Rare Book Sale Monitor Update – 3rd Quarter 2015

by Admin on October 16, 2015 · Market Analysis, Uncategorized

RBSM leaders & laggards

The Rare Book Sale Monitor (RBSM) has been tracking the sales performance of “blue chips” for some of the major genre of rare books. In addition the author breakdown follows some of the most frequently traded authors of books that are considered rare, in order to track their performance. The sampling selection included in each of these breakdowns while not complete, is a sufficient representation from which conclusions about the entire population may be derived.

On a smaller scale sample, some prices can be affected in the short term by factors such as cultural events, the death of an author, a new biography or film and thus cause the more general trend to be misinterpreted. But, as is the case with larger samples, demand is set by larger forces such as the long-standing cultural reassessment of an author’s work which contributes towards a trend setting that reflects the overall performance.

In 2014 our RBSM recorded price increases for most of the genre and authors that we have been tracking. 2015 is showing similar trends. While the RBSM index is not a measure of return on investment, it does capture the general valuation trend that different types of rare books and authors are exhibiting through sales at a number of different channels during each quarterly period.

During the last four years, the RBSM has been performing its functions in the background, using data from auctions, on-line sales and book fair sales. The tool has now reached the point that it can be used to generate inductive reasoning through the data collected. In other words, future hypotheses as to which rare book titles may climb or drop in price during the next year or so, can be derived.

Without any further introduction and listed in no particular ranking, below are some of the titles that the RBSM algorithm is projecting to lead in value appreciation in the near future:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, Return of the King). London: George Allen and Unwin, 1954-55.
2. Joyce, James Ulysses. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935. Limited edition of 1500 copies, with 6 original, soft-ground etchings by Henri Matisse and 20 reproductions of preliminary drawings on yellow and blue paper. Signed by Henry Matisse.
3. Graham, Benjamin & David L. Dodd. Security Analysis: Principles and Technique. New York: McGraw Hill, 1934. Any first edition printing with or without the dust jacket.
4. Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Doubleday and Company, 1968. First printing with Dick’s signature.
5. J.R.R. Tolkien. The Hobbit. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1937. First impression with dust jacket in very good condition.
6. Dahl, Roald. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964. First printing signed by Dahl.
7. Wilson, Bill. Alcoholics Anonymous. New York: Works Publishing Company. First printings with dust jacket are obscure. Other editions also desirable as long as in good very good condition.
8. Dickens, Charles. The Christmas Books (A Christmas Carol; The Chimes; The Battle of Life; Cricket on the Hearth; The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain). London: Chapman and Hall 1843-48. First issue of this wonderful set.

Some of the laggards in the near future are projected to be:
1. Herbert, Frank. Dune. Philadelphia and New York: Chilton Books, 1965.
2. Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1951.
3. Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1892.

These are among the titles that contributed to the overall third quarter performance of the corresponding genre/author breakdowns exhibited below. Price increases were above normal for books of science as well as books by the authors Faulkner and Dickens.


RBSM 2015-Q3

RBSM Genre Breakdown – Q3 2015

RBSM 2015-Q3 Author

RBSM Author Breakdown – Q3 2015



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Constantine Trikas January 5, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I was wondering if you could provide some more insight into the data and how this index is calculated? Also – I am putting together some research around rare book performance over the years and was hoping the data would be available to look at?


Joe February 10, 2016 at 9:43 pm

Cal you please clarify exactly what the chart is showing? Are you showing rates or return on the horizontal axis? Is it rolling annual or per quarter? For example are you saying modern first editions appreciated by 7% in Q4 14 or did they appreciate at an annual rate of 7% that quarter or am I completely reading that wrong? I really like what you’re doing, and I am in finance and have thought about how to structure a vehicle like this.


Admin February 11, 2016 at 3:08 am

Charts are broken up by quarter. Units are not percentages, they show comparable sales activity.


A.E. Tishman February 14, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Where is Papa Hemingway? Are your results saying his work — especially A FAREWELL TO ARMS — his only limited, numbered signed edition of his entire career — is just simply nowhere to be found?


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