Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2011 Issue

AE's Top 500 Book Auction Prices for 2010

Custerflag

Custer's flag is not well, but it is a survivor.

10.  A decorated manuscript commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, created in the 11th century. $781,293.

 

9.  An anonymous leaflet published in 1509 which is the first book to officially use the name "America" to describe the New World. $796,770.

 

8. Jean Baptiste Gouvion's 1791 Battle of Yorktown map, drawn just ten days after the battle. $1,150,000.

 

7.  Even more expensive than The Times They Are A Changin' is John Lennon's manuscript lyrics to A Day in the Life. $1,202,500.

 

6.  Abel Buell's 1784 A New and Correct Map of the United States of North America, the first map published in the U.S.A. $2,098,500.

 

5.  Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies by William Shakespeare, better known as the First Folio, published in 1623. Undoubtedly the most important work of English literature. $2,315,273.

 

4.  The Rochefoucauld Grail, three-volume French illuminated manuscript circa 1315-23, the fundamental medieval work on the Holy Grail. $3,700,802.

 

3.  A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, provenance of Robert F. Kennedy. $3,778,500.

 

2.  Sports trumps it all. The original typed, signed rules to the game of basketball as written by the game's founder, James Naismith, at one time posted in his Springfield, Massachusetts, gym. $4,338,500.

 

1.  This book was already known as the most expensive printed book in the world when it came up for auction at Sotheby's on December 7, 2010. It earned that reputation ten years earlier when a copy sold at Christie's for what was still a record price for a printed work - $8,802,500. Sotheby's placed an estimate of roughly $6.25-$9.4 million on it. The book did not disappoint. Number 1 goes to a first edition of what is perhaps also the greatest illustrated book, the double elephant folio of John James Audubon's Birds of America, from the 1830s. This one hammered down at $11,321,215, thereby setting a new record for the most expensive printed book.

 

You may view the entire AE Top 500 by clicking this link.

 

Addendum

 

Should I stay or should I go:  Compiling a list of the top 500 books, manuscripts and related ephemera is not quite as easy as it sounds. Some items work the margins. A book of artwork is in, but how about a portfolio? A print? A photograph? An illustration? How about an illustration that was used in a book? A cartoon? A poster?

 

We have generally chosen to include items around the margins that were intended to provide informative or literary content, while leaving out those that are more of artistic merit. Single illustrations from Audubon's Birds of America portfolio (intended for binding) are in. Pierre-Joseph Redoute watercolors (there were a bunch that qualified financially) were left out, though a copy of his book, Les Liliacees, is in. We have left out photographs, though there were some historic ones, unless part of a book or album. That meant leaving out many of historic merit, including several daguerreotypes from the early 1840s (the dawn of photography) by Girault de Prangey, signed photographs of Lincoln ($103,000) and Kit Carson ($66,225), and an early daguerreotype of Seneca Indian teacher and later aide to General Ulysses Grant, Caroline Parker ($62,500). We did include an early photograph of Proust since he is known as an author.

 

There are a few others we would have liked to include, but they just went too far afield. A Christie's Books & Manuscripts auction included a circa 1900 street sign for the intersection of Wall Street and Broad in New York City ($116,500). There was a Union Jack carried by Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated trip to the South Pole in a travels auction ($113,270). We really debated over this one - one of the pens President Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation ($74,500). Finally, on December 10, Sotheby's held three single-lot auctions. One is #2 on the list, Naismith's basketball rules, another, #3, is Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. This item is a symbol of one of the most written about episodes in American history, and would have been #6 ($2,210,500) but did not quite qualify. It is the one guidon (flag) not captured by the Indians that Custer carried into his famous, and final, last stand. It is tattered and worn, with pieces missing, but unlike Custer and his men, it was a survivor.

 

 

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b><br>Die Französische Expedition gegen Mexico /Beilagen zum Beiheft des Militair - Wochenblattes
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b><br>The Architecture Of M. Vitruvius Pollio. London, 1791.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Estatuto Provisional del Imperio Mexicano. México: Imprenta de Andrade y Escalante, 1865.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Historia de Méjico... México, 1849 - 1852.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Juárez, Benito - Ogazón, Pedro. Legajos de Bandos del Estado de Guadalajara, 1860-1863.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Sigüenza y Góngora, Carlos. Mapa de las Aguas que por el Círculo de 90 Leguas Vienen a la Laguna de Tescuco... Méx, 1748.
    <b>Morton Subastas on Bidsquare:</b> Cruces y Campa / Aubert / Valleto. Pareja Imperial, Fusilamiento de Maximiliano, Tipos Mexicanos... ca,1875.
  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> NASA archive with 351 photographs, silver & chromogenic prints, 1960-2002. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Edward S. Curtis, suite of 18 cyanotypes, 1910-14. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Edward S. Curtis, <i>Horse Capture, Atsina,</i> unique copper plate for <i>The North American Indian,</i> 1908. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> John Whipple, <i>Harriet Beecher Stowe,</i> salted print from a calotype negative, 1853. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Lewis Carroll, <i>Xie Kitchen,</i> albumen print, circa 1872. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Ansel Adams, <i>Taos Pueblo,</i> limited, signed first edition of the artist's first book, 12 silver bromide prints, 1930. $30,000 to $45,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b><br>JFK in his motorcade about 2 mins before his assassination, chromogenic print, 1963. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Anton Guilio Bragaglia, 6 photomechanical postcards with facsimile signatures, 1911-13, printed 1932. $30,000 to $45,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Feb 21:</b> Société Anonyme, Inc, group of 9 postcards, including 8 real photo postcards, 1920-30. $25,000 to $35,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> BELON. <i>L’Histoire de la nature des oyseaux.</i> Paris : Corrozet, 1555. $17,000 to $23,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> MIOMANDRE – BARBIER. <i>Dessins sur les danses de Vaslav Nijinsky.</i> Paris. 1913. $23,000 to $34,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> HOKUSAI. <i>Fugaku Hyakkei, Edo : Nishimura Yûzô.</i> 1834-1875. $58,000 to $80,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> EDWARDS. <i> <br>A Natural History of Uncommon Birds…</i> London : Printed for the Author. 1743-1764. $35,000 to $46,000
    <b>Christie’s Paris, 20 Feb:</b> VESALIUS. <i><br> De Humane Corporis Fabrica libri septem...</i> Basle : J. Oporinus. 1555. $58,000 to $80,000

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