Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2013 Issue

AbeBooks Announces Most Expensive Book Sales for 2012

Abecasinoroy

The first of the highly collectible James Bond books.

AbeBooks recently released their list of the top prices paid on their site in 2012. AbeBooks is the largest of the old and used book listing sites, their total sales not revealed, but clearly in the many millions annually. Well over 100 million books are listed on the AbeBooks sites around the world.

Most of the books listed on Abe are inexpensive, undoubtedly meant as reading copies. However, the site also offers a rare book room, and over the years, the prices achieved on these collectible works has been steadily moving up. The top priced items are probably at a level no one would have expected when Abe first burst on the scene in the 1990s. While the top priced item was a little below last year's chart topping $51,739, by the time you get to #10, the price was over 50% higher than last year's tenth highest price. That is a sign that the amount of money people are willing to pay through an online listing site is continuing to move up.

What is perhaps most noticeable about this list is that although Abe is a North American site, the list is dominated by European titles. Perhaps Europeans are a bit more willing to buy high-priced books online. Here are the top 10 highest prices paid for books on the AbeBooks website in 2012.

10. Les Ruines de les Plus Beaux Monuments de la Grece, by Julien David LeRoy. This is a 1770 second edition of the French architect and archeologist's book about the ancient ruins and monuments of Greece. $23,530.


9. Cosmographia, by Petrus Apianus. This is a 1551 edition of Peter Apianus' work of geography, astronomy, navigation and more, first published in 1524. $23,681.


8. Livre d'Heures (Book of Hours), a mid 16th century version printed on parchment  once owned by Etienne de Poncher, Archbishop of Tours. $24,680.


5-7. A Polyglot Bible, from 1599-1602, edited by Elisa Hutter. It was the first polyglot bible in which English was one of the languages used. $25,000.


5-7. Little Women, a first edition of Louisa May Alcott's classic. $25,000.


5-7. Where the Wild Things Are, a first edition of Maurice Sendak's most popular of his many favorite children's books. $25,000.


4. A Latin Bible, the so-called “poor man's bible” as it was the first published in the smaller octavo size (1491). $26,200.


3. Die Verwandlung (the Metamorphosis), a first edition (1915) of Franz Kafka's short novel. $30,000.


2. Casino Royale, a signed first edition of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, published in 1953. The Bond novels have become eminently collectible in recent years. $46,453.


1. Uranometria, Omnium Asterismorum Continens Schemata, by Johann Bayer. A 1603 first edition of this astronomical history. $47,729.


For AbeBooks complete top 25, plus the top selling books in various categories, click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Maitres Affiches by MUCHA - Papier a cigarettes Job. 202. $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> De Bry - Map of the West Indies (including Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Parts of Central & South America, Sea Monsters, Ships). $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gould - Short-billed Toucan (Ramphastos Brevicarinatus). $5,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Redoute, Folio - Pale Iris - Iris flavescens. 375. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gillray - Light Expelling Darkness or The Sun of the Constitution. $200 to $500.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gerard - Wild Hemp or Weed, Cannabis. 708. $150 to $450.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Shaw & Nodder - Head of The Dodo. 165. $100 to $300.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions