Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2016 Issue

Here are the Top Ten Prices Paid on AbeBooks During the Past Three Months

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Your worst nightmare – Hooke's grotesquely enlarged flea from Micrographia.

AbeBooks has released its list of the top 10 most expensive items sold on their site for the second quarter of 2016. These lists give us an anecdotal but interesting look at what is selling for the highest prices online in the books and paper field. One trend confirmed by the list is that booksellers are offering, and collectors buying, an increasing number of items in the related paper fields these days, rather than just books alone. In a look back and forward last month, AbeBooks' PR & Publicity Manager Richard Davies pointed out that the site, once exclusively the province of books, has expanded to other forms of paper, in response to customer interest (click here). Looking at this list, he noted, "It’s interesting to see that non-book items are commanding high prices."

 

Indeed, while most of the top prices are for books, the list includes some original artwork, prints, photographs, and a personal letter from Winston Churchill. That may be the most intriguing of the items, as it is a love letter to a lady who rejected his proposal for marriage, a response only the inimitable Mr. Churchill could have written. We will get to that shortly, but here now, in reverse order, are the top 10 sales, all 13 of them!

 

10. Travels through the Southern Provinces of the Russian Empire, in the Years 1793 and 1794, by Peter Simon Pallas. First English edition (1802) of Pallas' description of his journey through southern Russia and what he saw. $7,800.

 

9 (tie). Magnes Sive De Arte Magnetica Opus Tripartitum, by Athanasius Kircher. A 1654 edition of Kircher's treatise on magnetism. $8,500.

 

9 (tie). Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volumes I & II, by Julia Child, Simone Beck & Louisette Bertholle. No one ever taught Americans more about French cooking than Julia Child. She signed this copy with her signature remark, "Bon Appetite!" $8,500.

 

9 (tie). Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. The conservatives' inspiration has signed this copy. $8,500.

 

8. Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made By Magnifying Glasses, by Robert Hooke. Published in 1665, Hooke took the first look through a very powerful microscope and drew what no one had ever seen before. $9,000.

 

7 (tie). Collection of Theodore Roosevelt Photographs from Underwood & Underwood. The progressives' inspiration is seen at work, play, and war from 1898-1909. $9,500.

 

7 (tie). Capitalism and Freedom, by Milton Friedman. Back to one for the conservatives, a signed first edition of the case for less government intervention in the economy. Is this a presidential election year? $9,500.

 

6. Lorsch Gospels Facsimile Edition. The original was produced from 778-820, but this facsimile is from 2000. Nevertheless, it captures the beauty and detail of the hand-produced original. $10,726.

 

5. Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne. This first edition is signed by Milne on the official bookplate, and inscribed on the opposite page by illustrator Ernest Shepherd. $11,851.

 

4. Here is the letter from Winston Churchill, written to Muriel Wilson, heiress to a shipping fortune and according to at least one contemporary American source, "Great Britain's most beautiful girl." They had been friends for years when Churchill proposed marriage. She declined. She apparently thought his prospects limited, his devotion to politics insufferable. He figured she would change her mind. "You are not certain in your own mind," he writes. "Don't slam the door. I can wait - perhaps I shall improve with waiting. Why shouldn't you care about me someday?" Churchill was logical, if not terribly romantic. In what must be a classically misguided way to ease Miss Wilson's disinterest in his serious politics, he continues, "Let me see you again before Monday. I will try to talk trivialities." He next attempts to reassure her he will change his priorities: "...you may be perfectly certain that I am not going to change or try to change. On the contrary... I am not going to be thrust back into my grey world of politics without a struggle." Sure he would have dropped out of the limelight and spent the rest of his life puttering around the estate. Muriel knew better. Churchill then signs off affectionately, "Yours always - Winston S.C." In time, Muriel Wilson married an army officer and three years later Churchill married Clementine Hozier. Clementine was obviously better equipped to cope with the quirks of his personality as they stayed married the remaining 57 years of Churchill's life. And, Winston and Muriel, and Clementine too, would all be friends for the rest of their lives. $12,500.

