• <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> [MAGGIOLO, Vesconte] <i>Carta nautica manoscritta, bottega di Vesconte Maggiolo.</i> Italy, c.1550. Previously unknown extraordinary portolan chart. €50,000 to 80,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b><br>LA PÉROUSE, Jean-François. <i>Voyage de la Pérouse autour du monde.</i> Paris: L'Imprimerie de la République, 1797. €6,000 to 9,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> PEREA Y ROJAS, Daniel. The preparatory watercolours to the renown album <i>A Los Toros.</i> €4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> MELA, Pomponio. <i>Cosmographia, sive De situ orbis.</i> Venice, 1478 [Bound with] DIONISIO il Periegeta. <i> De situ orbis…</i> Venice, 1478. €6,000 to 9,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> DE FELICE, Fortunato Bartolomeo. <i>Encyclopedie, ou dictionnaire universel raisonne des connoissances humaines.</i> Yverdon, 1770-1780. €4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> VECELLIO, Cesare. <i>De gli habiti antichi et moderni di diverse parti del mondo.</i> Venice: Damian Zenaro, 1590. €3,000 to 5,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> FALDA, Giovanni Battista; SPECCHI, Alessandro. <i>Il nuovo teatro delle fabriche…</i> [bound with] <i>ll quarto libro del nuovo teatro delli palazzi in prospettiva di Roma moderna.</i> 1665-1699. €4,000 to 6,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> FALDA Giovan Battista. <i>Le fontane di Roma nelle piazze e luoghi pubblici della citta - Le fontane delle ville di Frascati nel Tusculano…</i> Rome, [1691]. €2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> FERRERIO, Pietro & Giovanni Battista FALDA. <i> Palazzi di Roma de piu celebri architetti disegnati… [1655 – 1677]. €2,500 to 3,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste: Books and Manuscripts. January 22, 2019</b>
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> VON JACQUIN, Joseph Franz. <i>Eclogae graminum rariorum.</i> Vienna: Strauss Sommer, 1813-1844. €2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> Prayer book according to the synagogical Ashkenazy rite in an elegant and precious silver binding. €3,000 to 5,000
    <b>Il Ponte Casa d’Aste, Jan 22:</b> BOCCACCIO, Giovanni. <i>Ameto.</i> Venice: Nicolo Zoppino, 1524. €3,000 to 5,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Leonard Baskin, <i>Diptera: A Book of Flies & Other Insects,</i> Gehenna Press, 1983. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georg Heym, <i>Umbra Vitae,</i> illustrated by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, first edition, Munich, 1924. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Edgar Allan Poe, <i>The Raven,</i> special copy for illustrator Alan James Robinson, first book from Cheloniidae Press, 1980. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b><br>W.B. Yeats, <i>Poems,</i> illustrated by Richard Diebenkorn, accompanied by a suite of 6 etchings, 1990. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georges Rouault, <i>Cirque de l’Étoile Filante,</i> Paris, 1938. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> François-Louis Schmied, <i>Le Cantique des Cantiques,</i> Paris, 1925. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Frank Lloyd Wright, <i>Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe,</i> Berlin, Ernst Wasmuth, 1910. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Hans Bellmer & Georges Hugnet, <i>Oeillades ciselées en branch,</i> Paris, 1939. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Wassily Kandinsky, <i>Klänge,</i> first edition, Munich, 1913. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Charles Dickens, <i>The Nonesuch Dickens,</i> limited edition, 1937-38. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Rudyard Kipling, <i>Le Livre de la Jungle,</i> plates by Paul Jouve, engraved by F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1919. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Jan 29:</b> Georges Lepape, <i>Les Choses de Paul Poiret,</i> Paris, 1911. $3,500 to $5,000.
  • <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Kingsborough, Edward King. <i>Antiquities of Mexico: Comprising Facsimiles of Ancient Mexican Paintings and Hieroglyphics…</i> London, 1831-1848. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Paul Revere. <i>The Bloody Massacre perpetrated In King-Street Boston on March 5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Reg. Boston, 1770.</i> $150,000 to $200,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Battle of the Alamo. <i>Suplemento al Diario del Gobierno de la Republica Mexicana.</i> (Núm. 326. Tom. IV.). Mexico City: Imprenta del Aguila, Dirigida por José Ximeno, 1836. $6,000 to $8,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> The Declaration of Independence. The first book-form printing of the Declaration of Independence. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Treaty of Paris, Ratification. By the United States in Congress Assembled, A Proclamation … Annapolis, [Ca. 16-17 January 1784]. $800,000 to $1,200,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Declaration of Independence. The only known privately held copy of the celebrated William J. Stone facsimile for which provenance can be traced back to a direct ancestor who received it in 1824. $600,000 to $800,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Crockett, David. Autograph letter signed ("David Crockett") to George Patton, announcing his intention to travel to Texas. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Wytfliet, Cornelius. <i>Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum, Sive Occidentalis Notitia Brevi Commentario Illustrata.</i> Leuven: Johannes Bogaerts 1597. $35,000 to $50,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Schedel, Hartmann. <i>Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus.</i> Nuremberg, Anton Koberger for Sebald Schreyer and Sebastian Kammermeister, 12 July 1493. $70,000 to $100,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> New York Mets. Baseball from the first victory of the New York Mets. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Sotheby’s NY, Jan 24:</b> Robert E. Lee. Autograph letter signed ("R E Lee") as Confederate commander, to Rabbi Max Michelbacher, declining to furlough Jewish Confederate troops for the high holy days. $150,000 to $250,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2019 Issue

