Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2018 Issue

AbeBook Lists Their Top 10 Most Expensive Items for 2017

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Salvador Dali's even weirder take on Rabelais' images.

"I am" seem to be the magic words for the AbeBooks annual Top 10. Last year, it was "Sam I am," this year "I think, therefore I am." Who knew Dr. Seuss and Rene Descartes had so much in common? We don't know how many books are sold on AbeBooks' website each year, but it is many millions. Most are inexpensive, reading or studying copies. However, some of what you will find there are collectible, expensive volumes, for a following of serious book and paper collectors who inhabit their virtual stores. Here are what the most serious, or at least those with the largest budgets, bought last year. These are the ten highest prices reached among the millions of books sold on the AbeBooks website during 2017.

 

10. Principia Philosophiae + Specimina Philosophiae, by Rene Descartes. First edition of Descartes' major work on physics and philosophy. Source of the the familiar quote, "I think, therefore I am." $14,535.

 

9. Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J. R. R. Tolkien. First editions of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. $14,546.

 

8. Ueber die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde. Ein philosophische Abhandlung, by Arthur Schopenhauer. This translates to "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. A Philosophical Dissertation," which probably doesn't tell English speakers much more than does the title in German. Schopenhauer in the years ahead developed many followers, but when this first edition was printed in 1813 in just 500 copies, most still had to be trashed for want of sales. $15,000.

 

7. Quadragesimale Aureum, by Leonardo de Utino. Forty-two sermons by de Utino, but the book is probably more notable for its early date than its sermons – 1471. $16,016.

 

6. Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, by Salvador Dali. This is Dali's 1973 adaptation of Francois Rabelais' illustrations of seriously grotesque monsters from his 1565 book. $16,840.

 

5. Les Passions de l'Ame, by Rene Descartes. Descartes is back again, this time looking at the connection between the soul and body. $17,500.

 

4. Speculum Historiale, by Vincent of Beauvais. There are not so many titles in English this year. This was something of an encyclopedia for its time, the thirteenth century. That was when it was written by Dominican Friar Vincent of Beauvais, but this edition was published in 1473. $18,900.

 

3. A Voyage Round Great Britain, Undertaken in the Summer of the Year 1813, and Commencing from the Land's-End, Cornwall, by Richard Ayton & William Daniell. Eight volume work, noted for its engravings of the British coastline. $19,300.

 

2. Warhol vs Basquiat Paintings Exhibition Poster. Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat are dressed and gloved as boxers preparing for a fight. However, what was really happening is they were promoting a joint exhibition by the painters who collaborated in 1984-85, in time for this fall 1985 exhibition in New York. The poster is signed by both artists. $20,700.

 

1. Nine Stories, by J. D. Salinger. Little Brown & Company's only file copy of Salinger's second work, with a penciled word count calculation. This was before there were computer word counters. Someone must have done this by hand (or eye). For the record, it says 61,823. $22,500.

 

The complete AbeBooks Top 20 for 2017 and more can be found at this link: www.abebooks.com/collectibles/most-expensive-sales/2017/.

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>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Sergio Trujillo Magnenat, <i>Bogotá 1938 / IV Centenario / Juegos Deportivos Bolivarianos,</i> 1938. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>McQueen Drives Porsche,</i> designer unknown, 1970. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>Joe Bridge, <i>Bignan / A Des Ailes,</i> 1921. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Graham Simmons, <i>The Army Isn’t All Work,</i> 1919. $1,000 to $1,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Je ne fume que le nil,</i> 1912. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> <i>Attack of the 50 ft. Woman,</i> designer unknown, 1958. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Raymond Tooby, <i>Festival Guiness / Have You Tried One Yet?,</i> 1952. $600 to $900.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> Francisco Tamagno, <i>Terrot & Co. / Dijon / Cycles Motorettes,</i> 1909. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b><br>A. Hori, Oakland / General Motors, circa 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 7:</b> James Montgomery Flagg, <i>Travel? Adventure? Answer – Join the Marines!,</i> circa 1918. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Roberts, David. Twenty Lithographs of the Holy Land, 19th Century. $2,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Declaration by the Reps. of the United Colonies of N.A. 1775. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Composer Jerome Kern personal Letters, Albums and Other. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Paine, Thomas. <i>Common Sense,</i> London 1776. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Stowe, Harriet Beecher. <i>Uncle Tom’s Cabin,</i> Cleveland 1852. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Hobbes, Thomas. <i>Leviathan,</i> 3rd edition, London 1651. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Anno Regni Georgii III. Intolerable Acts and other Bills, 1774. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Wilberforce, William. An Abstract of the Evidence, 5 Letters, and two books. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Nightingale, Florence. Notes on Nursing and Signed Letters, ca. 1860 $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Tolstov, Leo. <i>War and Peace,</i> 5 volumes, 1886. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Dickinson, John. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, 1768. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Lark Mason Associates, Aug 8-27:</b> Twain, Mark. <i>Tom Sawyer,</i> 1877 [and] <i>Huckleberry Finn,</i> 1885. $4,000 to $6,000.

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