Rare Book Consignment
Sotheby’s began as an auctioneer of books in 1744. Over 270 years later, our dedicated team of specialists continue to lead the market, with sales from the past five years alone exceeding $350 million.
While this is the oldest selling category at Sotheby’s, in recent years the books and manuscripts department has been one of our most inventive, with theme sales, new influencer-led marketing campaigns, and our highly successful transition to selling books online. We still continue to host traditional live auctions in our New York, London, and Paris sale rooms. At Sotheby’s, we are dedicated to merging tradition and innovation.
Recent successful books sales include a presentation copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (162,500 GBP), a distinguished copy of Hamilton’s Federalist (250,000 USD), a first edition of Marcel Proust’s Du Côté de Chez Swann (535,500 EUR), and artist Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos (912,500 USD).How to Spot a First EditionLaunch Slideshow
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Books Consigned with Sotheby's
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the best way to sell my rare book or collection of books and manuscripts?Trust Sotheby’s to inspect and evaluate your first-edition novel, antique manuscript or letter, or rare collection of books. If you are considering selling your book, map, ephemera, letter or document, simply send photographs, relevant paperwork and other background information to Sotheby’s for an auction estimate. Our international team of books and manuscripts specialists are experienced in appraising and selling all categories of books and manuscripts including the most rare and expensive examples.
- When does Sotheby's hold auctions for rare books and manuscripts?Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department in New York holds regular sales containing all types of books in June and December. Our January sale typically features significant sales of American books and manuscripts. Our offices in Paris and London also hold biannual book and manuscript sales that include books across all centuries and categories.
Sotheby's also offers specialized sales that occur on a yearly or occasional basis that focus on a variety of specialized categories such as science and technology, musical manuscripts, children literature, antique maps and atlases, and rock and roll ephemera.
- Can I sell my rare book online through Sotheby's?Yes, indeed. Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts department invites participation in our online timed auctions of Fine Books and Manuscripts, including Americana. Past online selections have included cartography from distinguished private collections; an extraordinary copy of History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark in the original printed boards; a first edition, first printing, first issue of Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales with the original wrappers; a presentation copy of Karl Marx’s Le Capital; and John Keats's copy of Butler's Hudibras, presented to his brother, George Keats.
- Can a specialist come to my home to evaluate my library?While the easiest way to obtain an evaluation is to submit your information through our online form, our specialists do evaluate books in person as well. Our specialists are located in London, Paris and New York, but they also travel frequently. All upcoming travel dates will be listed on this page. If you have questions about a specific visit or would like to discuss your collection in greater detail, you can call the books department nearest you.
PARIS: +33 1 53 05 53 19
NEW YORK: +1 212 606 7385
LONDON: +44 (0)20 7293 6182