• <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Two first editions by Adrian Spigelius in a Sammelband: <i>De humani corporis fabrica</i> from 1627 and <i>De formato foetu</i> from 1626. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Splendid coloured copy by Frederick De Wit, <i>Atlas maior,</i> Amsterdam, 1705. €20,000 to €30,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by Marco Ricci, <i>Varia Marci Ricci Pictoris prestantissimi Experimenta,</i> Venice, Orsolini, 1723-1730. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b><center>Aste Bolaffi<br>Rare Books and Autographs<br>December 14-15, 2022</b>
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> First edition by MicheleMarieschi, <i>Magnificentiores selectioresque Urbis Venetiarum prospectus,</i> Venice, 1741. €30,000 to €40,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Magnificent album by Louis-Leopold Boilly, Collection de dessins, calques et acquerelles, 1822. €20,000 to €25,000.
    <b>Aste Bolaffi, Dec. 14-15:</b> Rare musical score by Gioachino Rossini from 1858. €6,500 to €7,500.
  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books<br> December 8, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Friedrich Justin Bertuch, <i>Bilderbuch für Kinder,</i> Weimar, 1792, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1822. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster, <i>Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula,</i> Basel, 1552. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Sebastian Münster & Hans Holbein, <i>Typus Cosmographicus Universales,</i> Basel, 1532. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Franz Unger, <i>Die Urwelt in Ihren Verschiedenen Bildungsperioden,</i> 16 tinted lithographed plates, Weigel, 1858. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann December 8:</b> Charles Varle, Wiliam Warner & Andrew Hanna, <i>Plan of the City of Environs of Baltimore,</i> Baltimore, 1801. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <center><b>19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop<br>Catalogue 195<br>Magnificent Books & Manuscripts<br>Free on request</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Benjamin Franklin on Electricity. Inscribed presentation copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Frederick Douglass. Letter on civil war and the end of slavery.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Carleton Watkins. A major American West photo album.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Einstein. General Theory of Relativity inscribed by Einstein.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> The Federalist. Rare deluxe thick-paper copy.
    <b>19th Century Shop, Catalogue 195:</b> Emma Johnston. Archive of 350 salt prints by a Victorian female photographer.
  • <b><center>Doyle<br>The Collection of a New York Surveyor<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 3. Francis M. Maerschalk. Manuscript plan of Philip Minthorne's land in Bowery 3. $2,000-3,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 30. William Bridges. A Map of a Block of Ground situate in Water Street between Walnut and Fir Streets. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 4. Francis M. Maerschalk. M. Barrack Street/Road from Spring Garden to Fresh Water. $5,000-8,000
    <b>Doyle, The Collection of a New York Surveyor:</b> Lot 46. Love Lane. Map of Land and Buildings the property of Samuel I Tobias Esqr. $2,000-3,000
    <center><b>Doyle<br>Rare Books, Autographs & Maps<br>December 16, 2022</b>
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 157. Stephen King. <i>Christine.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1983. First trade edition, inscribed by the author. $1,500-2,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 163. Charles Lindbergh. “We.” New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927. First edition, Author’s Autograph Edition. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 177. A.A. Milne. <i>Winnie-the-Pooh.</i> London: Methuen, 1926. First English trade edition, first impression. $1,000-1,500
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 196. William Shakespeare. <i>Othello, the Moor of Venice.</i> London: printed for W. Weak, 1681. $4,000-6,000
    <b>Doyle, Rare Books, Autographs & Maps:</b> Lot 203. John Steinbeck. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York: Viking, 1939. First edition. $1,000-1,500

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><center>Sotheby’s<br>Music<br>Online Auction<br>2-13 December 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> J. Brahms. Important series of 44 autograph letters signed, to Friedrich Chrysander, mostly unpublished, 1869-1894. £80,000 to £120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> J. Sibelius. Remarkable collection of 22 letters signed, to Werner Janssen, 1934-1957. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> [Mozart, W.A.] F. Zeffirelli. Stage set design for the Covent Garden production of "Don Giovanni", signed, 1963. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Dec. 2-13:</b> J. Rutter. Autograph composing manuscript of "A Ukrainian Prayer", 2022. £3,000 to £4,000.
