• <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Adrian Reland, <i>Imperium Japonicum,</i> first European map to use Sino-Japanese characters, Amsterdam, circa 1740. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> John Overton, <i>A New & Most Exact Map of America,</i> hand colored, London, 1671. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> John James Audubon, <i>The Birds of America & Quadrupeds of North America,</i> together in 10 matching octavo bindings. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Cornelis de Jode, <i>Hemispheriu ab Aequinoctiali Linea,</i> Antwerp, 1593. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Currier & Ives, <i>Across the Continent,</i> New York, 1868, formerly in the collection of Thomas Winthrop Streeter. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Frederick Sander, <i>Reichenbachia, Orchids Illustrated & Described,</i> in four volumes, St. Albans, 1888-94. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Color woodblock map of Uraga and Edo Bay showing the course of Commodore Perry’s Black Ship squadron, Japan, circa 1854. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Manuscript report on the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry, with 2 portraits of Perry & Commander H. A. Adams, Japan. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Edward Lear, <i>Castello di Melfi in Basilicata,</i> ink, graphite & watercolor, 1847. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Abraham Ortelius, <i>Islandia,</i> Antwerp, 1603. $3,500 to $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Philippe Vandermaelen, North American volume of the first atlas to use lithography, Brussels, 1827. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 13:</b> Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, <i>A Chart of the Coast,</i> from the <i>Atlantic Neptune,</i> London, 1780. $18,000 to $22,000.
  • <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> LÉOPOLD II of Belgium. Autograph letter signed to Ferdinand de Lesseps. (Brusselss, 30th of August 1881. € 500 / 600
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Unique collection of c. 280 satirical postcards on Léopold II of Belgium.<br>€ 3.000 / 3.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Horae, use of Rouen, c. 1475.<br>€ 22.000 / 30.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> <i>Sensuyt la tresplaisante hystoire du preux et vaillant Guerin de Montglaue</i> [...]. € 6.000 / 8.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> SCUTENAIRE, Louis. <i>Mes inscriptions.</i> 1945-1963. € 1.000 / 1.200
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Études Gèographiques [puzzle].<br>€ 70 / 100
    <b>Arenberg Auctions: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Works on Paper. December 14 & 15, 2018</b>
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Unique series of fifty 19th-c. Persian miniatures. € 1.500 / 2.500
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> SIXTUS IV. <i>De sanguine Christi et De potentia Dei,</i> 1474. € 4.500 / 6.000
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> Joan Miró, lithographies. € 200 / 300
    <b>Arenberg Auctions, Dec 14-15:</b> MERIAN, Anna Maria Sibylla. [Metamorphosis of a brown butterfly]. € 4.000 / 5.000
  • <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Huang Qianren. Complete Geographic Map of the Great Qing Dynasty. £50,000 to £80,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Book of Hours of Jean Le Sauvage and Jacqueline de Boulogne. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, 12 Dec:</b> Abraham Ortelius. <i>Theatrum orbis terrarum. – Parergon. – Nomenclator ptolemaicus,</i> 1584. £80,000 to £120,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2016 Issue

Orwell Values Soar As Dystopia Closes In

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George Orwell’s literary and monetary values have soared to new highs in recent years.

George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair) is one of the few mid-20th century writers who has easily crossed over into the new century and also seen his literary reputation and monetary values rise. He is now even better known than in earlier years, and the prices of his published works, letters and ephemera have also soared, particularly those that are signed or with some personal Orwell association.

 

Although Orwell (1903-1950) attained considerable stature as an essayist, journalist, radio commentator and critic, he is best known for his two final works of fiction. They are Animal Farm (1945), a grim look at the evolution of a totalitarian state disguised as a children’s fairy tale, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), a novel where war is constant, surveillance is total and “Big Brother is watching you.” Both of these books came out near the end of the author’s life and both had US and UK editions.

 

Indeed, as Americans this month contemplate presidential choices with distinct dystopian overtones, Orwell can also be seen as a writer with uncanny prophetic abilities. He is currently ranked by some sources as the second most popular writer in the world (behind Tolkien) and - at the turn of this century a prominent British publication estimated there were as many as 40 million copies of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four then in print. The digital book base ABE lists a signed copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which sold for $26,500, as one of the most expensive books ever purchased on its site.

 

But while $26,500 is an impressive number, in the current scheme of things Orwellian, the top seems to have moved up by at least several notches. Rare Book Hub has a total of 988 listings for items by or related to Orwell dating back to 1957. A wide variety of his published work, and to a lesser extent letters have been regularly offered, with most items finding a buyer. In more recent years many have exceeded their presale estimates.

 

In 1957 an inscribed presentation copy of “Down and Out in Paris and London”, a 1933 first edition sold for measly 8 GBP (Great British Pounds). Also in 1957, an extensive lot of correspondence signed by Orwell running to 230 pages and including letters to his various publishers brought a humble 270 GBP.

