• <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Excessively Rare Benjamin Franklin Imprint. Estaugh (John). <i>A Call to the Unfaithful Professors of Truth</i>, Philadelphia: Printed by B. Franklin, 1744. €7,000 – 10,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Original Signed Volume from the Dean Swift's Library. [Swift (Dr. Jonathan)] Grotius (Hugo). <i>De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres</i>, Amsterdam: (J. Blaeu) 1670. €10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Cresswell (Samuel Gurney). <i>A Series of Eight Sketches in Colour; together with a Coloured Map of the Route</i>, London: (Day & Son) July 25, 1854.<br>€15,000 – 20,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Of Legendary Rarity - First Printing of Shakespeare Outside England. Shakespeare (Wm.). <i>The Works of Shakespeare</i> In Eight Volumes. Dublin: 1726.<br>€7,000 – 10,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Lewin (W.). <i>The Birds of Great Britain</i>, 8 vols in 4, with 335 hand-coloured plates, 1795 – 1801. €1,500 – 2,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> 18th Century Manuscript Relating to Massachusetts Bay, c. 1750.<br>€350 – 500
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Alexander (Wm.). <i>Picturesque Representations of The Dress and Manners of the Chinese</i>, with 50 hand-coloured plates, 1814. €600 – 800
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Manuscript Estate Atlas - Neville (Arthur Richard). <i>The Estate of Sir John Coghill Bart</i>, 1791. €10,000 – 15,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Unique Collection of Ballads by Brendan Behan Behan. €3,000 – 4,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers: Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps & Works of Art. December 13, 2016</b>
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Original Manuscript of Edith Somerville's Unpublished Children's Book. Somerville (Edith). <i>GROWLY-WOWLY. Or, The Story of the Three Little Pigs</i>. €3,500 – 5,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Full Set of Cuala Press Broadsides with fine hand-coloured illustrations by Jack B. Yeats, 1908 – 1915. €4,000 – 6,000
    <b>Fonsie Mealy Dec. 13:</b> Eyzinger (Michael). <i>Ad Leonis Belgici Topographicam atque Historicam Descriptionem</i>, [Cologne:] 1586. €3,000 – 4,000
  • <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “America the Beautiful”
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> George Washington, Tongue-in-Cheek, Writes James McHenry About His Wife or Mistress—But Funding the Continental Army is the Real Topic
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Young’s Map of the United States
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> President Lincoln & His Most Profitable Client, the Illinois Central Railroad
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Lincoln Thanks Former Pro-Slavery and Newly Republican Congressman for a Fiery Anti-Slavery Speech at a Philadelphia Campaign Rally
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> “A Visit From St. Nicholas” - great association copy inscribed by Clement C. Moore
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Einstein Agrees to Allow “a Short Book on the Hydrogen Bomb” to Use His Statement Made on Eleanor Roosevelt’s TV Show
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> The Building Blocks of Albert Einstein’s Creative Mind
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> A Unique Manuscript Map of Block Island Sound Including Fisher’s and Gardiner’s Islands, the Hamptons, and Montauk Point
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> J.R.R. Tolkien Writes his Proofreader with a Lengthy Discussion of the Lord of the Rings, Including Criticism of Radio Broadcasts of his Work
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Six Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipts – Including his Earliest Obtainable Autograph — Acknowledging a Donation to the Famous Library Company He Founded, and Five Payments for His Pennsylvania Gazette
    <b>Seth Kaller:</b> Sherman Dishes on Lincoln & Thomas, Meade, Sheridan, Halleck & Grant
  • <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 200.<br>The North American Indian, vol.I-XIII. £60,000-80,000
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 202. Geronimo - Apache. £600-800
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 225.<br>A Chief of the Desert - Navaho. £1000-1500
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 267.<br>An Oasis in the Bad Lands. £600-800
    <b>Bloomsbury Auctions: Edward S. Curtis' The North American Indian. December 15, 2016</b>
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 303.<br>The Scout in Winter - Apsaroke. £800-1200
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 320.<br>Sitting Bear - Arikara. £500-700
    <b>Bloomsbury Dec. 15: </b> Lot 475. <br>A Nakoaktok Chief's Daughter. <br>£600-800
  • <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [ARTILLERY]. KITCHEN, D.C. <i>Record of the Wyoming Artillerists.</I> Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania: Alvin Day Printer, 1874. $2,000-4,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> UNITED STATES AND MEXICAN BOUNDARY COMMISSION. EMORY, William Hemsley. <i>Report of the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey, Made under the Direction of the Secretary of the Interior…</i><br>$3,000-6,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> RICHARDSON, William H. <i>Journal of William H. Richardson, a Private Soldier in the Campaign of New and Old Mexico…</i>. Baltimore: John H. Woods, 1848. $3,000-6,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> GARCÍA CONDE, Pedro. <i>Carta geografica general de la Republica Mexicana…</i> $30,000-60,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> EMORY, William Hemsley. <i>Map of Texas and the Countries Adjacent: Compiled in the Bureau of the Corps of Topographical Engineers; From the Best Authorities…</i> [Washington, 1844]. $7,500-15,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> THORPE, Thomas Bangs. <i>Our Army at Monterey. Being a Correct Account of the Proceedings and Events which Occurred to the “Army of Occupation”…</i> Philadelphia, 1847. $400-800
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> <i>The Rough and Ready Songster: Embellished with Twenty-Five Splendid Engravings, Illustrative of the American Victories in Mexico…</i> New York; St. Louis, Mo [ca. 1848].<br>$500-1,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> CURRIER, Nathaniel (publisher). <i>The Brilliant Charge of Capt. May At the Battle of Resaca de la Palma (Palm Ravine) 9th of May…</i> $150-300 
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [RINGGOLD, SAMUEL]. WYNNE, James. <i>Memoir of Major Samuel Ringgold, United States Army: Read Before the Maryland Historical Society, April 1st, 1847.</i> Baltimore, 1847. $500-1,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Rare Books:<br>La Invasíon Norteamericana and the Mexican-American War.<br>December 15 & 16, 2016</b>
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [TAYLOR, ZACHARY]. <i>Life of General Taylor from the Best Authorities.</i> New York: Nafis and Cornish; St. Louis, Mo.: Nafis, Cornish & Co., 1847.<br>$500-1,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> TILDEN, Bryant Parrott, Jr. <i>Notes on the Upper Rio Grande, Explored in the Months of October and November, 1846, on Board the U.S. Steamer Major Brown…</i> Philadelphia, 1847.<br>$5,000-10,000
    <b>Dorothy Sloan Books Dec. 15 & 16:</b> [WORTH, WILLIAM J.]. <i>Life of General Worth; To Which is Added a Sketch of the Life of Brigadier-General Wool.</i> New York: Nafis & Cornish; St. Louis, Mo.: Nafis, Cornish & Co., 1847.<br>$200-400

