Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2010 Issue

How To Search Worldwide Book Auction Listings Instantly

Auctionsearchpageimage

AE's Auction Search allows you to quickly search listings at scores of worldwide auction houses.


By Michael Stillman

Another year for book auctions is about to begin, which is a perfect time to remind everyone of the amazing search and informational tools the Americana Exchange provides for free. Auctions are an outstanding source for collectible books and ephemera, often at great prices, but only a small percentage of book collectors take advantage of the opportunity. They don't know how. AE is here to help.

The first step is finding material at auction. Over 150 worldwide auction houses regularly offer books for sale, either in dedicated sales or with other items such as paintings and photographs. At any one time, you will usually find between 5,000 and 30,000 lots posted. How do you find books scheduled for sale at auction when there are so many different houses that may post a sale at any time? Easy. Just go to AE's Auction Search. You can find it by clicking here now. Just enter the terms, author's last name, or any other words relevant to your collecting interest in the box marked "Keyword" and click "Submit." That's all. A list of matches will be provided in seconds.

Keep your keywords brief, "Twain" rather than "Mark Twain," "Boston" rather than "Boston Massachusetts." This way you are less likely to miss something relevant because the auction house assumed just "Twain" or "Boston" was sufficiently descriptive. Remember, you're not searching Google's database of millions of websites. You're only searching a few thousand listings, so you won't be overwhelmed with too many matches by searching broadly.

There is another way to search for these listings - regularly go to the websites of these 150+ auction houses and scroll through all of their listings for items of interest. However, if you would rather spend a few seconds rather than many hours, AE is the only place that gathers listings from all of these auctions and combines them into one searchable database.

Then, if you find an item that is of interest, AE provides the necessary contact information to place bids from afar if you are unable to attend the auction personally (most likely). The reality is, most buyers do not attend these auctions in person. They may be continents away. They place bids in advance, or place them by telephone as the auction is taking place, place them online, or are represented by dealers. Anyone can place their bids this way, and auction houses are more than happy to explain how to place absentee bids if you are unsure. Most auction houses provide thorough descriptions of what they offer, and guarantee the item is as described. It's a worldwide market and it is open to you. To begin, try an AE auction search here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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