 

3. Troilus and Criseyde, by Geoffrey Chaucer. This book was published over 500 years after Chaucer died, but he undoubtedly would have approved as it was a fine press edition from the notable Golden Cockerel Press. $14,136.

 

2. Joan Miró Lithographs, reproductions of works by the famed artist, created from 1948-1950. $14,376.

 

1. What could be more worthy of the top spot than original artwork from the beloved children's writer Dr. Seuss? This is a drawing of Sam I am, rushing off with a plate of green eggs and ham balanced on his fingertips. $17,832.


Posted On: 2016-08-01 13:52
User Name: arnet1

Really enjoy all your columns.
Tiniest quibbles only.
If Julia Child and E.H. Shepard inscriptions actually appear as written here, they would be forgeries.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini. June 27</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> KENNEDY ONASSIS, JACQUELINE Typed letter signed to Oleg Cassini. $400 to $600
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> [CASSINI-KENNEDY FASHIONS] Important archives related to the development of fashions for Mrs. Kennedy… $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> [CASSINI-KENNEDY FASHIONS] Detailed ledger of the Kennedy White House years… $500 to $800
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> KELLY, GRACE. Four autograph letters to Oleg Cassini. $5,000 to $8,000
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini. June 27</b>
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> CASSINI, OLEG. Group of Kennedy-era original fashion sketches. $1,000 to $1,500
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> KENNEDY ONASSIS, JACQUELINE. Autograph letter signed to Oleg Cassini. $800 to $1,200
    <b>Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini:</b> CASSINI, OLEG. Fashion sketch titled “Mrs. Kennedy-Palais de Versailles-State Dinner.” $800 to $1,200
    Doyle, The Estate of Oleg Cassini: [CASSINI, OLEG - KENNEDY, JACQUELINE.] Group of approximately 130 original fashion designs… $800 to $1,200.
  • <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger, <i>La Fin du monde filmée par l’ange N.-D.,</i> Paris, Editions de la Sirène, 1919
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> André Breton, <i>Second manifeste du Surréalisme,</i> Paris, Editions Kra, 1930
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Paul Eluard and Pablo Picasso, <i>La Barre d’appui,</i> Paris, Editions « Cahiers d’Art », 1936
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Blaise Cendrars and Fernand Léger, <i>La Fin du monde filmée par l’ange N.-D.,</i> Paris, Editions de la Sirène, 1919
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Hans Bellmer, <i>Die Puppe,</i> Paris, G.L.M., 1936
    <b>Christie’s Paris:</b> Salvador Dali, <i>La femme visible,</i> Paris, Editions Surréalistes, 1930
  • <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Pushkin, Alexander. <i>Evgenii Onegin. A novel in verse.</i> A first edition of the most important work in Russian literature in its original parts, 1825–32. £120,000 to £160,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Gogol, Nikolai. <i>Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka.</i> A rare first edition of Gogol's first masterpiece, 1831–32. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Darwin, Charles Robert. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.</i> First edition, owned and read by two contemporaries of Darwin. London: John Murray, 1859. £140,000 to £200,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Galilei, Galileo. <i>Sidereus Nuncius.</i> First edition, announcing the first astronomical discoveries made with the telescope. Venice: Tommaso Baglioni, [March] 1610. £300,000 to £500,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> The seal of Wulfric. England, first half 11th century. £70,000 to £100,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Bible, <i>Ezechiel</i> in Latin. [Northern Italy, 5th century]. £120,000 to £180,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Blaeu, Jan and Willem Blaeu. <i>Grooten Atlas [Atlas Major]</i>. Amsterdam: Johannes Blaeu, 1664. £450,000 to £650,000
    <b>Christie’s London, Jul. 9:</b> Petites Heures of Charles VIII use of Paris, in Latin. An exquisite Hours illuminated by the Master of the Chronique Scandaleuse. [Paris, 1490s]. £300,000 to £500,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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