US Coins

117 rare auction catalogs: How much they brought

A set of 117 hardcover Bowers and Merena auction catalogs from 1986 to 2004 sold for $1,762.50.

Original images courtesy Kolbe and Fanning Numismatic Booksellers.

Collectors continue to seek out the rarest examples of numismatic literature to help build their libraries and add depth to their collections. Kolbe and Fanning Numismatic Booksellers held its most recent auction of important numismatic literature on Oct. 21 to 22.

The top lot, an 1884 German auction catalog featuring the first known photograph of the Dexter 1804 Draped Bust dollar, sold for $4,700. Other auction catalogs featured heavily among the top lots, as collectors value owning physical records of rare sales. 

Here is the second of three notable lots we're focusing on in this week's Market Analysis:

The Lot:

Virtually complete set of 117 hardcover Bowers and Merena catalogs 

The Price:


The Story:

Today, as auction records are uploaded online almost immediately after sale, physical copies of auction catalogs may be seen as redundant. However, physical auction catalogs are essential for researchers looking for sales from Bowers and Merena, which merged with Stack’s to become Stack’s Bowers Galleries.

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Kolbe and Fanning’s auction included a run of 117 hardcover Bowers and Merena auctions from 1986 to 2004, with many famed name sales — Norweb, Eliasberg, Bass, the Champa Library, just to name a few. The group was described as “arguably the most important series of American numismatic auction catalogues of the 1980s and 1990s.” Later hardcover issues are rare, and the offering provided an opportunity for a researcher or collector to acquire an instant library.

Keep reading about Kolbe and Fanning's sale of rare catalogs:

Thomas Elder 1911 catalogFamed researcher and photographer behind rare auction catalog that topped $2,900: One of the most prolific American numismatic researchers and photographers of the early twentieth century put it together.

King Farouk collection catalogKing Farouk’s 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle in 1954 catalog that just sold: In 1954 Sotheby’s held a London auction titled “The Palace Collections of Egypt” containing the numismatic holding of Egypt’s King Farouk.

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