Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2012 Issue

Sendak’s Death Spurs Interest in His Works

Cover from Art of Maurice Sendak 1980 shows Wild Things.

Not many creators of books for children get a front page obituary in the New York Times; but then there aren’t many who could match Maurice Sendak, the multi-talented illustrator and writer, who died on May 8, 2012 at the age of 83.

Sendak is best remembered as the creator of the monster-like creatures who populated the pages of “Where the Wild Things Are.” The book, published by Harper & Row in 1963, won a Caldecott medal in 1964. Its first printing was reportedly 25,000 copies.

Since then it’s been continuously in print, in hard cover, paperback and library editions, in English and many other languages. There was also a special edition commemorating its 25th anniversary. Approaching its 50th anniversary it's still going strong.

In retrospect it’s interesting to note that when Wild Things was first published concern was expressed that it was too rough and dangerous for young minds.

But no, though Max is a swashbuckler and the monsters are indeed scary with horns and claws, they are also loveable and with their own special cukoo-ness. Like the boomers themselves who marched and protested their way through the 60s (and went home to read Wild Things to their children at bedtime, not once but thousands of times), maybe, not as dangerous as all that.

Sendak – Popular and Can Be Pricey

Wild Things is popular and it can be pricey. In fact, few late 20th century books for young people have seen first edition values go up quite so steeply. An unsigned copy of the first edition, estimated at $2,000 to $3,000, brought $4,062.50 in a Heritage Auction in February of 2012 according to the AE Database.

If interest in Sendak was strong before his death, it has zoomed since then, as collectors renewed their interest not only in his books, but also toys, figurines, posters, puppets, movies. The market for ephemera, including promotional materials, calendars, Christmas cards and a variety of items signed by or with sketches by Sendak is also strong. 

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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