Published: April 26, 2022
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Litchfield Auctions
LITCHFIELD, CONN. – A sell-through rate of about 83 percent of 270 lots of antiquarian and contemporary books and ephemera was the result of Litchfield Auctions’ April 13 Books & Ephemera sale, which saw a combined total of $87,048, within the presale expectations of approximately $70/100,000.
A representative for the auction house said, “There was good interest from book buyers throughout. Online bidding was competitive with a high volume of bidders; all but two lots sold to online bidders.”
The high price of the sale at $8,125 was reached about one-third of the way through the sale, for the first English translation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, translated by Thomas Nicholls and published in 1550 by William Tylle of London. The volume had come from a private New Jersey collection and had an ink inscription “Stephen Gaselee 24 Ashburn Place London, S.W. 7./ Acquired from Col. F. Isaac, Sch.1935.” The condition included a later binding, worn old calf, both covers were detached, it had loss to spine and toning to the edges but that did not deter interest.
Bidding opened the day of the auction with back and forth competition between two online bidders and a phone bidder and continued for two minutes, with one internet bidder dropping out halfway through. The remaining online bidder went head to head with the phone bidder, a trade buyer who ultimately prevailed against the online bidder.
The same New Jersey collection was the source of the second highest tome in the sale, a 1936 limited edition of dancer drawings titled Degas Danse Dessin by Paul Valêry that had been published by Ambroise Vollard in Paris. Numbered 162 from an edition of 305 copies, the volume had been printed on BFK Rives paper and included 26 plates by Degas. Estimated at $5/8,000, it danced out the door to an online trade buyer for $5,330.
Limited editions are perennial favorites and rounding out the top three at $1,950 was a 22 volume set of The History of Egypt that had been published by the Grolier Society and printed by William Clowes and Sons in London in 1906. It numbered 186 of 200 editions and had come from a Park Avenue duplex apartment. A Connecticut buyer, bidding online, prevailed against competition. The same consignor sold a similar limited edition Grolier Society History of India in nine volumes, which finished at $1,820.
Most lots are rare, but a particularly unusual offering was a group of three lots of Dunbar furniture store material catalogs, offered in consecutive box lots from the estate of a New York City modernism dealer, each lot offered at $200/300. The first of the three lots finished at $1,430, the second closed at $1,105 and the third achieved $1,820. The auction house confirmed that the same buyer, bidding online from Connecticut, took all three lots.
The same estate was selling a total of 41 lots, in a variety of topics. A group lot of 21 Twentieth Century books on French interiors and décor scored $1,560, slightly ahead of a 35-volume lot of books on Italian art and decoration that bidders pushed to $1,170.
For buyers who might have been betting on a undiscovered rarity in an unsorted book collection, three lots from a Northwest Connecticut collection fit the bill. About 100 boxes were separated into three lots that were cataloged as “Large unsorted book collection” and each lot was offered at $700-$1,000. The first lot of 33 boxes brought $553 from a buyer in Florida, the same price a buyer from Rhode Island paid for the second lot. The final lot will be staying in Connecticut, for $618.
Litchfield Auctions’ next sale will be Luxury and Jewelry on May 18.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For information, 860-5467-4661 or www.litchfieldcountyauctions.com.
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