Saturday, May 17, 2008

Auction Report

- The collection of William McGonagall poems (he's the poet dubbed the world's worst) sold in Edinburgh yesterday for £6600. The lot included 35 broadside poems, some signed by McGonagall himself. Both buyer and seller remain anonymous.

- A 1954 letter by Albert Einstein in which the famed scientist disparages religious beliefs ("The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this") sold at Bloomsbury for a whopping £207,600 (with premiums), just about quadrupling the previous Einstein auction record. Presale estimates were £6,000-8,000. The buyer, according to media reports, is a private collector. Bloomsbury managing director Rupert Powell "said the atmosphere in the sale room went from excitement, to disappointment as various bidders dropped out, to disbelief at the rocketing price."

- Also in the Bloomsbury sale, a copy of Thomas Rowlandson's The World in Miniature (1817) better than doubled its estimates, selling for £12,500. A first edition of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) fetched £2,200, while a first of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone made £11,000. A rare second edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (1776) sold for £8,000. A first edition of the Nuremburg Chronicle (1493), with the plates colored, didn't quite make its estimate, but fetched £88,000. Last but certainly not least, a first edition of Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica (1543) went for £120,000.