Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2017 Issue

AbeBooks' New Top 10 Highest Prices Range from the Classics to the Strange

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Dali's interpretation of one of the fantastic creatures from Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel.

AbeBooks has released their list of the Top 10 highest prices reached on their site for the third quarter of 2017, July-September. We find books noted for their content, others for their illustrations, and a couple of personal compilations. Among the latter is a very strange typescript collection of erotic works, some written especially for the Oklahoma oilman who commissioned them. It's what happens when you combine odd tastes with too much money. Speaking of strange, two books on the list feature the unusual artwork of Salvadore Dali. Here is Abe's most recent Top 10 list.

 

10. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin. The scarce 1813 second edition of this Austen classic. $7,821.

 

9. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. A signed 1960 first edition. $8,500.

 

8. Leviathan, or, the Matter, Form, and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, by Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes writes during the English Civil War (1651) for a social contract between government and the people, but under an all-powerful monarch. $8,577.

 

7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This is hardly a first edition, its 1969 date over a century later. However, it is the edition illustrated by Salvadore Dali, with original woodcuts and an etching. $8,800.

 

6. A Collection of 1,200 typescript pages consisting of 82 original and classic erotic stories, poems, songs and jokes compiled by an Oklahoma oilman. This one needs some explanation. Roy Melisander Johnson, who lived from 1881-1960, had an insatiable need for written erotica. Since there evidently was not enough available in print, he hired agents to find writers to produce original stories of "romanceless erotica" for him. While most items are not attributed, some of those believed to have contributed include Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and painter Robert DeNiro, Sr. (father of the actor). $9,500.

 

5. A Collection of Letters from Hubert Lyautey to his editor Max Leclerc. Lyautey was French Resident-General of Morocco from 1912-1925, nicknamed the "Maker of Morocco," who appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1931 as an "empire builder." $9,659.

 

3 (tie). A Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland, by Richard Whitbourne. Known as the "Father of Newfoundland," Whitbourne first traveled there in 1579 to hunt whales and trade with the natives. He became an enthusiastic advocate of colonization. This is a revised second edition from 1622. $10,000.

 

3. (tie). Oxford Night Caps Being a Collection of Receipts for Making Various Beverages Used in The University, by Richard Cook. This sounds like a lot of money for a cocktail book, but AbeBooks explains, it is "a pioneering book for all drinkers and bartenders. First printing of the first known cocktail book to be published in the English language from 1827." Just 38 pages, it was prepared to help Oxford students with their social life. $10,000.

 

2. The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham. The 1951 first UK edition of the science fiction thriller about killer plants, inscribed by the author. Eat your vegetables before they eat you. $13,844.

 

1. Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, by Salvadore Dali. This is a collection of 25 images adapted by Dali in 1973 from the Songs of Pantagruel, published in 1565. The original consisted of 120 images of grotesque semi-human creatures. It was published by Richard Breton under the name of Francois Rabelais, author of Gargantua and Pantagruel, but it is unlikely Rabelais had much to do with this book since he died a dozen years earlier. $16,840.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>Aurora Australis.</i> Printed at the sign of 'The Penguins'; East Antarctica, 1908. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Shackleton, Ernest. <i>South Polar Times.</i> 1st edition, limited issue. from the library of Michael Barne. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> General Washington's <i>Proceedings of a General Court Martial... of Major General Lee.</i> Philiadelphia, 1778. 100 copies printed for Congress. BOUND WITH: ...Court Martial... of St Clair and ...Schuyler. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>The Voice of the People.</i> Boston, 1754. Rare pamphlet on the Excise Tax. Nathaniel Sparhawk's copy. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), offering extensive hard-earned advice on writing, 5 pp, 1881. $30,000 to $50,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> After Fra Egnazio Danti. <i>L'Ultime Parti not:e nel Indie Occid:ntli" [The last known parts of the Western Indies].</i> Painted Map of California, Western Mexico, and Japan. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Ptolemaeus, Claudius. <i>Geographie opus nouissima...</i> 1513. The most important edition of Ptolemy, containing the Admiral's Map. $250,000 to $350,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> De Arellano, Don Alonso. Manuscript, his <i>"Relación mui singular y circunstanciada... Capitán del Patax San Lucas,"</i> manuscript copy from the Sir Thomas Phillips collection. $50,000 to $80,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Purchas, Samuel. <i>Purchas his Pilgrimes.</i> First edition. With John Simth's engraved map of Virginia. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Bonhams: Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana, Part I. September 25, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> Lewis, Meriwether. Contemporary manuscript true copy of his final power of attorney, 1809. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>A New Method of Macarony Making, as Practiced at Boston in North America.</i> Mezzotint. London, 1774. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 25:</b> <i>Scientific Base Ball Pitching: A Treatise on the Pitcher, Pitching, Origin and Philosophy of the Curve.</i> Chicago, 1897. $2,000 to $3,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Franklin H. Brown, <i>State Sovereignty, National Union,</i> Chicago, 1860. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b><br>The Aitken Bible, Philadelphia, 1781. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francisco Loubayssin de Lamarca, probable first edition of the first novel set in the Spanish New World, Paris, 1617. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Juan de la Anunciación, <i>Sermonario en lengua mexicana,</i> first edition, first book of sermons in Nahuatl, Mexico, 1577. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Maturino Gilberti, <i>Thesoro spiritual en lengua de Mechuacá,</i> first edition, Mexico, 1558. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Commission of William O. Stoddard as secretary to the president, signed by Lincoln, Washington, 1861. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> <i>Clay and Frelinghuysen,</i> flag banner, circa 1844. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Daguerreotype of a man believed to be Frederick Granger Williams Smith, son of Joseph Smith, circa late 1850s. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> John C. Wolfe, <i>Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,</i> oil on board in period wooden frame, circa 1860s. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 27:</b> Family letters from two young daguerreotype artists, 1826-79. $10,000 to $15,000.

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