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>Doyle: Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson. Online only auction Aug 3-14</b>
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>The Sportsman's Portfolio of American Field Sports.</i> 1855. Est: $600 to $900
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Bishop's Birds. Etchings of Water-Fowl and Upland Game Birds.</i> 1936. Est: $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hunting Big Game in Far Northwest British Columbia</i>. 1904. Est: $500 to $800
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Mananaland. Adventuring with Camera and Rifle Through California in Mexico.</i> 1929. Est: $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle: Hunting Books from the Collection of Arnold "Jake” Johnson. Online only auction Aug 3-14</b>
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Grand Canyon Trails.</i> 1924. Est: $300 to $500
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>A Sporting Trip through Abyssinia. A Narrative of a nine months’ journey..</i> 1902. Est: $200 to $300
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hunting in Tanzania [...in Zimbabwe; ...the Sudan; ...in Botswana; ...in Ethiopia; ...in Zambia; ...in South Africa; ...in Kenya]</i>. 1991-2000. Est: $800 to $1200
    <b>Doyle, Online only auction Aug 3-14:</b> <i>Hounds and Hunting through the Ages ... with an Introduction by the Earl of Lonsdale</i>. 1928. Est: $600 to $900
  • <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:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000

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