is based in London, though it has recently opened offices in Rome, and soon will open another branch in New York City. They have sales almost every week, with anywhere from two or three hundred lots up to almost a thousand, with the larger sales taking more than one day to work through. Approximately half of these auctions have items of interest to Tolkien collectors.
Some items have reserves placed on them by the seller. Items will sell for the lowest possible price, when taking into account other bidders and the reserve (this is very much like how eBay works.) If you cannot attend an auction in person, you can place a bid by email or phone before the auction, or ask that an auctioneer call you for live bidding. [I have done both email bidding and live bidding and been pleased with both. -Jeremy] There is a premium of 19% on the winning bid for lots up to £150,000 (in London, other cities limits will be posted when available) and then 10% on any remaining bid amount over £150,000.
It is interesting to look over the archive of Bloomsbury auction results
, going back to late 1998. This was before the movie hype had really hit, and there are only a handful of items that came up for sale in that time. A large number of items came up for sale right around when The Fellowship of the Ring
came out in December of 2001. Since then, there have been many more items coming up for sale, and going for much higher final bids. There was a definite peak in prices right at the beginning of 2002 when the hype was very high, and prices have settled down a bit since then.
For example, the lonely Beowulf - The Monsters and the Critics
in Bloomsbury Sale #378
, that went unsold with an estimate of £50 in August of 2000. Good luck finding that book at that price today! Compare that with the Silmarillion
first edition that sold in Bloomsbury Sale #422
for £80. These can still be found today for a quarter of that price.
Auction results need to be taken with a grain of salt, but they show good trends in where the Tolkien market is, and are sometimes the only record for unique items and what people are willing to pay for them. There was a Songs for the Philologists
(One of fourteen copies thought to exist) sold in Bloomsbury Sale #474
for just £3000!
The page linked below has all of the available Bloomsbury auction results that I have been able to accumulate. I will try to keep it maintained with upcoming auctions and their results.
Bloomsbury Auction Archive