• <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>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

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2014 Issue

Tracking the Most Expensive Book – A Copy of Audubon's Birds of America is Sold

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A copy of the most expensive, reasonably obtainable printed book was sold at auction at the beginning of April. The double-elephant folio first edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America was hammered down at Sotheby's in New York on April 1. For years, Audubon's Birds held the record for the highest price ever reached at auction. It was pushed down a notch last fall when a copy of the Bay Psalm Book surpassed its record, but the Bay Psalm is not really obtainable. It had been 66 years since the previous copy was offered at auction, and it's unlikely that any of us will live long enough to see another one come around. A Gutenberg Bible would obtain many, many times as much as a Bay Psalm if it ever reached market, but none of those have been seen since early in the last century. An Audubon first is still obtainable, a copy coming to market every few years.

 

This can be explained by the relative commonness of a first edition Birds of America. There are believed to be at least 120 copies of it still in existence. Only 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book are known to have survived. Many more copies of the Bay Psalm Book were said to have been printed, but it was not a spectacular production and would have been used until worn ragged. Audubon's Birds was a spectacularly beautiful book. Most copies were lovingly cared for and handed down through the generations.

 

This copy did not achieve anything like the $11.4 million record reached by the Lord Hesketh copy in 2010. It wasn't expected to be close. The Lord Hesketh copy was in pristine condition. This one was not. It wasn't in bad shape; it just wasn't particularly good either. Instead, it sold for $3,525,000. That was above the $3 million estimate of its previous owner, the Indiana Historical Society, and within the $3-$5 million estimate range given by Sotheby's.

 

The Indiana Historical Society purchased its copy in 1933, for a very reasonable price of $4,000. That was during the height of the Depression, so bargains were undoubtedly available, especially since $4,000 would have been a meaningful amount of money in those days. Nonetheless, a gain of 88,000% is more than good, even for 80 years. Whoever made that purchase on behalf of the Indiana Historical Society is owed a big “thank you.”

 

The shortcoming in terms of value with this copy is that it had been purchased by the Indiana Historical Society from a library. Library copies are often actually used, as opposed to being gently placed on a bookshelf. There was some soiling and other evidences of use. Linen backing to the plates did not help. Still, $3.5 million is serious cash. We do not know this for certain, but would not be surprised if this is the highest price ever paid for an ex-library book.

 

This was the fifth copy of this book to come up for sale at auction this century. The most recent previous copy sold in 2012 for $7,922,500. Before that, the then record setting Hesketh copy went in 2010. Another copy sold in 2005 for $5,616,000, and one sold in 2000 for $8,802,500. The 2000 sale also set a record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction at that time, not surpassed until the Hesketh copy a decade later. At least four copies of the book sold in the 20th century for over $1 million.

 

Along with Audubon's most famous work, one other book was sold at Sotheby's auction. It was a copy of Audubon's other great color plate book – a first edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. It sold for $245,000. The Indiana Historical Society purchased this book in 1951 for $900.

 

The Probability of Reappearance tool that comes with the AE Database estimates that another copy of the first edition of Birds of America will likely come around for auction again in roughly another 3 years. If you are interested in getting the next one, we suggest you start saving your pennies today.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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
  • <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>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

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