In the midst of the Greece crisis reaching yet another boiling point, the RBSM recorded little or no change in ancient, classical Greek authors’ works covering history, science, geography, philosophy and literature. It has definitely not been the type of economic event with significant impact on antiquarian books. The supply of ancient Greek books got saturated by international buyers back in the Grand Tour years, when the few that ventured to make the trip to Greece, under Turkish rule then, collected some of the best literature the nation’s authors had to offer.
The RBSM remained equally unreceptive to racially motivated incidents in the United States that took place during this quarter. Some collectors saw a reason to hunt down rare black history books or books that had at some point been banned due to racially offensive content, and books decorated with the “southern cross,” the Confederacy’s unofficial emblem. Last year California passed a bill that banned the state government from displaying or selling merchandise bearing the Confederate flag and South Carolina finally lowered the flag on state capitol grounds last week. Hmm, I better hold on to my 1936 copy of “Gone with the Wind” that came with the unique “Southern Cross” binding.
A modern science fiction novel reached scarcity overnight almost, at the beginning of this 2nd Quarter. Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One,” 1st printing, 1st edition vanished from the market the moment science fiction genre collectors found out that Steven Spielberg will direct the movie adaptation of the 2011 novel. Yet another example of what the non all-inclusive, but well-represented sample index approach is built not to capture. At such a smaller scale, some prices can be affected in the short term by events, such as a new film announcement but the RBSM is designed to capture the longer term market trends affected by larger forces.
Here is what the Monitor did signal: A long time in the making trend that first appeared around the middle of the year 2012. J.R.R.Tolkien book prices for the first editions, in very good condition and sometimes with special features, such as autographs, presentations, inscriptions and so forth, begun to climb steadily. Rare books such as the 1937 fantasy, “The Hobbit” and the sequel trilogy “The Lord of the Rings,” pushed the author’s ranking higher at both on-line marketplaces and at auction events. A long-standing cultural reassessment of J.R.R.Tolkien’s work and its effect on our history and importance has reached its prime.
In the genre breakdown, the Monitor signaled that “Art, Photography and Architecture,” spiked upward once again after settling at lower pricing levels for quite some time. Original, early architectural works by Leon Battista Alberti and Marcus Vitruvius Pollio have joined the upsurge of interest exhibited by important works of art during the past few months. Photography is the only obvious lagging sector of this movement that remained relatively inactive during the period. This represents the highest level recorded by “Art, Photography and Architecture,” and it will require Photography books to also record positive gains to help push even higher.