• <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> [Paine, Thomas]. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America… Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776. $200,000 to $250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph letter signed, to Joshua Reed Giddings, 21 May 1860. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Oakley, Annie. <i>A Brief Sketch of Her Career and Notes on Shooting.</i> [N.p.]: ca. 1913, Signed. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Washington, George. One autograph letter signed & 3 letters signed to General Alexander McDougall, September 1777. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Mather, Cotton. <i>The Wonders of the Invisible World. Being an account of the tryals of several witches...</i> London: 1693. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> James, Benjamin.<i><br>A Treatise on the Management of the Teeth.</i> Boston, 1814. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>January 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Byblia in vulgar ultimamente impressa,</i> illustrated, folio, Lazaro de Soardi & Bernardino Benali, Venice,1517. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Milio (Agostino). <i>Nuovo dialogo delle devozioni del sacro monte della Verna,</i> FIRST and ONLY EDITION, illustrated, 4to, Stamperia Ducale, Florence, 1568. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> First English edition, NUMBER 23 OF 2000 COPIES, , 4to, Egoist Press, Paris, 1922. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Dumas (Marlene). <i>Doornrosie,</i> lithograph printed in colours, signed, 370 x 440 mm, 1989. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Japanese Culture.- Kimbei (Kusakabe). Two albums of hand tinted albumen prints, each with 50 photos, each photo c.140 x 95mm, [late 19th century]. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Miró (Joan) ARR. <i>Personnages sur Fond Noir,</i> NUMBER 38 OF 75 COPIES, lithograph, signed and dated, 305 x 445mm, 1948. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Ray (Man). Autoportrait, photolithograph, initialled and inscribed by artist, ONE of 100 COPIES, 200 x 160mm, 1972. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Wou-Ki (Zao). L'tang / The Pond, etching aquatint, number 2 of 3 only, signed by artist, 260 x 230 mm, Paris, Editions Galanis, 1972. £800 to £1,200.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Autographs & Memorabilia<br>January 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> De Amicis (Edmondo). Postcards signed by Italian author and journalist Edmondo De Amicis, February 1897- August 1907. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Live Aid.- Live Aid 1985 souvenir programme, signed by Bob Geldof, Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Freddie Mercury, and others, 1985-1991. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> 1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Black and white, landscape photograph ft. all the Heads of Government of the British Commonwealth who attended the 1944 Prime Ministers' Conference in London, signed by all.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Walt Disney Production.- Dopey, original animation cel from Snow White approx. 180 x 180mm., Walt Disney Enterprises, 1937. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Liszt (Franz). Carte-de-visite photograph by J.Ganz of Brussels of Franz Liszt, signed, 10 x 6.4cm, c. 1880. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Fermi (Enrico). Autograph letter signed to Professor Tullio Levi Civita, 8vo, Florence, 9 May 1925; w/an autograph note from Professor Civita, 7 March 1934 (2). £1,800 to £2,200.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2009 Issue

Book Prices Down 30% Year Over Year at Auction

Pricegraph03-09

Book prices at auction have been slipping.


By Michael Stillman

Book prices at auction showed a continuing sharp decline during the first two months of 2009. The median price at auction for the period was 31% lower than for the same period a year ago. This compares to a decline of 21% for all of last year compared to 2007.

While the smaller sampling available for two months versus a year leaves a greater margin of error, there is no mistaking that there has been a very substantial decline in book prices at auction. However, the implication that prices have slipped further in 2009 is not necessarily true. Last year's 21% decline included sales from the first half of the year, when the market was still relatively strong. The decline was likely steeper in the last half of the year. The current estimated 31% drop may reflect the level of decline already in place by the last half of 2008, rather than further deterioration of the market in 2009. It will take more time to determine whether book prices are continuing to fall or have begun to bottom out.

What has been happening to prices at the bookseller level is less clear since such sales are not conducted in a visible marketplace as are auctions. However, anecdotal observation does not indicate a decrease in listing prices of anything near the 30% level. Most sellers appear to be opting for reduced sales over reduced prices. In a challenging economic environment such as the current one, sellers have three choices: (1) lower asking prices, (2) maintain asking prices but discount and bargain more aggressively, or (3) maintain current prices and wait for recovery. While it is impossible to know what kind of dealing may be going on behind the scenes, anecdotal reports we have from booksellers indicate sales are down, implying that most are holding fairly closely to past pricing.

Reports we received from sellers at the recent California Book Fair would support the belief that sales, rather than prices, are down at the bookseller level. Sales between dealers in the pre-opening period were reportedly very slow, indicating a great reluctance on the part of sellers to purchase new inventory. When sellers are selling, they need to replenish inventory. This is a sign that most dealers appear to be in a wait-and-see mode, rather than aggressively discounting in an attempt to boost sales.

