George Catlin Indian Portfolio Sparks International Bidding Battle

  • From George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio (1844).

    From George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio (1844).

In a German auction, George Catlin’s “North American Indian Portfolio” almost doubled its starting price of 45,000 euros with a final result of 87,600 euros including commission, leaving several competitive bidders from the U.S. empty-handed. The heated bidding skirmish for the rare period document ended with a German victor.

This first edition copy, published by Catlin in 1844, is a distinctive firsthand account of Native American "hunting scenes and amusements of the Rocky Mountains and prairies of America," including the artist's observations and images of tribal life in twenty-five hand-colored lithographs.

With an overall result of more than 1.6 million euros, the two-day auction of Rare Books at Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg included an evening auction that achieved a remarkable 86 percent lots sold. The entire auction realized 98 percent of the volume of estimated prices.

”Works in the section of Expressionism were particularly sought after, in the end all but five lots were sold. This is also largely owed to the fact that more and more fine art buyers are developing an interest in rare books“, said Robert Ketterer, owner of Ketterer Kunst.

Fifteen issues of ”Menschen“ with 92 original prints by Expressionist artists Conrad Felixmüller, Otto Dix and others, went to a German dealer who stood his ground against a private collector for a final result of 11,040 euros, almost sixteen-fold of the starting price of 700 euros.

A lot of interest went to the weekly magazine for art and culture ”Der Sturm.“ A London book dealer sent this most important avant-garde magazine of Expressionism up to 52,800 euros.

The only known copy of ”Legenda aurea...“ by Jacobus de Voragine fell to a French private collector. Starting at 18,000 euros, he let the work in two volumes climb to a remarkable result of 45,600 eruos.

Maria Sibylla Merian’s ”Over de voortteeling en wonderbaerlyke veranderingen der Surinaamsche insecten“ went to a German dealer for 38,400 euros.

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