Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby MagicAuctioneer » April 12th, 2011, 10:53 am

The auction link for bidding with all lot descriptions can now be accessed through my website at www.magicauctioneer.com under the online auction tab.

You can also print a catalog here .

With all the talk around estimates and reserves, we wanted the estimates to be low as bidding will open at 1/2 of the low estimate and per the auction terms the reserve will be no more than the low estimate. This truly will ensure an exciting sale for all participants!!

Good luck and have fun!

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 16th, 2011, 2:02 am

Given the email I just received (I suspect others in this thread have as well), there will not be a printed catalog for this auctionjust a 36-page PDF file. (Obviously that was pretty clear a while ago, but sometimes I do hold on to hope longer than I should.)

Im not a guy who buys every magic auction catalog, but this is one I would have purchased. I really cannot understand why the auction of the century would not have a printed catalog. I am very disappointed. I have to think that those who are really into auctions are more than disappointed.

Dustin

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Marvin G. » April 16th, 2011, 9:58 am

This should be a exciting sale! Is anybody here going to the Big Apple for it? I really liked the Annie Abbott and Nickola posters but all of them are so pretty in the Martinkas catalog anyway. I've been collecting magic lithos for a few years and only have some LIChang and George posters because the prices for the really rare ones have been rediculous, for my budget anyway! They are expensive! (but they ARE nice too to be fair!) Both Mum and Dad collected books, my Mum on cooking, but my Dad liked the really old ones (on fishing) and would sometimes got to auctions in London and San Francisco to buy the books and would take me with him. I'm just learning about old magic books and bought the Toole Stott rare magic books bibliography set last month to study, but am already amazed at how many there are! Before he passed, my Dad did teach me some things about how to buy a rare book at auction houses. He told me to always know what you are buying and study any reference books you can find so you can learn about the exact makeup of the book, its rareness, and whatnot, especially if you are paying big $$$. And read the fine print that auctions put out in there catalogs because one house is different from another and has different caveits (buyer beware).

I really like the 1836 book The Humerous Magician Unmasked. in listing 80 of the Martinkas catalog. It's very old so maybe it will cost a lot because its so rare (the catalog says pricing should be about $1,500-$3,500), but I read on the net that it was the first book to talk about rabbits being used by magicians, which is kinda cool! I also studied the catalog listing and the Toole Stott listing for it and found these differences. Toole Stott says the book is a 12(degree symbol) and the auction house says their copy is a 16mo. Toole Stott says the book has 9 plates and the auction house says their copy has 7 plates. And he says the book has paperbacked boards where as Martinkas copy has old vellum boards.

Could someone who knows rare magic books or Mr. Goodman explain these differences to me? Is the Martinkas copy a different edition from the same year? I'd really like to start learning about this stuff. Also, to the mods of the site, would it be okay to ask other questinos I have on things like this? Or is there any place I can go on the net which has answers to this kind of stuff?

Thank you!

(and sorry for blabbing on and on)

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Kevin Connolly » April 16th, 2011, 11:09 am

For what it's worth, The Humorous Magician Unmasked contains the first explanation of the rabbit in the hat. I forget, but it may be the 5th magic book printed in America. The one I owned had original cloth boards. It also had 7 plates, so TS may be a typo. As for price, I sold mine years ago for much more that the high estimate. IMHO my copy was in better condition.

Either way, the book is rare. If you want it, now is the time to bid.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby MagicAuctioneer » April 16th, 2011, 1:28 pm

OK, let's put the rumors to rest. There will be a printed catalog available at the auction in NYC as well as available to those not in attendance after the auction from Martinka's. This is a historic sale and the hard copy catalog will be an important record of this event for year's to come.

In the interim, all interested purchasers can view the entire offering by clicking the online auction tab on my website at www.magicauctioneer.com

Looking forward to a really fun day on Wednesday!!!!


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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby magicam » April 16th, 2011, 6:03 pm

^^^ Yeah, David! Bravo and many thanks for issuing a printed catalog. I know you guys have made a lot of collectors very happy.


