Bloomsbury House, 24 Maddox Street, W1S 1PP
020 7495 9494
Bond Street & Oxford Circus LU
Bloomsbury Auctions is a specialist book and visual arts auction house which is now the only one of its kind in London. As such, the sales held at its relatively modest first floor offices near Oxford Circus are a major event in the antiquarian book world attracting prestigious bookshops and many international collectors. Those attending in person will find themselves bidding against phone bids, those participating online and commission bids which are only declared once the price has reached its limit in the room.
Bloomsbury sales range from specialist auctions covering a particular theme or period, to the sale of a single collection (where the library of one person is sold). Bloomsbury still holds the world record price at auction for a first edition of a Harry Potter book (£17,000). A recent auction had nearly 200 lots covering Continental and English Literature and History, and Middle-Eastern Books and Manuscripts with some of the earliest examples of printed books dating from the late 15th century going under the hammer with an obscure leather bound tombe by the Bishop of Carthage dating from 1417 fetching £10,000 and the Epistles of Pope Pius II in moroccan leather dating from 1473 fetching £3,000.
Anyone interested in rare books, works of art and collectable letters, diaries and manuscripts should make the effort to attend one of the Bloomsbury auctions. There will not be many lots that are within the reach of ordinary pockets, but the atmosphere is priceless. If you do visit with the intention of bidding it’s important to remember that the winning bid is subject to VAT and the auction’s commission which adds nearly 29% to the price paid.
As with most auctions, in order to be able to participate, visitors need to register at the desk with proof of residence and then receive a card with a number (known as a paddle) with which they can bid, but the regulars here are always identified by their name. The website is a very useful resource giving information about future auctions and allowing visitors to view the latest catalogues.