  • <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> The Corner-stone Document of Irish Freedom. 1916 PROCLAMATION OF THE IRISH REPUBLIC. £140,000 to £180,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Joyce's Modern Masterpiece, in its one-and-hundredth Year. Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare & Co. 1922. £15,000 to £25,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b>A Request from Mr. Joyce. Joyce (James). Autograph Letter Signed to 'Dear Mr [Thomas] Pugh,' dated 6.8.1934. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dun Emer Press: Yeats (Wm. Butler). <i>Stories of Red Hanrahan,</i> 8vo Dundrum 1904. Signed by Author. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Binding: <i>Specimens of Early English Poets,</i> 8vo Lond. (For Edwards, Pall Mall) 1790. £500 to £700.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Harry Clarke: Walter (L. D'O.) <i>The Years at the Spring,</i> An Anthology of Recent Poetry. 4to New York (Brentano's) 1920. Special signed limited edition. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kipling (Rudyard). <i>Works,</i> including Writings, Novels, Poems etc. Bombay Edition, 31 vols. roy 8vo Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1913-1938. Signed by Author. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Dunraven (Edwin, Third Earl of). <i>Notes on Irish Architecture,</i> Ed. by Margaret Stokes, 2 vols. lg. folio Lond. 1875-1877. Castle Hackett copy. £1,500 to £2,400.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Kirby (Wm.) & Spence (Wm.) <i>An Introduction to Entomology,</i> 4 vols. 8vo Lond. 1822. With hand-coloured plates. £200 to £300.
    <center><b>Fonsie Mealy’s<br>Christmas Rare Books<br>& Collectors’ Sale<br>6th and 7th December</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Heaney (Seamus). <i>Death of a Naturalist,</i> 8vo Lond. (Faber & Faber) 1966 First Edition - Third Impression. Signed, & inscribed on title page 'Seamus Heaney’. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 6-7:</b> Glasgow Printing: Homer - <i>Iliad and Odyssey,</i> 4 vols. in 2, Glasgow (Robert & Andrew Foulis) 1756-1758. £1,0000 to £1,500.
  • <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VOLTAIRE. Œuvres complètes. [Kehl], Société littéraire et typographique, 1784-1789. 70 vol. €15,000 to €20,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> <i>ENCYCLOPÉDIE MÉTHODIQUE…</i> Paris, Panckoucke ; Liège, Plompteux, 1782-1832. 254 volumes in-4. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> RUYSCH (FREDERIK). <i>Thesaurus anatomicus primus [–decimus]. Het eerste [–tiende] anatomisch cabinet.</i> Amsterdam, 1701-1716. €10,000 to €12,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [MARCELLO (CRISTOFORO)]. <i>Sacrarum cæremoniarum sive rituum ecclesiasticorum S. Rom. Ecclesiæ libri tres.</i> Venise, Giunta, 1582. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> [RABEL (DANIEL)]. <i>Theatrum Floræ, in quo ex toto orbe selecti mirabiles, venustiores, ac præcipui flores, tanquam ab ipsius deæ sinu proferuntur.</i> Paris, Pierre Firens, 1627. €3,000 to €4,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> VALERIANO (PIEIRIO). <i>[Hieroglyphica, sive de sacris Ægyptiorum aliarumque gentium literis, commentariorum libri LVIII]…</i> Francfort, 1613-[1614]. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> BRUN (CLAUDE). [Cours manuscrit de Jérôme Dandini sur la Physique d'Aristote et disputes philosophiques des étudiants du collège jésuite de Bourges]. Conclusiones physic… 1579-1580. €2,000 to €3,000.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> CLERISSEAU (CHARLES-LOUIS). <i>Antiquités de la France. Première partie.</i> [Monuments de Nismes]. Paris, 1778. €1,000 to €1,200.
    <b>ALDE, Dec. 20:</b> LE FÈVRE (L.-C.). <i>Grand escalier du château de Versailles, dit escalier des ambassadeurs, ordonné et peint par Charles Le Brun.</i> Paris, s.d. €800 to €1,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KEPLER INVESTIGATES PLANETARY MOTION. KEPLER, JOHANNES. 1571-1630. $400,000 to $600,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> THE FINAL ILLUSTRATION OF POOH AND PIGLET IN THE HUNDRED ACRE WOOD. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GUTENBERG BIBLE LEAF. $60,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ORTELIUS, ABRAHAM. 1527-1598. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. "Christmas Dinner at Maxime de la Falaise's" $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GERSHWIN WORKING MUSICAL MANUSCRIPT PAGE FROM <i>OF THEE I SING.</i> $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> GILBERT, W.S. Original typed manuscript for <i>The Story of the Mikado.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> FINAL TYPED MANUSCRIPT FOR V.C. ANDREWS CLASSIC <I>FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC.</I> $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> ANNOTATED TYPESCRIPT DRAFT FOR KIPLING'S FINAL MOWGLI STORY. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> PRESENTATION COPY OF GUYS AND DOLLS. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> CHARLES DICKENS' CHINA INKWELL FEATURING A BEE READING, FROM GAD'S HILL. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec. 13:</b> NELSON'S BATTLE PLAN FOR TRAFALGAR. $200,000 to $300,000

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