Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2017 Issue

AbeBooks' New Top 10 Highest Prices Range from the Classics to the Strange

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Dali's interpretation of one of the fantastic creatures from Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel.

AbeBooks has released their list of the Top 10 highest prices reached on their site for the third quarter of 2017, July-September. We find books noted for their content, others for their illustrations, and a couple of personal compilations. Among the latter is a very strange typescript collection of erotic works, some written especially for the Oklahoma oilman who commissioned them. It's what happens when you combine odd tastes with too much money. Speaking of strange, two books on the list feature the unusual artwork of Salvadore Dali. Here is Abe's most recent Top 10 list.

 

10. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin. The scarce 1813 second edition of this Austen classic. $7,821.

 

9. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. A signed 1960 first edition. $8,500.

 

8. Leviathan, or, the Matter, Form, and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, by Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes writes during the English Civil War (1651) for a social contract between government and the people, but under an all-powerful monarch. $8,577.

 

7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This is hardly a first edition, its 1969 date over a century later. However, it is the edition illustrated by Salvadore Dali, with original woodcuts and an etching. $8,800.

 

6. A Collection of 1,200 typescript pages consisting of 82 original and classic erotic stories, poems, songs and jokes compiled by an Oklahoma oilman. This one needs some explanation. Roy Melisander Johnson, who lived from 1881-1960, had an insatiable need for written erotica. Since there evidently was not enough available in print, he hired agents to find writers to produce original stories of "romanceless erotica" for him. While most items are not attributed, some of those believed to have contributed include Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and painter Robert DeNiro, Sr. (father of the actor). $9,500.

 

5. A Collection of Letters from Hubert Lyautey to his editor Max Leclerc. Lyautey was French Resident-General of Morocco from 1912-1925, nicknamed the "Maker of Morocco," who appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1931 as an "empire builder." $9,659.

 

3 (tie). A Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland, by Richard Whitbourne. Known as the "Father of Newfoundland," Whitbourne first traveled there in 1579 to hunt whales and trade with the natives. He became an enthusiastic advocate of colonization. This is a revised second edition from 1622. $10,000.

 

3. (tie). Oxford Night Caps Being a Collection of Receipts for Making Various Beverages Used in The University, by Richard Cook. This sounds like a lot of money for a cocktail book, but AbeBooks explains, it is "a pioneering book for all drinkers and bartenders. First printing of the first known cocktail book to be published in the English language from 1827." Just 38 pages, it was prepared to help Oxford students with their social life. $10,000.

 

2. The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham. The 1951 first UK edition of the science fiction thriller about killer plants, inscribed by the author. Eat your vegetables before they eat you. $13,844.

 

1. Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, by Salvadore Dali. This is a collection of 25 images adapted by Dali in 1973 from the Songs of Pantagruel, published in 1565. The original consisted of 120 images of grotesque semi-human creatures. It was published by Richard Breton under the name of Francois Rabelais, author of Gargantua and Pantagruel, but it is unlikely Rabelais had much to do with this book since he died a dozen years earlier. $16,840.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.

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