Results of first rare book auction in St. Petersburg announced

St. Petersburg Dom Knigi and the Auction House of the Russian Federation (AHR) have announced the results of the first rare book auction. The auction was held on 14 December in the atrium of Singer House on Nevsky Prospect.

“In Moscow, rare book auctions have become customary and are held every month. As for Petersburg, this is the first event of this kind in our city. The auction was held with a full hall, and 68 lots were sold for a sum of 2.5 million rubles (total starting price of lots sold 1.7 million rubles). The ratio of increase was 1.4,” says the leading expert of the Auction House of the Russian Federation Svetlana Chestnykh.

The auction was of interest not only to bibliophiles, but to the museum community as well. Two lots: Ye.S. Shumigorsky’s book “Empress Maria Fyodorovna” and a Ticket for admission of carriage to ceremonial locations during the visit of the Their Imperial Highnesses to Moscow in August 1912 – were removed from auction and given as a gift on behalf of the Auction House of the Russian Federation to the Peterhof Museum.

Besides books published in the period from the early 19th to the second half of the 20th century, city maps, stamps, posters, shares and documents were put up for auction. This approach helped to attract a wider audience to the auction. Additionally, the results of the auction showed that there is buyer interest in practically all collecting fields.

The main attention at the auction was drawn to publications on art. The four-volume work “The History of Art of All Times and Peoples” edited by Alexandre Benois, 1912, was sold for 224,000 rubles. This work is one of the most valuable and expensive lots of the auction. Bidders also took an interest in the album of new Russian art published in 1913 by the Moscow Guild “Education”. The sale price was 25,300 rubles, with a starting price of 15,000 rubles.

The book “Russian Art of the 19th Century. The moveable exhibitions of the guild of moveable art exhibitions over the last six years (1890-1895)”, written in 1896 by N. P. Sobkov (sale price 62,000 rubles, starting price 25,000 rubles) was also sold with a price increase. Furthermore, there was a serious battle for the collection of engravings of N. Mosolov devoted to Rembrandt. With a starting price of 30,000 rubles, the entire set was purchased for 97,700 rubles.

A good sale result was sold in the historical book section. “Note of Empress Catherine the Great”, published in 1907, was sold for 80,500 rubles, “Cyril and Methodius” by V.A. Bilbasov published in 1868 was sold for 69,000 rubles (starting price 35,000 rubles), “Geographical, Historical and Statistical Description of the Stavropegial First-Rank Solovki Monastery” by Archimandrite Dosifei, 1836, for 190,000 rubles (starting price 95,000 rubles). With an increase of almost seven times, the book by Henrich Staden “On Ivan Grozny’s Moscow. Notes of a German Oprichnik” was sold. With a starting price of 5,000 rules, the book was sold for 34,500 rubles.

In this section, a unique publication was sold – a collection of materials on the history and literature of the war – the non-periodical journal “White Archive”, which was published in Paris in 1926-1928 (sale price 23,000 rubles).

Works from the “History of Morals” category drew considerable interest from auction participants. The book by the German writer Bredt “Morality and Immorality in Art” was sold with the largest increase of 11.5 times (sale price 34,500 rubles, starting price 3,000 rubles), and the album of Remizov-Vasiliev “Cupid’s Mischief” published in 1913 was sold with an increase of almost four times (sale price 41,400 rubles, starting price 10,000 rubles).

Books concerning religion were also popular at the auction – “Three Conversations between a Priest and Parishioners on the True Path to Salvation” published in 1816 (sale price 115,000), the Holy Books of the Old Testament translated from the Jewish text, year of publication 1888 (sale price 69,000 rubles) and the book by Hegumen Feodosy, the superior of the Orthodox church in Pennsylvania, “Who are the masters of delicious spice? Who are they? Read and find out, don’t read and become enslaved” of 1921 (sale price 10,300 rubles

Auction participants also showed interest in literature of the 20th century. The collected poems and songs of Alexander Galich “When I Return” of 1986, and the anthology “Generation of the Doomed” published in 1975 were sold for 5,700 rubles, and Anastasia Tsvetaeva’s work “My Siberia” with a dedicatory inscription and autograph on the title page was sold for 2,900 rubles.

“We have a positive assessment of this event, and would like to continue holding auctions. A rare book auction is very appropriate for Dom Knigi, and broadens our sphere of activity. At the same time, we realize that we have only taken the first step, and that rare book auctions should gain a name and reputation among the rare book lovers of our city. And this will be a lengthy process” (Maria Grusheva, member of the board of directors of St. Petersburg Dom Knigi).

“In general, the auction may be considered a success, both by the results of the auction and the interest shown by Petersburgers. We hope that rare book auctions will become a regular tradition for our city and bring dividends both to Dom Knigi and the Auction House of the Russian Federation, and most importantly to book lovers, the Petersburg rare book society” (Andrei Stepanenko, general director of the Auction House of the Russian Federation).