Issue #162  7/10/2009
Christie's Photo Book Sale: Nothing to Write Home About

On the same afternoon, Christie's photography book sale took in just over 285,000 pounds (about $489,000) with its 25% buyers' premium. The sell-through rate was just under 63%--nothing to write home about, but not terrible either. Estimates on many of the lots seemed higher than retail--some ridiculously so.

As you might expect, there weren't very many lots that broke over 6,000 pounds, even with the buyers' premium. And most lots sold within or below their estimates.

Lot 2, Peter H. Emerson's "Marsh Leaves" sold for 6,250 pounds. Three volumes of "Neues Baueun in Der Welt" (lot 15) sold for 8,750. Lot 30, Georges Hugnet's "La Septième Face du Dé" sold for the auction's top price of 11,250 pounds (although a later lot matched this figure). Laure Albin-Guillot's noteworthy "Douze Chansons de Bilitis" sold for just a bit more at 6,875 pounds as did the last copy that sold at auction during the 2002 Paris Jammes sale (8000 euro at about $1.15 to the euro at the time).

One lot (#49) that did considerably better than its catalogue estimate range was Zdenek Tmej's "Abeceda Dusevniho Prazdna", which sold for a cool 10,000 pounds against an estimate of 4,000-6,000 pounds.

One of the few Ed Ruscha items to sell well was lot 111, "Dutch Details", a portfolio that was largely destroyed. It sold for its low estimate at 11,250 euro.

Another item that handily beat its pre-sale estimate was lot 126, a rare complete set of the influential Japanese publication, "Workshop". Estimated at 2,000-3,000 pounds, the set sold for a whopping 8,750 pounds.

Finally, Stephen Shore's "Uncommon Places" with an original signed Ektacolor print sold for under its estimate at 6,875 pounds.