Hi Marvin

Welcome to the Genii Forum! It's a great bunch of people here.

To cut to the chase and answer the most important of your questions, if the Christopher copy of The Humorous Magician Unmasked only has 7 plates, it is definitely an incomplete copy. Complete copies have 9 plates, all located together at the back of the book. Don't worry about the 12mo vs. 16mo discrepancy; in short Toole Stott was describing the collation (format) of the book, and the Christopher auction listing is describing the general size of the book. Bibliographically speaking, Toole Stott's description is technically the more correct and proper one, but it is not at all unusual to see some book catalogers use bibliographical formatting terms to describe the size of a book (versus the book's collation). Basically, if you see a book sized as a 16mo, that means it's a pretty small book (roughly 6 tall and 3.5 wide). Re binding, from the auction picture, to my eyes it looks like paper or thin cloth over boards, and not vellum. If it's vellum, that would be an extremely unusual material used for what looks like an original binding, and would not comport with Toole Stott's binding notes for this book.

If you've only started to collect old magic books, I'm impressed with your diligence and attention to detail. Your dad gave you some great advice, and it looks like you're following it, so kudos to both you and your dad. Keep up the good work! But here, Toole Stott is correct about the requisite number of plates in The Humorous Magician Unmasked, and as you build your reference library, you'll find that sometimes you can check other sources if you have questions or doubts about the information in a certain bibliography. In this instance, for example, fortunately this book is described in Trevor Hall's conjuring bibliography (1957) and in H. Adrian Smith's Books at Brown (1987), and both Hall and Smith confirm that 9 plates belong in the book.

All that said, Kevin Connolly's astute observation about a possible typo raises an important point about Toole Stott's bibliography, and all other bibliographies. The TS conjuring bibliography is by far the best we have to date, but it has a good number of mistakes and typos in it, as Kevin has suggested, and as we can see with the Engstrom book, auction houses can make mistakes as well in their listings.

While I would strongly encourage you to keep doing your homework on the books you're interested in bidding on, there is a bit of good news and built-in protection for newbies when it comes to buying old or expensive books from auction houses. These companies know they're only human, so if they miss something when they collate a rare book and fail in their customary duty to accurately disclose it as incomplete, within a reasonable period of time the winning bidder can return the book for a full refund. This is how reputable and ethical auction companies like Swann Galleries, Sotheby's, Bonham's, Christies, etc., operate, and I'm sure it's the same way for this auction. So you should feel like you can bid with confidence at the auction and know that if something has not been described accurately, Martinka's will take care of it (for this copy of Engstrom, however, returns won't be an issue because, with David Goodman's participation in this thread, doubtless Martinka's will promptly revise its online description to note that the book is incomplete because it lacks two plates). But your dad's suggestion to read the fine print is still an excellent one, because certain kinds of books (like extra-illustrated books, scrapbooks, and books which are part of large lots) are always excluded from the warranty of completeness, so you should learn what kinds of books aren't warrantied. In fact, I should re-read all that fine print after all these years! LOL

Good luck if you do any bidding! It will be a great and historic auction.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Marvin G. » April 17th, 2011, 8:39 am

Thanks alot for your help Magicman! They changed the description just like you said but do you think it's still worth buying the book? I looked at the fine print compared to something I found for Swann's and it's definitively different. Swann's garantees that the books are complete for 30 days, but Martinkas doesn't say that. Does this mean that if somebody pays big bucks for a book that doesn't have all it's pages, too bad for them? I'm a little worried about that and wondering about the posters which interest me too.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Bill McFadden » April 17th, 2011, 4:24 pm

Any word yet as to when they'll auction the Frank Joglar collection?

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby magicam » April 17th, 2011, 8:29 pm

^^^ Yes, I believe Milbourne and Frank very quite close ;)


Marvin G. wrote:... I looked at the fine print compared to something I found for Swann's and it's definitively different. Swann's garantees that the books are complete for 30 days, but Martinkas doesn't say that. ...