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2012 Issue

Audubon's Birds of America Takes in $7.9 million at Auction

Christiesbirds2012

From Audubon's Folio Birds of America. Courtesy of Christie's.

The latest sale of “the most expensive book in the world” was concluded on January 20. At Christie's in New York, a double-elephant folio first edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America, the record holder for the highest price ever achieved for a book at auction, was offered up for bid. When the hammer came down, the final bid rested at $7,922,500. This was not a new record, and some people were expecting we might see one, but the times are not quite conducive to breaking through old ceilings. Nonetheless, it was a respectable enough price for a book in troubled economic times. For comparison, the price was over three times the highest price paid for any book sold at auction in 2011.


The record price for Birds of America, and for any book, remains $11.5 million. That was the price achieved in 2010. The price paid for a copy in 2000 - $8.8 million – also remains higher. However, the price reached last month does exceed that of 2005 when a copy of the Birds sold for $5.6 million. When books are sold for prices in the stratosphere, where only a few people or institutions can even pretend to compete, it all depends on how determined the top two bidders are. It takes two to tango – one to place the winning bid, another to push the price higher before finally throwing in the towel. No one can ever know just how high the winning bidder would have been willing to go, but we can always see how far the runner-up was willing to pursue.


According to Christie's, the winning bidder was an American who placed the bid by telephone. Commenting on the sale, Francis Wahlgren, Christie's  International Head of Books & Manuscripts, noted that this was the third highest price ever reached for a printed book at auction. “This strong result for Audubon’s masterpiece confirms its iconic status and it now holds the top three auction records for printed books,” he noted.


