Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Sex and Rage: BookFinder Issues Its Annual Report of the 100 Most Sought After Old Books

Mado1

Madonna is a perennial #1.

BookFinder.com has issued its annual report of the 100 most sought after old books on their website. This is one of my favorites as it's such an eclectic list. BookFinder is a listing site search, that is, it searches many of the book listing sites all at once for matches. It is a place you go when you are trying to locate a particularly hard to find old book, one that may show up on only one listing site. As a result, the books on this list are likely to be highly wanted, yet out of print and hard to find.

This is a somewhat unusual combination because highly desirable out of print books are usually reprinted, at which point they stop being hard to find, and candidates for the BookFinder Top 100. Therefore, we frequently see books that were high on the list one year drop out the next, not because buyers stopped wanting them, but because they were reprinted and became easy to find. An example is Norman Mailer's Marilyn, which after four straight appearances was reprinted and disappeared from the list.

The few books that make an appearance year after year, then, tend to have some special circumstances. The most common explanation is that the book was an early work by a famous author, one they are now embarrassed by and refuse to allow to be reprinted. Nora Roberts' Promise Me Tomorrow, an early work she does not allow to be reprinted, is a long-running such example. Some might ask why Nora Roberts would single out one of her books in particular for this honor, but that is not a question I would ask.

Before we get to the top 10, we will take a look at a few of the other 90 titles that made the list. Number 85 is the oddly titled Apple Pigs by Ruth Orbach. It turns out this 1977 children's book has a loyal following of parents who loved the book when they were young, but can't find copies to give to their children. It's about a family that cares for a tired old apple tree, to be rewarded with such an abundance of fruit they have to share it with every conceivable person and animal.

We have seen this one before: #71 Pancakes A to Z, by Marie Simmons. It's a regular on the BookFinder 100. However, this is a new entry: #94 Almonds and Raisins, by Maisie Moscoe.

Number 67 provides one side of America's most famous dispute: McCoys: their story as told to the author by eye witnesses and descendants, by Truda Williams McCoy. Miss Williams, who married a McCoy, started her family history of the McCoys and their dispute with the Hatfields in 1920, and put her manuscript away in 1935, unable to find a publisher. It was not until after her death many years later that her daughter managed to get the book published (1976).

Item 31 is Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI, 1895-1952, by Sarah Bradford. George VI, a shy prince who stammered when he tried to deliver a speech, was never expected to be King. However, when his older brother abdicated for “the woman I love” in 1936, George was forced onto the throne, just as the winds of war were leading Britain to its most threatening of times. The current popularity of this book undoubtedly traces to the Academy Award winning film about George's speaking issues, The King's Speech. George VI died in 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter Elizabeth, Queen to this day.

Here now, are the top ten most sought after books:

10. Tudor Roses by Alice Starmore. Once, knitting books dominated the list. Not so much anymore, but this title by an expert on traditional Scottish knitting still makes the cut.

9. 365 Bedtime Stories, by Nan Gilbert. This contains a one-page story per night for young children at bedtime. It's unclear how parents are supposed to handle leap year.

8. Codex Seraphinianus, by Luigi Serafini. A regular on the top 10, this is a strange, complicated, illustrated book about a fantasy world written in a consistent, though incomprehensible invented language.

7. Man in Black, by Johnny Cash. The autobiography of the country music legend has been moving in and out of the top 10 for years.

6. Mandingo, by Kyle Onstott. This 1950s novel set in the antebellum South would be turned into one of the more successful of the “blaxploitation” films.

5. Pure, White and Deadly; the Problem of Sugar, by John Yudkin. Too few people read this book when it was new in 1972, so now we have an obesity problem. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find this book now.

4. My Pretty Pony, by Stephen King. This story by the immensely popular King was printed in a relatively short run, hence the supply/demand imbalance.

3. Promise me Tomorrow, by Nora Roberts. A perennial on this list, the ever-popular Ms. Roberts does not like this book and hence will not let it be reprinted.

2. Rage, by Richard Bachman. “Richard Bachman” is actually Stephen King. See #4 above.

1. Sex, by Madonna. This one is always #1. The 1992 pictorial essay has never been reprinted, though the demand is obvious. Despite the enormous amount of twisted material now readily available on the internet (which essentially did not exist in 1992), this book was so pioneering in its kinkiness that even today it manages to push the envelope. It is a lasting tribute to the power of weird sex.

The complete BookFinder 100 can be found at www.bookfinder.com/books/bookfinder_report_2012

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, NY, 1892. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Scarce <i>Events of the Tulsa Disaster,</i> First Edition, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass by Benjamin F. Smith, 1864. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> California Imprint of <i>President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation</i> Broadside, 1864. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> John C.H. Grabill Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat, ca 1886. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,</i> 2nd Cookbook Published by African American. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Frederick Douglass Walking Stick, 1888. $3,000 to $5,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California, <i>Life and Adventures of James Williams.</i> $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire <i>De La Littérature des Nègres</i>. $2,500 to $3,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> African American Soldier and Medal of Honor Winner Christian A. Fleetwood CDV, PLUS. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries Pennant, 1910 Reno, Nevada. $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Joe Gans Photograph at 1906 Goldfield, Nevada Fight by Percy Dana. $600 to $800
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel, By a Lady,</i> 3 volumes, London, 1811. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Kew Gardens,</i> limited edition, signed by Woolf & Bell, London, 1927. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> <i>[Arabian Nights],</i> Calcutta II version, 4 volumes, Calcutta & London, 1839-1842. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 ALS to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor, anticipating Christie’s sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Emma,</i> first edition, London, 1816. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Hirohito & Nagako, Emperor & Empress of Japan, 2 photographs signed, showing Nagako in kimono & obi bearing the imperial seal. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 autograph letters signed to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor Elizabeth Tilberis, anticipating Christie’s announcement of a sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Sarojini Naidu, complete galley proof of <i>The Broken Wing</i> signed with several holograph pages & an autograph letter signed to writer Edmund Gosse, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Fernando Pessoa, <i>Mensagem,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, Lisbon, 1934. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Graham Greene, <i>The Basement Room,</i> first edition, Greene’s personal copy, signed with annotations throughout, London, 1935. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed, call for troops issued during America’s first national draft just days before the NYC draft riots, 1863. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b><br><i>Les Chansons de Bilitis</i> by Pierre Louÿs, illustrated by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1922. $8,000 to $12,000.

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