18 February, 2019

Signed Cormac McCarthys at March 2019 Heritage Auction

Cormac McCarthy is a regular feature at Heritage’s rare book auctions, the next one happening in March 2019.

There’ll almost always be at least one Blood Meridian, sometimes two or three, some (unfortunately) remaindered and some (desirably) signed.

Suttree and The Orchard Keeper also make healthy appearances, as do Child of Son and Outer Dark, if slightly less frequently.

All the Pretty Horses appears less often because circulation is high, and one can pick up a very good copy at eBay on very reasonable budget. But a signed copy is considerably rarer, and commands a significant premium. This time, there are two signed Horses, one standalone that is quite lovely, and one as a signed trilogy series. The standalone signed copy sold for $1,500. See below.

But wait, there’s more: an up-to-now rarely-seen signed copy of The Road. (This lot is now withdrawn without any explanation).

On its own, The Road is not worth much despite its Pulitzer pedigree because of the sheer volume. However, a signed copy is very rare, and should likely sell for a significant premium.

Except that there are two considerations. One, is the signature authentic? Heritage Auctions does not provide any provenance to back up the signatures, so how does one tell if the signature is real? Two, McCarthy himself once revealed in an interview that he signed quite a number of copies of The Road for his son. Are we seeing the first of these signed copies, because if we are, then that’s provenance, which is great. What’s not so clear, though, is whether one should buy a signed copy on the conditional likelihood that quite a few inventories that might be entering the market, potentially in the near future?

I have no answers for these considerations, but I’ll probably take a back-seat, observe and learn from this one because of the first question: there will be no provenance lending support to the signature’s authenticity. How then, as a book collector, can I tell subsequent custodians of these literary brilliance, with any confidence, that they were once blessed by the author’s hand? I can’t. So for now, I’ll stick to those publisher-endorsed signed editions.

This signed McCarthy was withdrawn from the auction without any explanation. The signature looks off, so caveat emptor when purchasing signed McCarthy without provenance.



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