Is it a good read?
By William Gregory MRICS, Golding Young and Mawer.
Auctioning books has always been an important part of the saleroom. As far back as the 18th century the Georgian gentleman’s library was a representation of wealth and knowledge.
Library collections were amassed by the great and the good, often to be later bequeathed to public galleries and institutions.
Book collectors differ from other auction goers as they have greater experience of buying items unseen.
The convention was that book dealers would produce monthly or quarterly sales catalogues from which collectors would purchase on the understanding that the book would be as catalogued. This sale agreement leads to a form of catalogue description which can be detailed, whilst using abbreviations, often lengthy and rarely succinct – but always a good read, even if the books aren’t.
This also allowed the antique and secondhand book market to trade internationally as early as the Victorian times.
In today’s auction market, with online catalogues plus live internet bidding, the antiques and collectable sectors are all international, but the book collectors’ market with its traditions still has an influence in modern times.
Illustrated are some recent book lots sold at auction.