I want to write about the state of the collector market with an in depth look at a recent auction. Specifically Bonhams History of Science; an auction consisting of a wide variety of scientific materials including about 40 lots of globes and related planetaria. This auction took place Wednesday October 22nd 2014 in New York. This many globes in one auction is a rare event and the caliber of the offerings was quite good. The complete auction results are available at this link: Bonhams History of Science
I want to look in depth at about 7 lots that are really going to tell us a lot about the state of the collector market today please review the link for pictures, and further descriptions. Understand that I'm going to give my opinion I claim no official expertise! So lets start our post mortem.....
1. Lot 12: A Teaching globe Holbrook & Co. 1850, this is a lovely 5 inch globe made from wood, and mounted on a turned stand, a lovely example of a very hard to find American globe, sold inclusive of buyers premium for $650. This is a rare globe, very rare, and in the condition presented I think the price was on the low side. A great buy on a very early Holbrook piece
2. Lot 17: Spherical Educator globe, Holbrook, 1855. This hinged globe was a very popular school globe manufactured by the Holbrook School Aparatus company this is the 3 inch version, also a 5 inch version was made, lots of these were made, few survive, as is evidenced by the $2000 result, a proper price, for this globe, to complete a collection of American globes one must obtain an example of this Holbrook design, it is too important not to. This 3 inch example was in nice shape considering it's history in the class room and early manufacture.
3. Lot 22: J Schedlers terrestrial globe 1868, This lot gave us the chance to own a decent example of a Schedler globe, on a desirable cast iron acanthus leaf stand, condition wise the glove showed well, with age appropriate soil. Schedler globes are difficult to find in any condition and this globe brought $937 in my mind that seems correct.
4. Lot 23: Miniature Tabletop globe, Andrews, 1870. This diminutive globe is a mere 3 inches in diameter, and mounted onto a beautiful turned wood stand, The smallest of Andrews globes this is a desirable globe! I've never seen another, it suffered from a very darkened surface, still legible. Sold for $1,187 I'm tempted to say that it might have deserved to do better. This globe checks all the boxes, as close to a pocket globe as any American globe could be. A great buy
5. Lot 27: Tabletop globe 6 inch Rand McNally, 1892. This is Rand McNally's 6 inch school globe, the same globe I own an example of ( See my post Google earth 1892) well this little gem sold for $1,000 and let me tell you as nice as this example is, this buyer overpaid, no way around it. Auction fever took hold. Why would this globe sell for 40% more than the much rarer Holbrook ( Lot 12 ) and almost as much as the Andrews ( Lot 23) Only in a live sale room setting can a price disconnect like this take place.
6. Lot 31: Crams Tabletop globe, 1934: Readers, please click on the link above, and scroll down to see a picture of this globe.......I'll wait.............OK now this is a Crams globe from 1934, sold for $625 . Excuse me??? what planet are we on? Is that dollars or Pesos, actually even if it were Pesos it would still be too much! A fool and their money are soon parted, and let me say whoever purchased this globe for this price, please call me I've got some other globes to sell you!! Now to be fair I did not read the description, did Marilyn Monroe own it? Was it on JFK's desk? Only then could I understand this.
7. Lot 42: Trippensee Planetarium, 1908: This is a nice example of a Trippensee Planetarium, an older example, no carring case, and condition looks good, and in working order, sold for a hefty $3,500 certainly at the very top of the market, that is almost a high retail number, again, a live auction will produce an anomaly like this.
8. Lot 43: Globe reference books, a lot of 20 or so globe related publications, sold for $375, reading a partial list of what was included, this was a very fair, bargain price, probably the buy of the auction, because some of these publications are very hard to find, GREAT BUY!!!
Ok, Ok, lots of opinion shared, but hey it's my blog so I feel entitled to, ha ha seriously, This auction was a very interesting look at American, and European globes, I did not discuss the British and German pocket globes that sold, but there were quite a few, and they are hard to find, and this auction had a dozen examples, WOW!
I have to speculate that the bulk of these items came from one consignee, especially all of the early American globes, whoever assembled this collection did it with a connoisseurs eye, I'm sure it took a long time to do and It just goes to show that there have been people interested in this material and quietly collecting it for quite awhile, a delightful auction.
Now for full disclosure, I was registered to bid by telephone on 3 lots, numbers 12, 22, and 23 so why am I not the proud owner, of any of these globes? Well life gets in the way sometimes, and I missed the auction, I regret missing Lot 12 the most, that Holbrook globe is as good as it gets when you talk about American globes, if the person who owns that globe reads this blog, enjoy your purchase you made a good one, and please when you are ready to pass it to the next collector, contact me! I'll make you a fair offer!
Please feel free to comment, disagree, and discuss