Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2010 Issue

AbeBooks Announces Their Top 10 for 2009

Piranesi1

The top priced book sold on AbeBooks in 2009, by Giovanni Battista Piranesi.


By Michael Stillman

In 2009, AbeBooks regularly had around 110 million books posted for sale on their website. We don't have the figures, but estimate something in the 8 to 10 million area were sold, mostly used books, intended for reading, reference or school. The average price was probably in the $20 range. This story is not about the average Abe book. It's about the very best. Occasionally, the site is host to the sale of the uncommon, rare or antiquarian book. This is where Abe intersects with the world of highly collectible books. As 2009 came to a close, AbeBooks went back to its sales for the year and compiled a list of the Top 10 prices paid during the previous 12 months. Actually, there are 12 books in the Top 10, though the numbers only go through 9. That riddle is solved with the word "tie." Here, then, are the most expensive books sold via the AbeBooks website for the year 2009.

9. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger' s tale of youth, a first edition published in 1951. $11,000.

9. Tender is the Night, another first edition of an American classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1934. $11,000.

9. The Origin of Species, an 1860 first American edition of the book that introduced Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. $11,000.

9. The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ, an item perhaps more appealing to those who do not care for the #9 above. This is a 1931 Golden Cockerel Press edition by Eric Gill. $9,000.

8. Imre: A Memorandum by Xavier Mayne (pseudonym for Edward Irenaeus Prime-Stevenson). Inscribed by "X.M." This 1906 novel is considered the first to portray a homosexual relationship in a positive light. $12,000.

5. Works of Charles Dickens, a 22-volume Chapman and Hall set, along with a note of presentation dated 1859 from Dickens. $12,500.

5. Libellus ysagogicus Abdilasi Id est servi gloriosi dei: qui dicitur Alchabitius ad magisterium iuditiorum astrorum, a 1485 German edition of the works of 10th century Arabian astrologer Alchabitius. $12,500.

5. Dreams of My Father, published more than half a millennium after the previous item (1996). This is a first edition of the book by now President Barack Obama. $12,500.

4. YA-WAE PA-HU-CAE E-CAE AE-TA-NAE E-TU-HCE WA-U-N A-H A. Original Hymns in the Ioway Language by William Hamilton & Samuel M. Irvin. This is an 1843 hymnal in the Ioway dialect published by the Sac Mission Press. $13,500.

3. The Dark Tower Series, first editions of all seven volumes in the series in a signed slipcase from author Stephen King. $14,000.

2. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, first London editions (1866, 1872) of the classics written by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by John Tenniel. $14,377.

1. Della Magnificenza ed Architettura de'Romaniand Osservazioni sopra la Lettre de M. Mariette by Giovanni Battista Piranesi. This is a book about ancient Roman structures, containing Piranesi's etchings of them. $17,000.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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