The double-elephant folio edition of Birds of America was produced in installments from 1827-38. Audubon set out to provide accurate drawings of America's bird species, and chose this very large format so that most could be depicted in actual size. The book is not particularly rare, there probably having been around 200 copies produced, 119 complete copies of which are still known to exist. Its value is so great not because of extreme rarity but because it is more a work of art, a collection of masterpieces drawn by Audubon. This particular copy can be traced back to the Fourth Duke of Portland. He was not an original subscriber, so he must have purchased the copy after 1838, but before 1854, when he died.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 1:</b> Friedrich Nietzsche, <i>Also Sprach Zarathustra</i>, Leipzig, 1908. Sold for $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 1:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk</i>, Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 17:</b> Arthur Middleton, manuscript notes from Congress, Philadelphia, 1782. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 17:</b> Joseph Smith, <i>The Book of Mormon</i>, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. Sold for $67,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 10:</b><br>L. Frank Baum, <i>The Wonderful Wizard of Oz</i>, first edition & issue, Chicago & New York, 1900. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 10:</b> Mark Twain, <i>The Adventures of Tom Sawyer</i>, first American edition, Hartford, 1876. Sold for $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 1:</b> George Washington, Partly-printed Document Signed as Commander-in-Chief, 1783. Sold for $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 1:</b> Album with more than 130 Civil War-era signatures, including 18 presidents, 1864-2010. Sold for $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b><br>Sir Isaac Newton, <i>Opticks</i>, first edition & issue, London, 1704. Sold for $87,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b> Euclid, <i>Elementa geometriae</i>, first edition, Venice, 1482. Sold for $62,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 18:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>The Winters Tale</i>, first edition, London, 1623. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 25:</b> Edward Ruscha, set of 14 first editions, 1963-78. Sold for $45,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. <i>Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie.</i> Leipzig: Johann Ambrosius Barth, 1916.<br>$80,000 – 120,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in English, Signed Integrally ("Isaac Newton"). $50,000 – 70,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life</i>. London: John Murray, 1859. $25,000 – 35,000
    <b>Bonhams: History of Science and Technology. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. <i>The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.</i> London: Benjamin Motte, 1729.<br>$20,000 – 30,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEISENBERG, WERNER. Autograph Manuscript entitled "<i>Entwicklung der Theorie der Elementarteilche,</i>” [1964].<br>$15,000 – 25,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> BERNOULLI, DANIEL. <i>Hydrodynamica, sive De viribus et motibus fluidorum commentarii.</i> Strasbourg: Johann Heinrich Decker for Johann Reinhold Dulsecker, 1738. $5,000 – 7,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> [TARKOVSKY, ANDREI ARSENIEVICH.] STRUGATSKY, BORIS AND ARKADY. Typed Manuscript for <i>Stalker</i>, being the director's working script, 1977. $150,000 – 200,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> HEMINGWAY, ERNEST. Typed Manuscript of "Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Letter," n.p., [1933]. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> SALINGER, JEROME DAVID. 4 Autograph Letters, 2 of which Signed ("Jerry") and 6 Typed Letters, 2 of which Initialed ("J"). $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams: Voices of the 20th Century. December 7, 2016</b>
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> PASTERNAK, BORIS LEONIDOVICH. Typed Manuscript Carbon, "Doktor Zhivago," with some typed corrections, Moscow, 1948. $30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> MILNE, ALAN ALEXANDER. Autograph Manuscript Signed 3 times ("A.A. Milne"), entitled "Peace with Honour: An Enquiry into the War Convention," 1934.<br>$30,000 – 50,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec. 7:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Robert Frost"), titled "Gold for Christmas," 1952. $15,000 – 20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> CURTIS, EDWARD. <i>Original glass plate photograph, Honovi – Walpi Snake Priest, prepared by Curtis for the printing of The North American Indian</i>, c.1910
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (AMERICAN WEST.), Watkins, Taber, Savage, and others. <i>Magnificent Album of Mammoth Photographs of the American West, with other subjects various</i>, ca. 1865-1880s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. <i>Darwin Family Photograph Album</i>. Down, Kent, 1871-1879
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (SECRET SERVICE). <i>The photographic archive, papers, and relics of William Kennoch, Secret Service Agent</i>. Various places, 1870s and 1880s
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> (AMERICAN REVOLUTION). <i>Daguerreotype Portrait of Baltus Stone, the earliest photo of a Revolution veteran,</i> 1846

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