Very interesting. I read the Limited Warranty text from the Swann Galleries website and from the Christopher auction catalog, and skimmed through the Terms and Conditions for both companies. The language is virtually identical in much of the T & C for the two companies, with only Martinka substituted for Swann where company names are referenced. But you are right, the language which guaranties the completeness of books is not present in the Martinka & Co. warranty. Here's the Swann Galleries book warranty:

Except as noted above, or unless otherwise indicated in the respective catalogue description, we warrant for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of sale to the original buyer of record, that each book or manuscript is complete in text and illustration and generally is in such physical condition as may reasonably be expected considering the age and provenance. This warranty does not cover damages to binding, stains or foxing, wormholes,short leaves of text or plates or any defect not affecting the completeness of the text. Moreover, this warranty does not cover the lack of inserted advertisements, blank leaves, cancels or subsequently published volumes.

Perhaps I'm not reading it correctly, but the Martinka & Co.Limited Warranty section seems somewhat garbled in certain places; for example, in Paragraph 6 there's a cross-reference to a Paragraph 1.a., which doesn't exist. As I read their Limited Warranty, Martinka & Co. seems to guaranty the authenticity of the books, but not their completeness, and authenticity and completeness are two very different concepts.

Marvin, Martinka & Co. has successfully conducted online auctions for many, many years, so I think Ted and his company should be given the benefit of the doubt here and would suggest that perhaps the book completeness warranty was omitted by accident, or at the very least can be implied based on their reputation. It's hard to believe that Martinka & Co. would expect someone to pay, say, $10,000-$15,000 for the 1697 edition of Hocus Pocus Jr. or the 1650 Falacie of the Great Water-Drinker Discovered, if either of these books were incomplete and not disclosed as being defective in the auction catalog. IMHO, that would be a disaster for Martinka & Co. and would destroy a well-earned reputation for integrity that's been built up over the years. And it would be bad for business too do you think people would be willing to bid online or by telephone if they couldn't trust Martinka & Co. to collate such rare books and determine and disclose whether or not they were complete? If they didn't do that, almost certainly that would reduce bidding in future auctions and thus revenues for their clients (the consignors). The bottom line is that any way you look at it, it would make no ethical or business sense for Martinka & Co. to deviate from how reputable auction houses operate, so I've got to believe that Martinka & Co. will follow the well-established customs of the auction business.

If you still have any concerns, you should write to Martinka & Co. and simply ask the direct question: do you guaranty the completeness of the books you're selling? I'm sure the answer will be that they do. In fact, in light of the doubts cast by the omission of the completeness warranty in Martinka & Co.'s Limited Warranty, I'd bet that we'll see a post from David Goodman on the subject which will serve to eliminate such doubts for all prospective bidders.

As for whether or not you should buy the Engstrom, that's a personal decision for each collector. As Kevin Connolly noted, the Engstrom is a rare book; some collectors abhor and won't buy incomplete books no matter how rare they are, whereas other guys will buy such books, being unsure when they'll have the chance to buy another copy. One thing is for sure: because it lacks two plates, this copy is worth significantly less than a complete copy, and hopefully all prospective buyers will have seen the updated listing prior to bidding so they're aware of what they're bidding on.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Marvin G. » April 17th, 2011, 9:04 pm

Thanks for all your help, Magicam! I did e-mail to Mr. Goodman and Mr. Bogusta about the book and they nicely answered. Mr. Bogusta looked at the copy and said it had 7 plates and measured 5 and 5/8 tall by 3 and 5/8 wide. (pretty close to what you said about size!) He also said that there are 7 plates on 6 pages, the 7th plate is affixed to the back of one page, and that there is a repair to the corner of the rear end paper. Sorry for all the questions, but do you know if its normal for the 7th plate to be attached like what he said and if not is this a problem? Thaks again!

Marvin

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby magicam » April 18th, 2011, 1:07 am

^^^ For the Engstrom, there should be 9 leaves at the back of the book, with one side of each leaf having an engraved illustration and the other side being blank. None of the engraved pages should be affixed (glued? pasted?) to any other pages, and if that has happened, it should be noted in the catalog description (which I'm sure Martinka will do).

