A 20-volume set of rare books and photographs of early American Indians will stay at the library which consigned them, after maximum bids of $600,000 fell short of the mark at a Christie's auction.
The Edward S. Curtis set of books, entitled The North American Indian, had been valued at $700,000-900,000.
With maximum bids only reaching $600,000 at the New York sale last Thursday, the books remain in need of a new owner.
Edward Sheriff Curtis (1868-1952) was a prolific photographer of the American West and of Native American peoples.
The collection was originally purchased by Lammot du Pont, the late DuPont chemical company president, who donated the volumes to Wilmington Library in Delaware, US.
Mr du Pont has been a subscriber to Curtis's collection, which had been produced between 1907 and 1930.
It is likely that the Wilmington Library will reassess the books for another sale.
"Of course, we're disappointed," said H. Rodney Scott, president of the library's board of managers.
"But we'll just meet and re-evaluate what we're going to do," he told Delaware Online.
Scott hopes that the same scenario won't be repeated when the library auctions 14 illustrations by NC Wyeth in December.
The illustrations were produced for the 1920 publication of Robinson Crusoe, and are valued by Christie's an astonishing $5m.