Friday, December 6, 2013

Bravo, LAC!

I agonized over whether to blog about this or not over the last week.  Sotheby's was offering up in its December 5th sale two significant documents.  The first was a lovely manuscript map of Louisbourg by a certain sieur Lartigue, entitled "Carte topographique du Port et de la Ville de Louisbourg assiégé par les Anglais pendant les mois de Juin et Juillet 1758"; the second was an intriguing two-part journal of said siege and its aftermath, totaling some 180 pages, penned by an anonymous officer of the Régiment de Cambis.  As far as I know, this journal had not previously been available to researchers; I couldn't find it quoted anywhere.  The auctioneer's estimate for the map was of $15,000-$20,000 USD, and for the journal was of $8,000-$12,000 USD. 

It's one thing to blog about a forthcoming auction and call out the auctioneers for an outlandish overvaluation of a lot's historical and monetary value (readers may remember an earlier sortie).  But in a case such as this one, where the manuscripts for sale are of exceptional interest, to make a big deal out of it before the sale essentially means giving free publicity to the auctioneer and the consigner -- and potentially contributing to raising the sale price beyond the means of the most deserving institutions.  So, having agonized, I thought I'd best bite my tongue.

I'm now overjoyed to report that the journal was acquired by Library and Archives Canada.  Yes, the same LAC I was disparaging in a recent post for not making any acquisitions as of late.  A wind of change rises?  You can read the government's proud announcement here.  LAC paid $40,625 USD, or about four times the estimate.  This appears to be a deal, since from what I can tell the same two-part journal was sold by French auction house Piasa as recently as 2010 for 51,345 euros, or about $70,000.  Well done, LAC! 

PS: The map, meanwhile, sold for almost seven times its high estimate: $137,000 USD!




  1. Well done, LAC. I think I would prefer the journal as opposed to the map anyway, though I suppose the more cartographical minded among us would disagree (and have deeper pockets).

  2. Well said, Charlevoix. I did not blog this either, out of a hesitation I couldn't quite articulate but which you express precisely here. Now perhaps someone will make the Regiment de Cambis famous again.

  3. Poor guys of Cambis, arriving at the fortress barely a day or so before the British launched their siege. They never got to enjoy the lovely Louisbourg weather.