 

Orwell’s work came to auction fairly frequently throughout the last half of the 20th century and up until the mid-1980s prices seldom rose out of the low two digits (whether in pounds or dollars).

 

But by the 100th anniversary of his birth in 2003 interest in Orwell was distinctly on the rise. In 2004 a copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four with a high estimate of 300 GBP sold for 2,357 GBP.  Also in 2004, a copy of Animal Farm inscribed by the author to Malcolm Muggeridge had a pre-auction high estimate of $15,000, but hammered down for $50,000.

 

With the Edward Snowden security surveillance disclosures of 2013, Orwell’s name was again on every lip. That year an inscribed copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four realized 140,500 GBP at a Sotheby’s auction, more than quadruple the pre-auction high value estimate of 30,000 GBP.

 

It wasn’t just the prices on his most famous works that were going up. In 2013 a first US edition (1934) of Burmese Days with a dust jacket sold for $16,000, also quadruple the presale high estimate. Burmese Days is Orwell’s first novel and considered a desirable and hard to find book in either the US or UK editions. Presently the British firm of Peter Harrington is offering a copy with an asking price slightly over $59,000.

 

A quick check of the online book sites brings up a variety of Orwell titles offered by other reputable booksellers with fancy asking prices. These include: Critical Essays $48,000; Keep the Aspidistra Flying $37,400; Coming Up for Air $31,000; Road to Wigan Pier $18,750; Homage to Catalonia $17,500…. to name only a few pegged in the five figure range.

 

Perhaps the choicest selection of vintage Orwell signed and association material currently on the market is an Orwell archive from the publisher Victor Gollancz. It is offered by Jonkers, a UK bookseller, asking 350,000 GBP.

www.jonkers.co.uk/rare-book/6181/the-gollancz-orwell-archive/george-orwell

 

The Jonker’s website describes the collection as: “The publisher's archive of papers relating to the publication of each of Orwell's books by his first publisher, Victor Gollancz, with the exception of Coming Up For Air (all the correspondence for which having been destroyed shortly after publication). In all some 200 documents, central to which are nineteen letters and three telegrams by Orwell, but also including four original signed contracts (one each of Down and Out in Paris and London, The Road to Wigan Pier and Inside the Whale and one for a three book deal covering, The Clergyman's Daughter, Burmese Days and Keep the Aspidistra Flying) as well as extensive correspondence between Gollancz and Leonard Moore (Orwell's agent) and Harold Rubenstein (Gollancz's solicitor) and various reader's reports and internal memos.”

 

Jonkers terms the collection “An extraordinary, comprehensive archive of correspondence between Eric Blair (George Orwell) and his publisher, regarding the writing and publishing of Orwell's books. Copies of all outgoing correspondence from Gollancz has been preserved in carbon providing a comprehensive epistolary narrative of the process of getting Orwell into print, from the initial approach from Moore introducing Orwell and his manuscript of Down and Out in Paris and London, through to Gollancz's ill fated decision to decline to publish Animal Farm. The nineteen letters from Orwell, discuss changes that need to be made to the manuscripts (Gollancz was notably cautious regarding libel). Throughout, one can chart an emboldening in Orwell's approach regarding what he was prepared to alter, his reasoning providing an insight into his creative process. The letters also discuss his work in general and touch on that of other contemporary authors (D.H.Lawrence, Henry Miller, Evelyn Waugh), his health and political views.”  A more detailed description of what is included can be found at the Jonker’s web page (See link above).

 

Even with a falling pound and rising dollar, if UK 350,000 is a bit rich for your blood consider the wealth of other (non-book) Orwell related merchandise and kitsch currently available: There is the Orwell sterling silver pendant “Thought Criminal” ($36); a plethora of Orwell t-shirts “Freedom is Slavery”, “Orwell 84”, “Big Brother is Watching You” ($18-$27); bumper stickers with Orwellian messages like, “In time of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” ($4). Farther down the food chain are magnets, key chains, decals and buttons inscribed with messages like: “Hope lies in the proles” ($1.25).

 

With a huge body of printed work and a growing array of non book auxiliary merchandise he is distinctly a man for all budgets.

 

The list of Orwell criticism and commentary is gargantuan and much of it is now online. What value it will have in the future remains to be seen. But for pure entertainment don’t miss the gangsta rap Cliff Notes style videos known as Thug Notes. There’s one for Animal Farm

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITKfr1qOZ0w and another for Nineteen Eighty-Four

www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMlOQsu2zM. They’re both done in dialect and pretty good in American street slang translation.

