Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Auction: Photobooks, May 21, 2010 @Christie's South Kensington

We're now quite a few years into the establishment of the secondary market for photobooks, with Swann and Christie's having emerged as the dominant players and Bloomsbury beginning to ramp up efforts as well. As the market becomes more liquid, the "usual suspects" are starting to be become more standardized, with iconic and well known titles (often well correlated with the Parr/Badger anthologies) showing up in every sale. This sale has its fair share of these books, as well as a strong group of photobooks from Central Europe, carved off in their own special section. Overall, there are a total of 136 lots on offer, with a Total High Estimate of £347400. (Catalog cover at right, via Christie's.)

Given the pricing realities of collectible photobooks, I've modified the scale used for photographs and brought the various thresholds down a bit to better reflect the spirit of the labels Low, Mid, and High. I'll apply this scale to photobook sales on a going forward basis (adjusted for different currencies). As such, here's the revised statistical breakdown:

Total Low Lots (high estimate up to and including £800): 38
Total Low Estimate (sum of high estimates of Low lots): £26000

Total Mid Lots (high estimate between £800 and £5000): 88
Total Mid Estimate: £202400

Total High Lots (high estimate above £5000): 10
Total High Estimate: £119000

The top lot by High estimate is lot 265 (the cover lot), Emmet Gowin, Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself, 1965, at £18000-25000.

This is a diverse photobook sale, with most of the photographers/book makers represented by a single lot. Only a handful are represented by three or more lots in the sale (with the number of lots in parentheses):

Nobuyoshi Araki (4)
Josef Sudek (4)
Shomei Tomatsu (4)
Karl Blossfeldt (3)
Yasuhiro Ishimoto (3)

The complete lot by lot catalog can be found here. The eCatalogue is located here.

May 21st

85 Old Brompton Road
London SW7 3LD

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