What booksellers will do, or should do, in the days ahead is far less clear. Decisions will be made based on the immediacy of a dealer's need for cash and his or her belief in how long it will take for the market to recover. Those dealers in a strong financial condition may choose to wait out the storm. Those who will need greater cash flow in the months ahead may be better advised to start developing new strategies sooner rather than later. Recovery will come, but it appears almost certain that the time frame will be years, not months. Those whose survival under current conditions will be limited to months need to make adjustments now before time further erodes their financial strength. A business model that depends on a market turnaround by summer appears almost certain to be destined for failure. Even the more optimistic of economic forecasters do not see a recovery beginning until late in the year, and that does not mean prices will suddenly rebound by 30%. That simply means a slow return to growth. Other forecasters believe it will be years before real recovery comes. We do not mean to sound pessimistic, or be the bearer of bad news, but auction prices are a firm reality check for the book business. We believe the bookseller armed with realistic, even if unpleasant data, has a better chance of surviving and succeeding than one who builds a business model based on wishful thinking.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Abraham Lincoln Endorsement Signed, March 16, 1865. Framed with a lithograph of Lincoln by Dwight C. Sturges.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Thomas Edison Stunning Signed Portrait.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Franz Liszt Signed Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Subscription for Portraits of the Presidents Signed by J. Q. Adams, Polk, Jackson, Buchanan, and Writers Dickens, Bryant and More!
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Vinson Supreme Court Signed Presentation Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Collection of Three Financial Items.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Rare Sigmund Freud ALS Related to Sexual Issues.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> New York Yankees team signed baseball c.1937 including Gehrig, DiMaggio, Dickey, Gomez and others.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Salvador Dali Original Drawing in <i>Dali</i> by David Larkin.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Charles Wilson Peale, Association Miniature of Dr. Ebenezer Crosby after Charles Willson Peale. Gouache on ivory miniature attributed to Peale.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> William McKinley Signed Oversize Photograph Incredible 20"x24".
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Margaret Mitchell Signed <i>Gone With The Wind</i> -- First Edition.
  • <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> London, 1859. First Edition. Letter Addressed to Dr. Ogle and Envelope Signed by Charles Darwin. $278,000 to $333,000.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Ortelij, Abrahami. <i>Epitome Theatri Orbis Terrarum.</i> Antuerpiae: Exstat in Officina Plantinian, 1612. Rare Edition. $5,560 to $6,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> González de Mendoza, Juan. <i>Histoire du Grand Royaume de la Chine, Situé Aux Indes Orientales.</i> [Genève]: 1606. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Chapman, Conrad Wise. <i>Landscape of the Valley of Mexico.</i> Oil on wood. Signed and dated. $26,120 to $30,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Thesaurus Exorcismorum...</i> Coloniae, 1608. Collection of Six Works of the Most Important Franciscan Exorcists of the 16th Century. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Saggio delle Transazioni Filosofiche della Società Regia.</i> Napoli, 1729-1734. With a Map of California by Eusebio Kino. $1,120 to $1,440.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Scherer, Heinrich. <i>Delineatio Nova et Vera Partis Australis Novi Mexici, cum Australi Parte Insulae Californiae...</i> Münich, ca. 1700. $850 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Santacilia, Jorge Juan-Ulloa, Antonio de. <i>A Voyage to South America. Describing at Large, the Spanish Cities...</i> London, 1760. $890 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Limborch, Philippi. <i>Historia Inquisitionis Cui Subjungitur Liber Sententiarum Inquisitionis Tholosanae...</i> Amsterdam, 1692. $1,340 to $1,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Castro, C. - Campillo, J. - Cumplido, I. - Lauda, L. - Rodríguez G. <i>Mexico and Its Surroundings.</i> Méx, 1855-56. $5,000 to $5,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Medical Gazette. Periodical of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico...</i> México, 1864 - 1943. Pieces: 169. $1,340 to $1,560.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Signed Abraham Lincoln Civil War era document appointing Green Clay of Kentucky as Secretary of the Legation of the United States at St. Petersburg, Russia, July 15, 1861. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Original Bambi (1942) animation cel, inscribed Walt Disney's Bambi and signed Walt Disney. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Original Snow White animation cel, with Walt Disney signature on mat, lower right. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Civil Rights Era Archive relating to U.S. Deputy Marshal Dick Bagby (1933-2003) of Dallas, TX, including letters from President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General. $1,400 to $1,800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> President Andrew Jackson autograph letter, unsigned, regarding a special presentation cane sent via General John Moore McCalla to Gov. George Breathitt of Kentucky. January 18th, 1833. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Four (4) Presidential signed 17th/18th Century Books - two signed by Millard Fillmore, and two signed by James Buchanan. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> President Andrew Jackson signed military commission document conferring on George Washington McLean the rank of Second Lieutenant of Marines. Signed January 4, 1834. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Three (3) Southern Maps, including two (2) Antonio Zatta 1778, one (1) South Carolina 1796. $600 to $800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Black Forest German Forestry Apprenticeship Certificate issued to Carl Heshel by Von Fahnenburg, the Forest Master from the Royal District, February 1, 1824. $500 to $550.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Harper Lee, <i>TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,</i> signed 40th anniversary edition. NY: HarperCollins, 1999. $300 to $350.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Archive of twenty-five (25) items related to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Sixteen (16) 20th Century Celebrity Autographed Books, including Paul Newman, A. E. Hotcher, Leonard Bernstein, Clint Eastwood, Norman Rockwell, Groucho Marx, Johnny Cash, and more. $300 to $350.
  • <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.

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