AE Top 500 at Auction for 2008!
2. This was Andre Breton's year, with the second highest price going for his 1924 manuscript used to publish the Manifesto of Surrealism. $2,847,801.
1. Abraham Lincoln's signed response to the "Little People's Petition," wherein the President in 1864 responded to a letter from some schoolchildren requesting he free all of the slaves. Lincoln responds that while he does not have the power to do all they request, that God does, and that it now appears He wills it. $3,401,000.
You may find the complete AE Top 500 by clicking this link.
A Note on Making the Cut: What makes it into the Top 500 books and related ephemera list is not always as easy as looking at the price. A book of literature or history is easy to classify. How about a book of art? If it is clearly a "book" (whatever that may mean), that is one thing, but how about a portfolio of prints? What if the prints are bound together but without text? What if it is a single original illustration, but that image was used as an illustration in a book?
We have attempted to separate books from art, "art" being a separate field, and one where prices are in a totally different stratosphere. Mothers, teach your children to be artists, not writers. We have included original artwork for books, so you will find drawings created for Winnie-The-Pooh. Albrecht Durer engravings make the grade for his major role in early book illustration. However, Andy Warhol does not make the cut, which is just as well as there would be little room for anyone else if all of his prints that sold for big bucks were included. The same is true of Picasso's images which look like his press was out of register. Collections of photographs are let in where the interest is historic, while those that are more artistic, such as Irving Penn or even Ansel Adams, are not.
So, here is an example of what we left out that you might have included: Les Jeux de la Poupee (Doll Games), by Hans Bellmer. This 1949 "book" contains 15 hand-colored prints of Bellmer photographs. Bellmer made dolls which he then photographed. As the lot note explains, "Hans Bellmer is best known for his erotic photographs of life-size pre-pubescent female dolls." Bellmer wrote, "It was worth all my obsessive efforts when, amid the smell of glue and wet plaster, the essence of all that is impressive would take shape and become a real object to be possessed." The description continues, "The Doll's exaggerated pudenda and limbs, which could be disassembled and rearranged due to the ball-joints, speak to the intensity of his artistic endeavor and chilling fetishization of the female form. This Doll seamlessly integrates Bellmer's artistic exploration in a series of fifteen photographs that are childlike and brutal, sexual and intimate. Presented in book-form, these images acquire a peep-show quality..." Okay, this may be in "book-form," but wouldn't you agree it is really an object d'art, or perhaps de weird? By the way, for those who don't know the word "pudenda," it is defined as "vulvo," which is not a Swedish automobile but female sexual organs.
Bellmer's "book" sold for $96,000, which would have placed it at #207. In fact, if we included Bellmer, he would have had five items on the list, far more than Shakespeare or Twain, Washington or Lincoln (though nowhere in the neighborhood of Warhol or Lichtenstein). Would this really be a book list? This one was actually a bargain basement piece for Bellmer, for whom a single print of one of his "unsettling" doll photographs sold for $325,000 (it would have ranked #27). What is more "unsetting" than Bellmer's pedophilic doll photographs are the prices people pay for them! We have saved him for the Art 500, instead of the Book 500. Sorry, Hans.