>So my prediction was way off–or someone got a great deal. The Stowe went for $2,800 (the hammer price, which does not include the buyer’s premium). If a dealer bought it, it is likely to appear in the trade for $6,000 or more, depending on his/her reading of the market. If an institution bought it, we hope they will publicize the purchase. If a collector, it will disappear for a time, hopefully to re-emerge.
Buying at auction can be expensive, and often you’ll pay 20% or more than what the item was “knocked down” for in house fees, or other fees including those incurred through customs. Buying abroad comes with its own set of headaches, which is why most librarians use (or should use) an agent “on the ground,” so to speak–but of course they require a fee as well (usually a percentage of the hammer price). Some items are so valuable to a country that they will not be permitted to cross the border (an this is not necessarily monetary value). I tried to buy a nice maritime history item from France and the sale was stopped by their ministry of naval affairs (or some such department)–it was only a $2,000 item. Other items (over 50,000 euros, for example), require certain licenses, and the process of extracting them from bureaucratic red tape can be prolonged. But then, if you are not really serious about the game, you should not attempt to play.
A quick note about our rather stunning collection of editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We have many editions in English, printed in various English- and non-English speaking countries. We also have editions in Bulgarian, Danish (shown here), Dutch (also shown), French, German, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish. All here at the public library. See? I knew you’d be amazed.