographs<br>May 27 & 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Finaughty (William). <i>The Recollections of William Finaughty, Elephant Hunter 1864-1875,</i> 1st edition, Philadelphia, [1916]. One of 250 copies. £500 to £800.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> Gold (Charles). <i>Oriental Drawings: Sketched between the Years 1791 and 1798,</i> 1st edition, 1806. With 48 fine hand-coloured aquatints. £3,000 to £5,000.
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers 27/28 May 2020:</b> George II (1683-1760) & William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire (1720-1764). Manuscript exchequer document signed, 1757. £700 to £1,000.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SUPREME COURT JUSTICES]. A very extensive collection of 203 letters, documents and signatures. A COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, JOHN JAY THROUGH WILLIAM REHNQUIST. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ZATTA, Antonio. <i>Atlante Novissimo.</i> Venice: Antonio Zatta, 1775-1785. ONE OF THE FINEST WORLD ATLASES issued in Italy in the 18th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [CHICAGO HISTORY] -- [COLUMBUS, Christopher]. Monumental historiated and embroidered panel of the MADE FOR THE 1893 COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION IN CHICAGO. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MONASTERY HILL BINDING]. AINSWORTH, William Harrison. <i>Historical Romances.</i> Philadelphia, n.d. A fine early exhibition binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM]. New York: Tiber Press, [1960]. 4 volumes. LIMITED EDITION, number 119 of 200 COPIES, EACH SIGNED BY THE POET AND ARTIST. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> GRATIANUS, the Canonist. <i>Decretum.</i> Venedig: Petrus de Plasiis, 25 January 1483. Second quarto edition. FIRST PAGE ILLUMINATED BY A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [ABOLITIONISTS]. <i>William Lloyd Garrison. The Story of his Life.</i> New York, 1885. ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS FROM SEVERAL NOTABLE ABOLITIONISTS neatly bound in throughout. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> ANSON, George. <i>A Voyage round the World, In the Years 1740... 1744.</i> London: John and Paul Knapton for the author, 1748. FIRST EDITION. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> Blank railroad ledger, "Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest" (spine title). N.p., 1909. A MONUMENTAL 20th-CENTURY ART NOUVEAU BINDING. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>Including Americana<br>Live and Online<br>June 23, 2020</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [MINIATURE ROOM] -- [FLEMING, John (1910-1987)]. Miniature of his 57th Street Library and Gallery. JOHN F. FLEMING'S BARONIAL 57TH STREET GALLERY. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [SANGORSKI & SUTCLIFFE BINDING]. CHESTERTON, G.K. <i>Five Types: A Book of Essays.</i> London, 1910. LIMITED EDITION, number 3 of 30 copies on vellum SIGNED BY GEORGE SUTCLIFFE. $400 to $500.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Jun. 23:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. <i>When Adam Delved and Eve Span....</i> [Ancoats Brotherhood, 1894-5]. LIMITED EDITION, one of 250 copies printed. $500 to $700.

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