The Rare Book Hub Top 500 Sales at Auction for 2018. Prices Were Up at the Top

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Are you out of your mind? (Heritage Auctions photo).

With another year under our belts, it's time to look back at the Top 500 prices paid at auction in the books and paper field (see end of this article for an explanation). At the top end, 2018 was a very good year. Prices rebounded sharply from 2017's softness. The top price paid in 2017 was $1.8 million for an early printing of the Declaration of Independence. This year's highest price was over five times that amount. Six items sold for more in 2018 than did anything in 2017. Nine items exceeded $1 million in price, compared to five the previous year.

 

Perhaps more telling is the price paid for the 500th most expensive item. In 2017, that price was $71,700. In 2018, it was $87,500, 22% higher. More money was being tossed around by the well heeled than in a long time.

 

The past few years we have seen comic books come to represent a significant portion of the Top 500. Think what you may, but they are books. This year, they have been joined in large numbers by baseball cards. Again, think what you may, but those are works on paper. Not a lot of paper, but they bring in a lot of money. I find it surprising. Comic books have become enormously popular. Witness the bizarre success of Comic-Con for validation. Baseball, however, seems to be a fading sport, and you need to be well along in age to remember even the youngest of these players when they were active (the newest was Nolan Ryan's rookie card). Football is more popular today, but football cards were limited to a single appearance by Joe Namath.

 

There was also a large shift in the most popular names by number of appearances. The past few years, cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Hergé, has ruled the roost. No more. After several years of double-digit appearances, Hergé managed just three this time. That puts him down with the lowly, such as Shakespeare and George Washington, who also managed but three appearances.

 

The man at the top is improbable. Are politics moving left or right, or just to the extremes? In the year of Trump, the leading number of appearances in the Top 500 went to Karl Marx. He showed up 13 times. There is something ironic about wealthy people spending their big bucks on books and manuscripts by Karl Marx.

 

Once again, the runner up was the Birdman of America, John James Audubon. Always a bridesmaid. Audubon made 11 appearances, good for a tie with the controversial (still) scientist Charles Darwin. The religious need not worry. The list also has many editions of the Bible and Books of Hours.

 

With 10 appearances comes the botanical equivalent of the zoological artist Audubon - roses, lilacs, and other flowers illustrator Pierre Redouté. Then, in a tie with eight, is the great English ornithological illustrator, John Gould. Gould is joined at eight by two physicists, the incomparable Albert Einstein, and the brilliant but still humorous Richard Feynman. Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman. Rounding out the group at eight was a man who was no Einstein, but he could hit a ball farther than Einstein, Feynman, and Gould combined - Mickey Mantle. Here come the baseball cards, though Mantle's listings included his first baseball contract. The seller of that contract made a lot more money off of it than Mantle did - $1,500 for Mickey, $102,000 for the former owner of the contract.

 

Here, now, are the Top 10 highest prices paid at auction in 2018. It will be followed by a link to the full Top 500.

 

10. Declaration of Independence. This is not a 1776 edition. It didn't come until 1823. However, it is highly valued as one of only 200 facsimiles authorized by Congress, prepared from the original document by William J. Stone (it is said the process he used faded the original). Nothing better replicated the original than this. $852,500.

 

9. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. This one actually was published in 1776, but it's about economics, not that dispute between Britain and its colonies. Adam Smith made economics a field of serious study. $1,154,112.

 

8. Declaration of Independence. The Declaration may not be #1 this year, but two appearances in the Top 10 isn't bad. This edition is from 1776. It is one of the very early printings, from July 17, in Salem, Massachusetts. Rather than printing them all in Philadelphia, the Declaration was printed locally for local distribution, which is why July 17 is actually a very early date. $1,185,000.

 

7. Du côté de chez Swann. One of the first five copies on Japanese paper of Marcel Proust's novel. Proust gave it to his close friend and fellow writer, Lucien Daudet. $1,722,968.

 

6. Working draft of the "Big Book." This is one of the bestselling and most influential books of the last century. Written by Bill Wilson, "Bill W.," it is the founding document of Alcoholics Anonymous, which saved the lives of so many alcoholics. It is filled with annotations from Wilson and his associates. $2,400,000.

