You are currently browsing articles tagged Bloomsbury.

The eight lots of Nabokov books that the Bloomsbury auction house in London offered today (see my posting of 13 February) didn’t do very well. Only two sold: a jacketed 1938 Bobbs-Merrill copy of Laughter in the Dark (A14.2) went for £450 ($683) and Stikhotvoreniia 1929–1952 / Poems 1929–1952 (A27.1), inscribed and with a flutter of little butterflies, went for £3800 ($5764). The prices are exclusive of the 24% buyer’s premium.

Also, on 17 February, the Bonhams auction house in San Francisco sold one of two Nabokov lots (see my posting of 18 January), a copy of Gornii put’ / The empyrean path (A6.1) for $1000, including the premium.

Tags: , ,

Eight of the ten Nabokov lots that didn’t sell at the Bloomsbury auction in November are being offered again by the London auction house on 28 February, all at reduced estimates. That means that the opening bids and the reserve prices will be lower. Click here to link to the items, lots 341–48. (Thanks to James O’Sullivan for pointing the auction out to me.)

Podvig/Glory (A13.1) was originally given an estimate for the November auction of £600–800; this time it’s £400–600. Kamera obskura (A14.1) was £500–700, now £250–350. Laughter in the Dark (A14.2) was £750–1000, now £500–700. Otchaianie/Despair (A15.1) was £400–600, now £250–350. Priglashenie na kazn’/Invitation to a beheading (A16.1) was £200–300, now £150–200. Sogliadatai/The eye (A12.1) was £800–1200, now £500–700. (A17.1) Dar/The gift was £200–300, now £150–200. Stikhotvoreniia 1929–1952/Poems 1929–1952 (A27.1), inscribed and with a flutter of little butterflies, was £6000–8000, now £3000–4000. Vozvroshchenie Chorba/The return of Chorb and the lot of 30 letters and cards to the de Petersons were not relisted for this auction. A buyer’s premium of 24% applies.

A big word of warning to any non-UK resident contemplating bidding on these lots: Bloomsbury’s shipping process is disorganized, sometimes unresponsive, and unthinkably expensive. I personally know of three winning bidders, two in the US and one in the Netherlands, who were at first hit with exorbitant shipping estimates and had to complain loud and long to get the charges reduced. And even then it sometimes took a long time for Bloomsbury to ship the items out. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you negotiate with Bloomsbury before the auction. Ask them about the expected shipping costs and fees, and the different possible carriers (DHL, postal service, etc.). BTW, if you have household or collectables insurance, you may not have to absorb the carrier’s insurance, since your purchase may be covered the moment you pay for it. Check with your insurance agent.

Tags: ,

My instant post-game analysis of today’s auction of 22 Nabokov lots at Bloomsbury Auctions in London: Ho-hum.

Twelve of the lots were sold, ten were passed on. The first lot, a battered Mashen’ka, went for the minimum expected, £1500 (plus the buyer’s premium of 24%). Three rebound Russian novels (Kamera obskura, Otchaianie, and Priglashenie na kazn’) were passed on. One rebound novel, Zashchita Luzhina, sold at £320, above the high estimate. I think that’s due to the difficulty of finding any copy of ZL and this copy’s relatively low price.

Some Russian novels in wrappers didn’t sell (Dar, Sogliadatai, and Podvig). Most of the English language lots sold: a 1936 John Long Camera Obscura without dust jacket at £1400; a 1959 Putnam Invitation to a Beheading with a tipped in letter from Véra Nabokov at £180; an Olympia Press Lolita, second issue, at £1700; a Bend Sinister, inscribed and lepidopterized, at £3800, the most expensive lot sold; an inscribed Pnin at £2200; a Putnam Lolita, ninth impression, inscribed and lepidopterized, at £3500.

The lot of 30 letters from 1958–1981, two with butterflies, to Nabokov’s cousins, the de Petersons, didn’t sell (estimated at £8–12,000). Nor did the most delightful piece, an inscribed and 8X-lepidopterized copy of Stikhotvoreniia: 1929–1951, estimated at £6–8000. You have your good days and you have your so-so days. One could say that that’s how the ball bounces.

Tags: , ,

Bloomsbury Auctions in London has 21 lots of Nabokov books (many inscribed) and a lot of 30 letters coming up for sale on 27 November. Go to and click on the “Important Books & Manuscripts” auction. The Nabokov lots are #133–154. (Or click here to go directly to the catalog page where the Nabokov lots begin.)

The estimated prices are accurate. The conditions of some of the books are, from the fastidious collector’s point of view, not very good. Many copies are not in their original bindings. But there are many desirable pieces. I think that the most delightfully desirable is lot #148, Stikhotvoreniia [Poems] 1929–1951 (A27.1 in my bibliography), published in Paris by Rifma in 1952. The book itself contains 16 Russian poems in a compact 48 pages. The real attraction is the quickly sketched flutter of eight giddy butterflies over Nabokov’s inscription to Jacob Frumkin. Take a look.

Tags: , , ,