***********

magicam wrote:If you still have any concerns, you should write to Martinka & Co. and simply ask the direct question: do you guaranty the completeness of the books you're selling? I'm sure the answer will be that they do. In fact, in light of the doubts cast by the omission of the completeness warranty in Martinka & Co.'s Limited Warranty, I'd bet that we'll see a post from David Goodman on the subject which will serve to eliminate such doubts for all prospective bidders.

To David G. or and Ted B.,

I won't be able to attend the auction in person, and will have to bid online or by phone, so I'm curious about the warranty question as well. As mentioned to Marvin G., I'm sure Martinka will guaranty the completeness of the books, like all the other auction houses do, but can you please confirm this here and on your website so that it's a non-issue for prospective buyers? Thanks!

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby David Haversat » April 18th, 2011, 8:11 am

The Martinka Christopher auction is being conducted like any other live auction that has taken place with a professional, licensed auctioneer, and an auction house license as required by law. The listed terms and conditions are a standard in the industry.

The MCL as stated online, the PDF catalog and hardcopy catalog are from The Milbourne Christopher Library Bibliography as started by Milbourne Christopher, continued by Maurine Christopher and George Hansen. The publication describes the amount of plates and other information for Christophers books in the library. In some cases additional information has been provided such as foxing, or wear to spine / extremities and additional condition notes.

We thank you for the continued interest in the Christopher Auction. Milbourne himself would be pleased to know the books, posters and ephemera he collected as a boy until his death in 1984 have drawn such interest and enthusiasm!

See you in New York or via the Internet for this historic event.

Happy Bidding!

David Haversat

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby JohnCox » April 20th, 2011, 1:07 pm

Visit my blog Wild About Harry

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Andrew Pinard » April 20th, 2011, 1:58 pm

Houdini manuscript: Magic in Boston went for $40,000 plus premium...

Out of my league...

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Richard Hatch » April 20th, 2011, 2:42 pm

Lot 168, a cabinet photo of Leroy, Talma and Bosco for $4750. What's up with that?

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Andrew Pinard » April 20th, 2011, 3:20 pm

The prices fetched by some of these items are remarkable...


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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Richard Hatch » April 20th, 2011, 3:42 pm

I guess the recession is over...

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby magicam » April 20th, 2011, 3:49 pm

We won't know for about another 89 years if this was the auction of the century, but this was still a rather historic and important auction which will set modern benchmarks for magicana prices, especially with respect to antiquarian books.

Congrats to Maurine, Martinka, and the successful bidders.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby JohnCox » April 20th, 2011, 3:58 pm

Can anyone tell me what #157 sold for? That's the Kellar letter to Houdini congratulating him on the vanishing elephant. Also curious about #131.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 20th, 2011, 4:07 pm

Richard Hatch wrote:Lot 168, a cabinet photo of Leroy, Talma and Bosco for $4750. What's up with that?

Someone saw that I wanted it?

Yikes!

I'm not seeing realized prices even though I'm logged in. Is that normal?

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby JohnCox » April 20th, 2011, 4:11 pm

I think it's because the auction is still going.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 20th, 2011, 4:15 pm

Too much to ask for to have it updated as they close a lot, I guess. :(

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Ruben Padilla » April 20th, 2011, 4:20 pm

Anyone know what the bronze magician desk statue went for? Just curious...
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Nick » April 20th, 2011, 4:26 pm

You can see the realized prices as they happen by clicking on the View Live Sale link on the left sidebar of the auction page. Unfortunately, once the bidding for an item is over, the realized price disappears.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Nick » April 20th, 2011, 4:28 pm

JohnCox wrote:Can anyone tell me what #157 sold for? That's the Kellar letter to Houdini congratulating him on the vanishing elephant. Also curious about #131.


Lot 157 went for $32,500! Just a bit over my budget.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby JohnCox » April 20th, 2011, 4:47 pm

Wow! Amazing. Thanks.