 

And last but not least in the “Guessed Wrong” department check out the T.S. Eliot letter to Orwell on Faber and Faber letterhead rejecting the manuscript for Animal Farm. The 1944 letter, now in the collection of the British Library, is an interesting historical footnote and a worthy reminder that hindsight is 20-20.

www.bl.uk/collection-items/letter-from-t-s-eliot-faber-to-george-orwell-rejecting-animal-farm-13-july-1944

 

On the web page displaying the historic letter the museum writes: “Publishing Animal Farm was not a straightforward task. Before its eventual publication by Secker & Warburg in August 1945, the novella was rejected by at least four different publishers, and Orwell even considered printing it as a pamphlet. While it was written in the form of an animal fable, readers of Animal Farm immediately recognised it for what it was: a satire of Stalinism which condemned totalitarian practices and presented Stalin as a traitor of the Russian Revolution. Many publishers thought the work too controversial to be published at a time in which the Soviet Union was a powerful ally of Britain against Germany. Another publisher objected to the choice of pigs as the protagonists of the story, worried that such portrayal would offend Russian readers. Despite these initial difficulties, Animal Farm achieved considerable success in Britain and abroad, and within months of its publication the work was translated into several languages.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts Online<br>Ending December 17</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies…</i> The Second Impression. 1632. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> GEORGE CURZON, 1ST MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON. “Curzon Tiger Hunt.” [India: circa 1901]. 120 albumen photographs. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> (CASSADY, NEAL). Kerouac, Jack. <i>On the Road.</i> New York: Viking Press, 1957. Inscribed. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> VEGA, JOSEPH PENSO DE LA. <i>Confusion de Confusiones. Dialogos curiosos entre un Philosopho agudo, un Mercader discrete...</i> Amsterdam, 1688. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Sotheby’s Online, Now - Dec 17:</b> RACKHAM, ARTHUR — [WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]. "The Moon Like to a Silver Bow New-Bent in Heaven," original illustration for <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream.</i> $12,000 to $18,000
  • <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> WETZEL, CHARLES M. American Fishing Books. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> BISSELL, ALFRED E., <i>In Pursuit of Salar.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> <i>The Settler and Sportsman in Anticosti.</i> $400 to $600
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> CARLETON, HENRY GUY, <i>Advice to Young Anglers.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> ROBINSON, ROLAND EVANS, <i>Forest and Stream Fables. By Awahsoose the Bear.</i> $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SAWADA, KEN, <i>The Art of the Classic Salmon Fly.</i> $300 to $500
    <center><b>Doyle: Angling Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson<br>Online Only Auction ending Dec. 18</b>
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>The Evolution of Trout and Trout Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, Arnold “Jake” Johnson Online-Only Auction, ending Dec 18:</b> SOUTHARD, CHARLES ZIBEON, <i>Trout Fly-Fishing in America.</i> $400 to $600
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s New York<br>Fine Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from a Distinguished Private Collection: Part II<br>December 13, 2018</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Sibelius, Jean. Autograph manuscript of “Spagnuolo” for piano, boldly signed “Jean Sibelius.” $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Verdi, Giuseppe. Fourteen largely unpublished autograph letters signed to Alessandro Lanari, the “Napoleon of Impresarios.” $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Jefferson, Thomas. Autograph letter signed ("Th: Jefferson") to William Lee, Monticello, 26 August 1816. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Whitman, Walt. Signed carte-de-visite photograph by Benjamin Gurney, 1875. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Dec 13:</b> Wilde, Oscar. Autograph letter signed ("Oscar Wilde"). 8 pages on 2 bifolia of different sizes, with ink sketch on the first page. $25,000 to $30,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Thomas Malton, <i>Malton's Oxford,</i> 4 original parts, 1st edition, 1802-1804. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> John Papworth, <i>Select Views of London,</i> 1st edition, Ackermann, 1816. £1000 to £1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> William Curtis, <i>Flora Londinensis,</i> 5 volumes, 1st edition, 1835. £5000 to £7000
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Thomas Jerdon, <i>Illustrations of Indian Ornithology…,</i> 1st edition, 1847. From the ornithological library of Martin Woodcock. £1000 to £1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> C. & J. Greenwood, <i>London from actual survey made in the years 1824, 1825 & 1826...,</i> 1830. £3000 to £5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Joseph Smith, <i>The Book of Doctrine and Covenants,</i> 2nd European edition, Liverpool, 1849. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 12:</b> Khaqani, <i>Tuhfat al-’Iraqayn [‘The Gift of the Two Iraqs’],</i> probably Safavid Iran [c. 1600]. £700 to £1000
    <b>Dominic Winter Auctioneers: Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Dec 12; Modern Literature & First Editions, Dec 13</b>
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Steiff. A pair of rare Steiff rod bears, c. 1904. £7,000 to £10,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Golden Cockerel Press, <i>Canterbury Tales, Illustrated by Eric Gill,</i> 4 volumes, 1929-31. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Lord Byron (1788-1824), A piece of red damask from the bridal bed curtain of Lord & Lady Byron, Seaham Hall, 1815. £2000 to £3000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Rupert Brooke (1887-1915), Autograph letter signed to an admiring Cambridge friend, the notable bookseller E.P. Goldschmidt, [1907]. £3000 to £5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, Dec 13:</b> Eric Ambler, <i>Cause For Alarm,</i> 1st edition in dust jacket, inscribed by the author, 1938. £1500 to £2000
  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

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