1910 Ernest Montaut Automobile Racing Print Book, “Dix Ans de Courses”

Value (2007) | $8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction

This is a portfolio of pictures that was given by a friend of mine. It's all prints of early European Grand Prix car races. It's all 1895 to 1907's the years. I don't know anything about value of it. The friend gave me it as a gift.

Well, you know, you call it a portfolio. In fact, it's more of a book. It is bound here at the edge, so it is a book. That said, the cover of the book has, I think we can say, seen better days. In fact, for convenience, I'm just going to move that out of the way now. It is a book of images of car designs by an artist by the name of Ernest Montaut, who was one of the great early artists of airplanes, dirigibles and cars. He really helped romanticize aviation and automobiles in the early days. He died in 1909, and this book was printed in 1910. The images are all wonderful images of old cars that have been colored by pochoir process, which is like a stenciling process. The name of the book in French is “Dix Ans de Courses” – “Ten Years of Races.” “Ten Years of Automobile Races.” That's the English translation. Really, by one of the masters of French Art Nouveau automotive design. Now, this is very important. Each one has, like, a tissue paper covering that explains the name of the car, the year of the car... All of the images are very beautifully done. Now, you said you had no idea of the value of this book. Would you want to hazard a guess, perhaps, as to how much it could be worth?

I really don't know. I was just thinking, you know, if you put one picture in a frame and you got a hundred bucks for it, then, you know...

Well, it's very interesting. In deciding the value of this book, I did some research. And, although it is a book, they're actually graphic designs by a poster artist. So I talked to some of my colleagues at the book table and we did some research and we found that a copy of this book sold in London last year, at auction, for $3,800. And it was a copy that was said to be in excellent condition. Sounds good, but here's the thing. That book only had 13 color plates in there. Now, we've counted in here. How many color plates did we count in here?


We counted 30 different color plates. These are 30 plates that individually—according to the other sale-- work out to be about $300 apiece.


But here's another interesting fact. If we go to the very end of the book... This is the last image in the book. If you could just hold that down for me. If you see very closely... Don't pull it too hard. You don't want to pull it out. It actually says 35 in Roman numerals, which mean there were at least 35 plates, so it means five plates are missing. So the book, while more complete than the last book, is still incomplete. By the way, there was only one record of this book existing. So there's really very few records-- it's quite rare. But I'm thinking, with an average value of $300 apiece, and 30 different beautiful color images in the book, I had originally thought that you should break this book up and sell the plates individually. But now I'm thinking, because of its rarity, because each one of the plates has the tissue paper covering, which has a lot of very good, interesting historical information… I think now, were you interested in selling this book, at auction, I would estimate its value at $8,000 to $12,000.


It wouldn't be surprising to me if it sold at auction for the higher level.

That's great.

Appraisal Details

Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Appraised value (2007)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Spokane, WA (August 04, 2007)
Cloth , Paper

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