Auction Update Review


Eighteen Auctions Archived - $22.8 million in sales

For the week ending Saturday December 4th 18 auctions were archived: 5 in dollars, 6 in Euros, 6 in British Pounds, and 1 in Mexican Pesos. Sales of six of the events exceeded their aggregate high estimate. Four others achieved more than 90%. In New York Bonham's sold the American Experience collection on the 2nd and Christie's Books and Manuscripts on the 3rd for a total, between them, of $10,593,533. For all sales reported this week 6,309 lots were offered and 4,726 sold for a 74.9% success rate. Against the aggregate high estimate of $26.3 million $22.8 was realized for an overall percentage of high estimate of 87%. Evidence continues to mount that auction houses are lowering estimates to encourage bidding to re-establish valuation. That process is well underway.

In New York on the 3th Christie's Books & Manuscripts sale made $6.52 million against its aggregate high estimate of $6.46 [101%]. Lot 32, a 1784 map of America by Buell estimated at $500,000 to $700,000 brought $2,098,500 and made the sale a significant success.

The American Experience sale at Bonham's on the 2nd was entirely unreserved, a rare occurrence in the rare book field for a highly important sale. Source, year purchased and price paid were provided for almost every item thus allowing for assessment of both the material and the market overall. Every item sold and every person seemed to interpret the results differently. The collection, which was built between 1991 and 2001, raised $4,056,000 against a cost of $3.34 million. Net of commissions the sale made a $100,000 gain. Valuations in the book, manuscript, map and ephemera markets have fallen about 20% over the past three years after experiencing steady increases for decades. This sale earned 21% more than its cost before deduction of auction house commissions and 3% after. The consignor [myself] believes that an exceptional catalogue, extensive publicity and extended payment terms were factors in the outcome. An in depth analysis of the sale will be posted in the January issue of AE Monthly.

Bruce McKinney

  • <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.