Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2018 Issue

AbeBooks Top 10 Most Expensive Items for the Third Quarter of 2018


Vasarely zebras from Descartes' Discours de la Méthod.

AbeBooks has released the list of their ten most expensive sales for the third quarter of 2018, July-September. It ranges from a couple of the great 17th century philosophers to some of the most popular writers of the 20th century. There are a few other stops along the way. Most notably, the list includes the most expensive item sold on the AbeBooks site since 2015. Here is the list.


10. The Birds of America by John James Audubon. This isn't a first edition, as it does not rise to seven or eight figures, nor even a first octavo as it isn't pushing six. However, this 1870 edition contains 500 plates across seven volumes, and came with a copy of his Quadrupeds of North America containing 106 of 155 plates. $13,500.


9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. A 1925 first edition, first printing, with a third state dust jacket, not in the greatest shape, but at least still present. $14,500.


8. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. This is a complete first edition in excellent shape. $16,000.


7. A collection of notebooks by Max Newman. Newman was a British mathematician who was a pioneer in the field of electronic computing. $19,700.


6. A collection of Beethoven string quartets. It consists of sheet music in first and early editions, beginning in 1798. $20,350.


4. (tie) The Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions in North and South America by Thomas Jefferys. This is a 1760 first edition, and it is a good thing Jefferys didn't wait any longer to publish as two years later, with the conclusion of the French and Indian War, there were no more French dominions in North America. $24,000.


4. (tie) The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Seven volumes of first British editions, published 1950-1956. This may not be as important a book as the other one tied for #4, but it is certainly a lot more read. $24,000.


3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. A signed first edition of Rand's final and most successful novel. $28,000.


2. Discours de la Méthode by René Descartes. He thought, and so he was. This book by one of the greatest thinkers of his time was first published in 1637, but this is a 20th century edition, noted more for the Op Art drawings by Victor Vasarely. It is one of 15 copies reserved for and signed by the artist. $32,500.


1. Discorsi e Dimostrazioni Matematiche by Galileo. Written by a brilliant contemporary of Descartes and published in 1638, this is one of the greatest science books, considered by some the first physics textbook. $82,500.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Rare JFK Signed Check & Transmittal Letter During Campaign for 1956 VP Nomination, Both BAS Slabbed; Possibly A Unique Combo!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Daniel Boone Signed Receipt as VA Delegate; During His 1st of 3 Terms, Boone Was Kidnapped by British Forces Gunning for Gov. T. Jefferson & Other Legislators.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> G.A. Custer ALS from Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory to Capt. Yates, Who Also Died at Little Bighorn, Re: Acquiring “good horses” from Kentucky for 7th Cavalry.
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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