On May 22, 2014, Better World Books and the ARC (Antiquarian, Rare and Collectible) Department celebrated the biggest single item sale in company history. The record-setting transaction in question was for a 1933 set of illustrated Japanese/English volumes detailed below, which sold for $18,000 (besting the previous record of $16,000).
“歐米蒐儲支那古銅精華. Shina-Kodo Seikwa, or Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Europe and America. Volumes 1-7,” compiled by Sueji Umehara, Yamanaka & Co,Ōsaka, 1933.
This set, each volume beautifully bound in green linen covers with bone clasps, turned out to be an exceptionally scarce and sought-after compilation of ancient Chinese bronze sculptures. The volumes contained extensive photographic plates documenting these relics, making it a comprehensive reference work and invaluable tool for art collectors and art historians, as well as a desirable piece of art history itself.
The ARC department, recognizing the set’s potential value, translated some of the Japanese text, made sure all volumes were present, and researched past auction records for information. There were no other copies on the market at the time. After several weeks correspondence with potential buyers both in the United States and China, a direct sale agreement was reached with an individual collector for a final price of $18,000.
We want to give great thanks to the ARC members who, as a team, accomplished this noteworthy feat, the client library who made this possible by trusting us with their material, and the Receiving and Scanning teams whose efforts helped ensure these books made their way into the proper hands.