 

5. Grandes Heures de Galeazzo Maria Sforza Livre d'Heures, a l'Usage de Rome. This is one of those magnificent illuminated manuscripts, a book of hours dating to the 1470s. From Milan. $2,563,600.

 

4. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Baseball Card. Seriously. The introduction to the description says it all: "It might be your wife. In fact, if you're married, it almost certainly will be. It might be your mother, or your children, or your friends at the country club, but you will, undoubtedly, be met with a single question after recording your winning seven-figure bid for this card. 'Are you out of your mind?!'" Despite the writer's later attempt to justify it (supply and demand, etc.), the answer is "yes." I love Mickey (Mickey who?), but this is ridiculous. $2,880,000.

 

3. The God Letter. A personal letter from Albert Einstein in the last year of his life, revealing most clearly his religious views. Writes Einstein (translated from German), "The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends." Einstein was impressed by the orderliness of the universe, but did not see that as the product of an anthropomorphic creator. $2,892,500.

 

2. Heures Petau Livre d'Heures a l'Usage de Rome. Another fabulous illuminated book of hours, this one from around 1495. From Tours. $4,976,400.

 

1. The Birds of America. The Duke of Portland's set of what has gathered several of the highest prices for a book ever paid at auction. Published in installments from 1827-1838, this is the massive double elephant folio first edition of John James Audubon's masterpiece. $9,650,000.

 

Here is a link to the full Top 500 for 2018.

 

*Note: Viewing the Top 500 list does not require signing in or being a member. Viewing individual lot descriptions requires being signed in at any membership level, including free. You can sign up for any membership level by clicking this link.

 

**This list includes all kinds of books, along with ephemeral "works on paper," such as pamphlets, broadsides, maps, manuscripts, and yes, baseball cards. Prints and photographs are also included, but only those more of a historic or informational nature, rather than primarily of artistic value. If artistic paper were included, the list would be dominated by the Andy Warhols and Robert Mapplethorpes, purveyors of art rather than information. At times it can be a fine line. Original artwork is included, but only if meant for a book (E. H. Shepard).

 

With hundreds of auction houses out there, we may have missed a few items. The same may be true of sales late in the year where results were not posted in time for this report. We apologize for any qualifying items missed.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000
  • <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Fine Illustrated Books. 50 illustrated works across a range of subjects.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Present Perfect. Books & works on paper including Literature, Children’s & Illustrated, Sports & Pastimes, Modern Prints and more.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> The House of Romanov, marking the centenary of the tragic demise of the Romanov dynasty.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> CHAGALL & GOGOL. Les âmes mortes, 1948. Chagall’s first major illustrated book.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> GUSTAV KLIMT, eine nachlese, 1931. An important early monograph on Klimt.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> ELLIOT. Birds of North America, 1866. One of 200 2 vols sets, folio.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> PURCHAS. His Pilgrimes/Pilgrimage, 1625-26. 5 vols. Probably the greatest collection of voyages ever published.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> HUXLEY. Brave New World, 1932. Exceptionally fine first edition.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> KELMSCOTT PRESS. Poems of Shakespeare, one of 500, publisher’s vellum.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> LEROUX. Phantom of the Opera, 1911. First UK edition in fine S&S binding.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> INDIANA, Robert. The American Dream, one of 30 AP copies, 30 screen prints.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> BENOIS. Tsarskoe Selo during the Reign of Elizaveta Petrovna, St Petersburg, 1910. Deluxe issue.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> CORONATION ALBUM. Description du sacre et du couronnement de leurs Majestés Impériales, 1883. One of 200.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> IMPERIAL FAMILY. Signed original photograph of Tsar Nicholas II’s 4 daughters.
    <b>Shapero Rare Books:</b> Souvenir du Couronnement de Leurs Majestés Imperiales a Moscou, 1896.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books & Works on Paper. January 23, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Rossini (Luigi, artist & engraver). <i>Le Antichità Romane, ossia Raccolta della piu interessanti Vedute di Roma Antica,</i> 89 plates. £2500 to £3500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Four original hand-painted propaganda posters, (550 x 770 mm.), North Korea, 2009. £1200 to £1800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Plinius Secundus (Gaius). <i>Historia Natural,</i> 2 vol, Spanish translation, woodcut arms of Philip IV of Spain, Madrid, 1624; 1629 £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Nasmyth (James) & Carpenter (James). <i>The Moon,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 24 plates, 1874. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Rare Books & Works on Paper. January 23, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> A group (12) of large size Chinese Cultural Revolution papercuts on red paper presented on white paper backing, featuring various slogans and images of General Mao. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Coronelli (V. M.). <i>Tran-Siselana,</i> copper engraved, hand-coloured, title cartouche with four winds and four monkeys, coat of arms, Venice, c.1692; and 8 others. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan 23:</b> Pouchkine (Alexandre). <i>Contes populaires Russes… traduits … par Alexandra de Holstein et René Ghil,</i> FIRST EDITION, n. 165 of an edition of 270 copies. £400 to £600

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