Bloomsbury Sets Loose the Dogs of Deflation

In a recent column, I discussed deflation coming to the rare book world, with particular emphasis on the auction houses.

In my mailbox this morning comes news that Bloomsbury, the auction house that has been leading the market to realistic reserves, has now made it official with their first No Reserve Bibliophile Sale.

The sale features property from Heritage Book Shop, Colonial Williamsburg and
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and will occur this Tuesday, June 30, at 2PM in New York.

Here's their blow-out the competition deal: Minimum bid is [drumroll] $25. Twenty-five dollars.

This is major. While Bloomsbury is clearly trying to move the goods, the goods ain't bad.

"The Bibliophile Sale includes historic, modern and contemporary works in addition to an manuscript letter written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and signed to Elizabeth Craig Clarkson written the day after he was accepted at Princeton (15 September 1913) with the original mailing envelope. 'I am in a particularly despondent and dissipated mood. Outside the sun is shining but I am perfectly positive it is only doing it out of spite...So I sign myself your humble Servant Francis Scott Fitzgerald.' It was a humorous and playful letter which was to influence much of his life ($3000-$5000.)

"Also included in the 20th Century grouping is a 22 volume illustrated set of Mark Twain's Works (1923). Bound for Brentano's in contemporary red levant half morocco over red cloth boards, spines tooled and lettered in gilt ($3000-$4000.) A rare large paper copy of Rousseau's complete works in contemporary full tree calf binding is contained in 38 volumes, Paris (1788-1793) Engraved frontispieces, Nouvelle ?dition, ($5000-$7000.) Other titles include: The Works, Jonathan Swift 1755. 6 volumes, $1200-$1800, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain (1885.) A first American edition, early issue. $1000-1500. Babbitt Sinclair Lewis (1922) First edition $1000-$1500 and Tractatus de corde(1669) Amsterdam Richard Lower $1500-$2500."

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Bloomsbury is opening the market to bidders who may not have ever dreamed it possible to get this close to desired material. Eyes will be fixed on the percentage of lots sold and what the sale prices were. The market is  finally beginning to correct itself to new realities.

View the full catalogue to the Bloomsbury No Reserve Bibliophile Sale here.