Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2013 Issue

AbeBooks Announces Most Expensive Book Sales for 2012

Abecasinoroy

The first of the highly collectible James Bond books.

AbeBooks recently released their list of the top prices paid on their site in 2012. AbeBooks is the largest of the old and used book listing sites, their total sales not revealed, but clearly in the many millions annually. Well over 100 million books are listed on the AbeBooks sites around the world.

Most of the books listed on Abe are inexpensive, undoubtedly meant as reading copies. However, the site also offers a rare book room, and over the years, the prices achieved on these collectible works has been steadily moving up. The top priced items are probably at a level no one would have expected when Abe first burst on the scene in the 1990s. While the top priced item was a little below last year's chart topping $51,739, by the time you get to #10, the price was over 50% higher than last year's tenth highest price. That is a sign that the amount of money people are willing to pay through an online listing site is continuing to move up.

What is perhaps most noticeable about this list is that although Abe is a North American site, the list is dominated by European titles. Perhaps Europeans are a bit more willing to buy high-priced books online. Here are the top 10 highest prices paid for books on the AbeBooks website in 2012.

10. Les Ruines de les Plus Beaux Monuments de la Grece, by Julien David LeRoy. This is a 1770 second edition of the French architect and archeologist's book about the ancient ruins and monuments of Greece. $23,530.


9. Cosmographia, by Petrus Apianus. This is a 1551 edition of Peter Apianus' work of geography, astronomy, navigation and more, first published in 1524. $23,681.


8. Livre d'Heures (Book of Hours), a mid 16th century version printed on parchment  once owned by Etienne de Poncher, Archbishop of Tours. $24,680.


5-7. A Polyglot Bible, from 1599-1602, edited by Elisa Hutter. It was the first polyglot bible in which English was one of the languages used. $25,000.


5-7. Little Women, a first edition of Louisa May Alcott's classic. $25,000.


5-7. Where the Wild Things Are, a first edition of Maurice Sendak's most popular of his many favorite children's books. $25,000.


4. A Latin Bible, the so-called “poor man's bible” as it was the first published in the smaller octavo size (1491). $26,200.


3. Die Verwandlung (the Metamorphosis), a first edition (1915) of Franz Kafka's short novel. $30,000.


2. Casino Royale, a signed first edition of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, published in 1953. The Bond novels have become eminently collectible in recent years. $46,453.


1. Uranometria, Omnium Asterismorum Continens Schemata, by Johann Bayer. A 1603 first edition of this astronomical history. $47,729.


For AbeBooks complete top 25, plus the top selling books in various categories, click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
    <b>TO AKABA! T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. Books, manuscripts and pictures. On exhibition 16 to 24th July at Maggs' new premises 48 Bedford Square.</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On</i>, designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, <i>Le Journal / La Traite des Blanches</i>, 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>"Let Us Go Forward Together,"</i> designer unknown, 1940. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, <i>Babylone d'Allemagne</i>, 1894. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Frank Beatty, <i>Out of the Running</i>, 1929. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Wake Up America Day</i>, 1917. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> <i>Danté / Sim • Sala • Bim!</i>, designer unknown. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>[Zodiac]</i>, 1900. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Rick Griffin, <i>Jimi Hendrix Experience / John Mayall</i>, 1968. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2: Vintage Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Abram Games, <i>Join the ATS</i>, 1941. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Aldo Mazza, <i>Torino / Esposizione Internazionale</i>, 1911. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 2:</b> Robert Motherwell, <i>Julliard School / Dedication - Lincoln Center</i>, 1969. $3,000 to $4,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions