Sunday 12 March 2017

Stradivarius versus chess books

From the i newspaper, 11/12th March 2017:

Why is a Stradivarius violin, of which there are about 550 surviving examples, worth several million dollars while The Book of the Sixth American Chess Congress, by William Steinitz , New York 1891, for example, of which there are no more than 500 copies, only worth several hundred dollars? 

Anyway, for those who collect chess books with one eye on the investment potential, it was encouraging  to see some spirited bidding on many of the lots in last week's auction of chess books and memorabilia at the Lund Chess Academy. See

Several bibliographical items fared well, the top lot was A Few Old Friends, 2nd edition, by David DeLucia, which fetched €277, followed closely by a 1940 catalogue  from Albrecht Buschke featuring general, chess and medical periodicals, realising €276. Chess: An Annotated Bibliography, 1st edition, by Douglas Betts sold for €135, and a Frank Hollings chess book catalogue from 1923 made €83.

Other good prices were achieved for the following:

Essai_analytiques sur Les Echecs avecs figures, by M. Chapais, €180
Das grosse Schachturnier zu London, in Jahre 1862, by Berthold Suhle, €161
Chessmen by Donald Liddell, signed by Frank Marshall and others, €212
Chess Monthly by Hoffer & Zukertort, volumes I, II and III, around €110 each
South African Chess Player 1965-66, edited by L. R. Reitstein, €111
Steinitz with Zukertort, by Harrie Grondijs, limited edition of 75, €200. (There are seven times more Stradivarii than this!)
Scunthorpe 1961, Congress of the Appleby-Frodingham Club, €69. This is probably much rarer than a Stradivarius, but demand is obviously much lower.

The next Lund Chess Academy auction starts on 1st June although chess books are constantly on sale on their website.

                                         © Michael Clapham 2017

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