AbeBooks has released its latest quarterly list of the Top 20 or so books that brought in the highest prices on their website. These are actual sales, not asking prices. Sometimes, these lists are dominated by particular types of books. Not this time. The types of books are diverse and if this list reveals something about the direction of collecting interests, it does not reveal it to me. We will leave it to the reader to detect a pattern. Here it is.
17 (tie). Barack Obama printed manuscript with hand corrections. Obama was writing an editorial concerning lobbyists, special interest groups, and campaign financing in 2007, a year before his election as President. A lot has changed since he was President. $7,500.
17 (tie). The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, by Frederick Engels & Florence Wischnewetzky. In a word, it was tough. $7,500.
17 (tie). The Natural History of North Carolina by John Brickell, printed in Dublin in 1737. Brickell spent six years in the colony as one of its first doctors. $7,500.
17 (tie). Book collection belonging to Carolyn D. Wright. Carolyn Wright was an American poet who died in 2016. It includes numerous modern first editions. $7,500.
17 (tie). Dracula by Bam Stoker. May I kiss you on the neck? $7,500.
17 (tie). Mechanismus der menschlichen Sprache nebst Beschreibung seiner sprechenden Maschine, by Wolfgang von Kempelen. What else is there to say? $7,500.
16. Sumo by Helmut Newton. A 1999 book of Newton's fashion photography that is a regular AbeBooks top seller. $7,637.
15, L'Oaristys by Theocrite. An 1896 French edition of this 3rd century Greek poet's work with illustrations by Georges Bellanger. $8,136.
14. Works of Virgil. A more modern poet (1st century BC). This is a 1529 French edition with 205 woodcuts. $8,164.
13. An Explanation of the Observed Irregularities in the Motion of Uranus on the Hypothesis of Disturbances Caused by a More Distant Planet, by John Couch Adams, published in 1846. The more distant planet proved to be the discovery of Neptune. $8,407.
11 (tie). Aspen Magazine numbers 1-10. A complete run of this 1960s art and culture magazine published in Aspen, Colorado. $8,500.
11 (tie). The Holy Bible, translated by Julia E. Smith, an 1876 American edition. This was the first translation of the Bible by a woman. $8,500.
10. Sumo by Helmut Newton. Once again. Comes with its own book stand. $8,525.
9. Nobiliario Genealógico de los Reyes y Títulos de España, by Alonso Lopez de Haro. A 1622 book about the bloodlines of Spanish royalty and aristocracy. $8,973.
7 (tie). The Wood Beyond the World, by William Morris. One of 350 copies of the 1894 first edition of this fantasy novel famous for its wood engravings from Morris' legendary Kelmscott Press. $9,000.
7 (tie). The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle. The George Newnes 1902 first edition with a laid in letter by Doyle. $9,000.
6. Canto General, by Pablo Neruda. Signed 1950 limited first edition by the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet. $9,200.
5. We Seven by "The Astronauts Themselves." This is a 1962 book written and signed by America's original astronauts, the Mercury Seven. Those "astronauts themselves" were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. Each contributed at least three essays. $12,000.
4. Sanctuary, by William Faulkner. A 1931 first edition with a laid-in author signature. $12,500.
3. Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, by Denis Diderot & Jean le Rond d'Alembert. Lighting up the Enlightenment. Generally known simply as the Encyclopédie, published in 17 volumes 1751-1772, this was not only an encyclopedia but an advocate for intellectual and democratic institutions. $16,868.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Move over, Faulkner. One good southern author deserves another. This is a 1960 signed first edition. $17,000.
1. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, published in 1953. James Bond just killed the mockingbird. He finishes number 1. $19,600.