For collectors of 19th century photography, the recent sale of the collection of François Lepage at Millon in Paris must have felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Starting back in the 1960s, Lepage was one a handful of dealers gathering up 19th century photographs from flea markets and auctions in Paris, and the selections that went on sale last week reached back to the very earliest period in the development of the medium. To say that these kinds of works don’t come on the market very often is perhaps a massive understatement; this was a sale filled with rarities.
It’s therefore a bit surprising that the estimates at the Millon sale were so conservative. When all the bidding was done, a total of 87 lots sold for twice their high estimate or more, with one lot coming in at a tidy 35X its high estimate (after the buyer’s premium was added). By another measure, more than 82% of the lots that did sell did so above their estimate ranges. So either Millon was being very careful and trying to encourage bidding, or there was some misinterpretation of the material going on, which seems unlikely.
The top lot honors went to a still life by Alphonse-Eugène Hubert (an inventor and collaborator of Daguerre), but works by Hippolyte Fizeau, Eugène Durieu, Louis-Auguste Bisson, André Giroux, and many others all performed well. The overall Buy-In rate for the sale was an admirable 16%, and with all the positive surprises, the Total Sale Proceeds (of roughly €2.38M) more than doubled the aggregate pre-sale high estimate for the sale.
The summary statistics are below (all results include the buyer’s premium):
|Aggregate Pre Sale Low Estimate||€913600|
|Aggregate Pre Sale High Estimate||€1187800|
|Total Lots Sold||195|
|Total Lots Bought In||38|
|Buy In %||16.31%|
|Total Sale Proceeds||€2376151|
Here is the breakdown (using our typical Low, Mid, and High definitions). Given recent currency fluctuations, we have once again re-adapted our local currency thresholds to match roughly $10000 and $50000 break points between categories.
|Low Total Lots||220|
|Total Low Lots Sold||184|
|Total Low Lots Bought In||36|
|Low Buy In %||16.36%|
|Aggregate High Estimate of Low Lots||€695800|
|Total Proceeds from Low Lots||€1453651|
|Mid Total Lots||11|
|Total Mid Lots Sold||8|
|Total Mid Lots Bought In||3|
|Mid Buy In %||27.27%|
|Aggregate High Estimate of Mid Lots||€262000|
|Total Proceeds from Mid Lots||€247500|
|Total High Lots||2|
|Total High Lots Sold||2|
|Total High Lots Bought In||0|
|High Buy In %||0.00%|
|Aggregate High Estimate of High Lots||€230000|
|Total Proceeds from High Lots||€675000|
The top lot by High estimate was lot 148, Félix Nadar and Adrien Tournachon, Pierrot à la corbeille de fruits, 1854-1855, estimated at €120000-150000; it sold at €150000. The top outcome of the sale was lot 42, Alphonse-Eugène Hubert, Nature morte, 1839-1840, estimated at €60000-80000, sold at €525000 (image above, via Millon).
A powerhouse 100.00% of the lots that sold had proceeds in or above the estimate range, with a massive 82.56% of those actually above the range. And astonishingly, there were a total of 87 positive surprises in the sale (defined as having proceeds of at least double the high estimate); we have listed below the 14 of those surprises that found buyers at least 6X their high estimates (images above, via Millon):
Lot 16, Marie Chambefort, Stéphanie Poyet, âgée de 7 ans, c1850, estimated at €600-800, sold at €8125
Lot 26, Hippolyte Fizeau, Charrette de foin dans la cour d’une ferme, Suresnes, c1840, estimated at €3000-4000, sold at €25000
Lot 27, Hippolyte Fizeau, Cour de ferme, Suresnes, c1840, estimated at €3000-4000, sold at €25000
Lot 28, Hippolyte Fizeau, Le Mont Valérien vu depuis Suresnes, c1840, estimated at €3000-4000, sold at €35000
Lot 39, Hippolyte Fizeau, Portrait d’un homme, le bras accoudé à une balustrade, c1840, estimated at €1500-2000, sold at €15000
Lot 40, Hippolyte Fizeau, Boîte à rainures contenant 3 pleines plaques de daguerréotypes non montées avec le poinçon “Lerebours” sur le bord de la plaque (pour deux): Buste antique; La Dormition de la Vierge Marie; Église Notre-Dame, portail sud, 1842, estimated at €800-1000, sold at €35000
Lot 42, Alphonse-Eugène Hubert, Nature morte, 1839-1840, estimated at €60000-80000, sold at €525000
Lot 96, Olympe Aguado, Taureau et son vacher, c1855, estimated at €1000-1200, sold at €13750
Lot 97, W. H. Guebhard, Perspective, 1854, estimated at €1500-2000, sold at €12500
Lot 139, André Giroux, Chaumière aux oies, Boussardière (Allier), c1855, estimated at €2000-3000, sold at €21250
Lot 141, André Giroux, Le pont de Seychalles sur la Durolle, Thiers, Puy de Dôme, c1855, estimated at €2000-3000, sold at €22500
Lot 176, Album, Collection Disderi Marine France n°42, 1859-1869, estimated at €3000-4000, sold at €26250
Lot 188, Julien Vallou de Villeneuve, Nu à la cruche, c1852-1853, estimated at €800-1000, sold at €6250
Lot 187, Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron, Reproduction du portrait de Bernard Palissy, c1870-1875, estimated at €600-800, sold at €13750
Complete lot by lot results can be found here.