On Saturday, July 14, Kolbe & Fanning Numismatic Booksellers held their live online auction of highlights from the John W. Adams Library. The Adams Library was strongest in classic American auction catalogues, an area of the numismatic books market that has been somewhat weak in recent years due to the proliferation of online resources and other factors.

That market came roaring back on Saturday, as record prices were repeatedly realized for sales by the Chapman brothers, Tom Elder, Ed Frossard, Lyman Low, and others. John W. Adams Library of Numismatic Books and Catalogues included exceptionally rare plated catalogues from a number of different firms, as well as seemingly unremarkable, but extremely rare, unplated sales necessary to those striving to complete sets of given cataloguers. A few of the more extraordinary results follow:

Lot 28: David Proskey’s annotated copy of the Bushnell sale (S.H. & H. Chapman, 1882), with plates, brought $20,400 (all prices here include the 20% buyers’ premium).

Lot 58: a bound volume of eight Chapman brothers sales including the very rare H.M. Smith stamp sale, brought an amazing $21,600 on a $750 estimate.

Lot 63: the rare Charles Morris sale with plates (S.H. & H. Chapman, 1905), brought $15,600 on a $2000 estimate, after aggressive bidding by several parties.

Lot 70: S.H. Chapman’s 1909 sale of the Charles Gordon Zug collection, with plates, brought $18,000 on an estimate of $5000.

Lot 127: Virgil Brand’s copy of the extraordinarily rare J.B. Chase Sale with plates (Tom Elder, 1907), brought $19,200 on a $2000 estimate.

Lot 133: a bound volume of Elder sales, including his very rare 37th sale (1910) with plates, brought $20,400 on an estimate of $3500.

Lot 144: Elder’s extremely rare Sale 89 (1913), an unillustrated, self-covered, 16-page production, brought perhaps the most shocking price, realizing $13,200 on a $350 estimate.

John W. Adams Library of Numismatic Books and Catalogues Lot 218:  ( Image on left) A finely bound volume including plated copies of Ed Frossard’s 90th and 97th sales (1898), brought $24,000 on a $1000 estimate.

Lot 252: Lyman Low’s own set of early fixed price catalogues, sold for $16,800 on an estimate of $1500.

Lot 340: the extremely rare catalogue of United States Coin Company’s 1917 sale of the Dr. French collection, featuring a plate of Colombian gold coins, realized $18,000 against a $2500 estimate.
These astonishing results were joined by many others that, in a less spectacular sale, would deserve press releases of their own. The 368-lot sale (which took nearly six hours to complete!) realized over 160% of the pre-sale estimate, bringing over $550,000 with the premium.

Kolbe & Fanning extend our thanks to all who took part in this wonderful John W. Adams Library of Numismatic Books and Catalogues sale, and are happy to state that reports of the death of the numismatic book market in this country are greatly exaggerated.

To view the John W. Adams Library of Numismatic Books catalogue , or to download the prices realized list, visit Kolbe & Fanning’s website at numislit.com.

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