Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2009 Issue

AbeBooks Lists Its Ten Most Expensive Items of 2008

Hayden

Self-portrait of Sir Francis Seymour Hayden, whose book finished number 1 on AbeBooks.


By Michael Stillman

AbeBooks affords us one last chance to look back at 2008 with their list of the Top 10 prices paid for books offered on their site during the past year. Considering that 110 million items are listed, and many millions were sold, this is quite an exclusive list. The subject matter of these works was, for the most part, fairly serious. There are works on science, math, photography, art, politics, and religion. However, there are also a couple of books for children included. What is missing, surprisingly enough, is literature - no novels made their way into the top 10. It is strictly truth and fairy tales, that is, nonfiction and children's books, that rule the Top 10. Here they are:

10. Biblia Latina, printed by Johannes Herbort de Seligenstadt. We don't see a great deal of incunabula sold on listing sites, but this 1484 bible is an exception. $10,807.

9. Peter Beard Collector's Edition by Peter Beard, about as un-incunable as it gets. This is a 2006 limited collector's copy signed by the noted photographer. $10,808.

8. Grimms Fairy Tales by Jakob & Wilhelm Grimm, a first edition, first issue with 22 etched plates by George Cruikshank. $11,388.

7. An autographed letter from humorous poet Edward Lear, best known for The Owl and the Pussycat. This 1867 letter contained a self-caricature sketch by Lear along with a comedic request to visit the recipient. $11,491.

6. The first six books of the Elements of Euclid, an 1847 edition published by the Chiswick Press. Designed to simplify Euclid's propositions, it has been described as "one of the oddest and most beautiful books of the century." $11,750.

5. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia, by David Roberts. This is the 1855 first American edition of this work by the prolific artist/illustrator who visited the Holy Land in the 1830s. Interestingly, an 1838 edition of this same work was number 5 on Abe's Top 10 last year as well. $12,360.

4. Specimens of British minerals selected from the cabinet of Philip Rashleigh, by Philip Rashleigh. This work describes the British landowner's rock collection. $12,754.

3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, a rare first edition signed by the author. $12,874.

2. L'Abou Naddara, Journal Arabe Illustre (1878-1884) by James Sanua. Sanua, also known as "Abu Naddara" (Father Spectacles), produced these political journals pertaining to Egypt in Paris to overcome suppression in that country by Egyptian officials. $13,000.

1. Etudes à l'Eau-Forte by Francis Seymour Haden, a collection of 25 etchings by Hayden, 24 of landscapes in Britain and Ireland, plus one a portrait of Hayden. $17,216.

AbeBooks also published lists of Top 10's by category, and among those headed by books that did not make the overall Top 10 were Poems (1909-1925) by TS Eliot for poetry ($8,500); Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis for science fiction and fantasy ($7,950); Lord of the Flies by William Golding for novels ($9,260); and Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama for books by people in the headlines ($5,500). Finally, for the most unusual item on the list, in the category of ephemera, number 1 was George Bernard Shaw's typewriter. Perhaps it will similarly inspire its new owner. This antiquarian word processor sold for $7,979.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>
  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</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>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.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions