Auction Update Review


The Flurry before Summer

Fifteen sales were archived, 7,186 lots offered and 4,243 lots sold.  Auction houses have been selling 70% + this spring so this counts as a tough week.  It’s not unexpected however.  The auction market, heading into summer, is already thinking about fall and beginning to look past the summer doldrums which may be setting in early.   What with default prospects in Greece back in the headlines and unemployment rates in the United States back over 9% its easy to imagine that bibliophiles could be distracted.  Total turnover was substantial - $14 million.  Had a higher percentage of lots sold $17 million could easily have changed hands.  It turns out the auctions, even on an off week, are robust.


Behind the numbers there is evidence of what many in the trade have been saying for sometime:  expensive material is selling and less expensive material is not.  That’s in line with this week’s results – total sales approaching the aggregate high estimate of all lots offered while only 59% of all lots sold.  The desirable, rare and exceptionally valuable changed hands while the lesser lights did less well.


No single week provides more than anecdotal information however.  In the auction field it takes three months to confirm which way the wind is blowing.


Of the 15 sales archived only three reached or exceeded 100% of their aggregate high estimates.


Bonhams.  Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs on June 7th – 181%,


Sotheby’s.  Music and Continental Books and Manuscripts on June 8th – 120%,


Galerie Bassange.  15th – 19th Century Prints on May 26th, 100%


These houses are doing consistently well.


For the week ahead 15 sales are scheduled:


Monday June 13th                 Christie’s.  Books

Wednesday June 15th          Christie’s.  Vintage Film Posters

                                                Dominic Winter.  Printed Books and Maps

Thursday June 16th              Dominic Winter.  Children’s and Illustrated Books

PBA Galleries.  Fine Literature, Illustrated and Children’s Books

Friday June 17th                   Kiefer – Buch – und Kunstauktionen.  Books [77a]

Le Libraure Alain Ferraton.  Ancient & Modern Books – Drawings & Prints – first vacation

                                                Sotheby’s.  Fine Books and Manuscripts

                                                The Romantic Agony.  Books

Saturday June 18th               Coutau-Begarie.  Comics

                                                Kiefer – Buch – und Kunstauktionen.   Books [77b]

                                                Kiefer – Buch – und Kunstauktionen.   Books [77c]

Le Libraire Alain Ferraton.  Ancient & Modern Books – Drawings & Prints – first vacation

                                                The Romantic Agony.  Books

Sunday June 19th                  Bonhams.  Sunset Estates – Books and Manuscripts


Even into the inevitable summer slowdown the pace of auctions continue to be brisk.


Bruce McKinney


June 12th, 2011

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Manhattan Gay Scene Guide 1969, Summer Edition,</i> Mattachine Book Service. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Harvey Milk, 2 autograph letters signed, to Pat Mormon, during US Navy service, 1954. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>“The secret of life is in Art,”</i> autograph quotation dated and signed, 1882. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Daniel Abraham, original art for <i>Stonewall Romances,</i> pen, ink & gouache, 1979. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Antonio Lopez, 9 men’s fashion studies, graphite, 1974. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Susie Gaynes & Amy E. Bartell, <i>March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights,</i> 1987. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> <i>Paris is Burning,</i> photo offset poster by Anne Dutlinger, signed by film director Jennie Livingston, 1991. $400 to $600.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> Toyen, pen & ink illustration from <i>Marquis de Sade: Justina cili prokletí ctnosti,</i> 1932. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 13:</b> David Wojnarowicz, <i>Untitled (Genet with Dog),</i> mixed media collage. $8,000 to $12,000.