Welcome to Rare Books Insider. We use Moneyball tactics to discover undervalued, mispriced, and hidden gems in Fractional Investing.
There was no trading on any fractional markets last week, so the Rare Books Index was flat just above even for 2021.
Last week’s performance
Last week, 16,814 lots sold for $74,408,331 as 83% of all lots sold. That’s more than the prior week with the Constitution sale. That week, the average item (minus the Constitution) sold for around $1,000. Last week, the average item sold for around $4,000.
Several historic documents were included in the same collection as the Constitution, which helped bolster the averages. One of these, the Bill of Rights, sold for $1.5m.
However, the Bill of Rights was not the highest ticket item of the week: that prize went to a sole surviving manuscript on general relativity, written by Albert Einstein and Michele Besso. It sold for over $13m. Einstein was notorious for not saving his writing, so this document only survived thanks to Besso.
The other 7 figure sale was Frank Herbert’s Dune. Well, not quite. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s storyboard for the movie adaptation that never was became the most expensive storyboard sale ever going for over $3m. This adaptation planned to have a Pink Floyd soundtrack and star Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali. Undoubtedly, Villeneuve’s recent film adaptation drove the enthusiasm, but there is likely much to be inspired by Jodorowsky’s vision.
This week and next week
An auction lot of Mormon documents valued at over $3m were listed last week. Among the lot are three first edition Books of Mormon.
There’s a lot to like this week at Sotheby’s with first editions from William Blake, JK Rowling, George Orwell, JRR Tolkien, and Ian Fleming on the block. Estimates range from $10k to $70k, though I reckon at least three will exceed expectations.
There’s also a slightly-battered first edition of Lord of the Flies with a more budget-friendly estimate of $3k to $5k.
As mentioned last week, Heritage is running a signature auction ending in a week, and there are dozens of household names to be had. The specialism is first editions of books that have been turned into films.