‘Democratized’ Book, Map, and Manuscript Auctions Promise Finds in All Price Ranges

With wide price ranges and expert curation Catawiki appeals to buyers and sellers alike.

Pablo Neruda

Since its founding in 2008, Catawiki—an international online auction platform headquartered in the Netherlands—has not only become the most-visited online marketplace in Europe for special objects selected by experts, but it has also made the auction world more accessible to sellers and collectors alike. The platform is now so popular that it offers 65,000 lots to 10 million site visitors every week, including close to 2,000 book, map, and manuscript sales.

“Although we make no claims to rival the most exclusive auction houses, we are offering a more democratic quality,” says Marc Harrison, category manager of Books, Manuscripts, and Cartography at Catawiki. “Discerning buyers can find good quality and rare items to add to their collections—yet there is something for every level of collector.”

Built for collectors by collectors, Catawiki blends the online auction model, which allows international sellers to easily post items for sale in numerous categories, with the traditional auction house model, in which each lot is curated by worldwide experts using their extensive knowledge of their subject matter. The platform promises additional security for buyers, as payment is only released to sellers after purchases are received.


Emile Zola

Meanwhile, Catawiki experts offer sellers support whether they are selling individual items or moving their entire inventory online, often in a matter of days. Catawiki has also helped sellers navigate the pandemic.

“I am proud of the way the books team has responded to COVID-19,” Harrison says. “We have been available for our sellers and helped many small businesses make the transition to online selling and make contact with buyers in an uncertain world.”

Though Catawiki offers books and works on paper at a variety of price points, the platform has also increasingly focused on higher value items and themed sales. For example, Catawiki recently held a multi-seller auction of 70 Bibles in many languages and styles dated from 1493 onwards, though most lots originated from a single private collection.The lots realized an average sale price of €700 or $830.

On November 6, Catawiki also launched an exclusive Book, Map,and Manuscript auction, which featured many rare finds, including a court summons issued to Emile Zola from when he appealed a defamation conviction related to the Alfred Dreyfus case. As of printing, results have not yet been realized, but Catawiki expects strong sales throughout the auction. However, due to the popularity of this first exclusive sale with sellers, Catawiki already plans to hold regular exclusive book and manuscript auctions, the next of which will begin November 27 at 10 UTC and will end on December 6 at 18:01 UTC.

Before that sale, Catawiki will also hold another themed auction from November 13 at 10 UTC until November 25 at 18:01 UTC centering on the works of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda from a collection Harrison calls “one of the most comprehensive to come to market in recent years.” The sale will include nearly 250 books—mostly signed first editions or dedicated works by the author—black and white photographs, handwritten poems, and more.

No matter what price point buyers or sellers are looking for, Catawiki’s unique structure opens up the world of collecting to everyone.

“Dutch business is well known for having a ‘flat’ hierarchy, and this shows in our auctions too,” Harrison says. “They are accessible to all, yet raise the bar for every collector. They give every buyer items to aim for, as well as items they can easily afford.”

To view the upcoming Pablo Neruda sale, visit here and here.

To view the December Exclusive Books and Manuscripts auction, visit here.