Do we know yet what fetched the highest price?
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 20th, 2011, 5:12 pm

I see the prices now. Boy was I out bid.

John, once I get through it all, and if no one else has replied, I'll let you know.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Nick » April 20th, 2011, 5:18 pm

JohnCox wrote:Wow! Amazing. Thanks.

Do we know yet what fetched the highest price?


$32,500 for the Kellar letter was the highest price I saw. The second highest I saw was $30,000 for Lot 220 (Robert-Houdin, Vol. 1 & 2 Confidences d'un Prestidigitateur).

But there may have been some higher ones that I didn't catch.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby JohnCox » April 20th, 2011, 5:19 pm

I quickly looked it over. Looks like the bronze desk statue might have been the highest at 45,000ish.

Also manuscript for Magic in Boston 1792-1918 sold for $40,000.

That Kellar letter warranted another story.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 20th, 2011, 5:55 pm

Yes, $45,000 for the desk set is the highest.

Only one lot (54) was passed.

Congratulations to all involved!

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 20th, 2011, 6:06 pm

I have the total realized at $860,415.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Daniel Bain » April 20th, 2011, 7:05 pm

It was so cool getting to finally meet (or at least put a face to a name) all the celebrity magic collectors who came to the auction!

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Richard Hatch » April 20th, 2011, 7:22 pm

Daniel, how about a first hand report: who (and how many) were there? Who were the big spenders and rival bidders? Any local media interest in this event?

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Kevin Connolly » April 20th, 2011, 8:05 pm

Kate Winslet was there yesterday at the preview. :whistle:

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 20th, 2011, 8:07 pm

Because I can (to borrow a phrase):

Totals
273 of 274 lots sold
Low Estimate: $148,300
High Estimate: $288,475
Price Realized: $860,416
198% over High Estimate
Highest Lot ($ Price): #34 Bronze Desk Set, $45,000 (+4,400%)
Highest Lot (% over H/Est): #157 Kellar / Houdini Letter Jan. 1918 ($32,500) +4,543%
Lowest Lot ($ Price): #151 Jacoby-Harms, Illustrierte Zauber-Soiree, $50 (-75% H/E; -50% L/E)
Lowest Lot* (% under H/Est) #59 Henri DeCremps, La Magie Blanche 1789 ($150) -79%
Lowest Lot* (% under L/Est) (tie) #160 Kemink, De Nieuwe Utrechtsche Almanak ($70) and #246 Thornton, T. C. The New Cabinet of Arts 1846 ($70) -53%
*Not counting passed lot

Off to the meeting of the SoCal Sodality where I'm sure this will be a source of discussion!

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Kevin Connolly » April 20th, 2011, 8:08 pm

If anyone needs lots #83, 129 or 139 for hammer price, please let me know. They would be at least as good condition, probably better.

Just let me know and I'll start to dig for them.
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Dustin Stinett » April 21st, 2011, 4:41 am

As suspected, the numbers were a point of discussion at tonight's SoCal Sodality. There was some question of the percentages. These are delta percentages using the estimates as the baseline, hence the negative numbers. Force of habit in my biz.

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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby Kevin Connolly » April 21st, 2011, 9:49 am

I don't know if I look more forward to your year in review or when you do a breakdown of an auction. Either one I couldn't do. :)
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Re: Update to the Auction of the Century - The Christopher Collection

Postby martinka » April 21st, 2011, 12:31 pm

Thank you to all who participated in The Martinka Christopher sale whether it was providing expert information, helping to spread the word or placing your bids. It was an exciting and historic day!

I wish Jackie Flosso could have been there to see it.

Robert McGowan personally made sure each and every internet bid got to the floor and did it for the duration without a break!

David Haversat did an excellent job in selecting the items, researching them, producing the catalog and more!

David Goodman kept the in room crowd energized in an AMAZING nonstop performance. Wow!

Thank you again and we hope that you join us for the next Martinka sale.
Ted Bogusta
Martinka & Co.
wwww.martinka.com
201-444-7576


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