Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2017 Issue

AbeBooks' New Top 10 Highest Prices Range from the Classics to the Strange

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Dali's interpretation of one of the fantastic creatures from Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel.

AbeBooks has released their list of the Top 10 highest prices reached on their site for the third quarter of 2017, July-September. We find books noted for their content, others for their illustrations, and a couple of personal compilations. Among the latter is a very strange typescript collection of erotic works, some written especially for the Oklahoma oilman who commissioned them. It's what happens when you combine odd tastes with too much money. Speaking of strange, two books on the list feature the unusual artwork of Salvadore Dali. Here is Abe's most recent Top 10 list.

 

10. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin. The scarce 1813 second edition of this Austen classic. $7,821.

 

9. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. A signed 1960 first edition. $8,500.

 

8. Leviathan, or, the Matter, Form, and Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil, by Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes writes during the English Civil War (1651) for a social contract between government and the people, but under an all-powerful monarch. $8,577.

 

7. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This is hardly a first edition, its 1969 date over a century later. However, it is the edition illustrated by Salvadore Dali, with original woodcuts and an etching. $8,800.

 

6. A Collection of 1,200 typescript pages consisting of 82 original and classic erotic stories, poems, songs and jokes compiled by an Oklahoma oilman. This one needs some explanation. Roy Melisander Johnson, who lived from 1881-1960, had an insatiable need for written erotica. Since there evidently was not enough available in print, he hired agents to find writers to produce original stories of "romanceless erotica" for him. While most items are not attributed, some of those believed to have contributed include Henry Miller, Anais Nin, and painter Robert DeNiro, Sr. (father of the actor). $9,500.

 

5. A Collection of Letters from Hubert Lyautey to his editor Max Leclerc. Lyautey was French Resident-General of Morocco from 1912-1925, nicknamed the "Maker of Morocco," who appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1931 as an "empire builder." $9,659.

 

3 (tie). A Discourse and Discovery of Newfoundland, by Richard Whitbourne. Known as the "Father of Newfoundland," Whitbourne first traveled there in 1579 to hunt whales and trade with the natives. He became an enthusiastic advocate of colonization. This is a revised second edition from 1622. $10,000.

 

3. (tie). Oxford Night Caps Being a Collection of Receipts for Making Various Beverages Used in The University, by Richard Cook. This sounds like a lot of money for a cocktail book, but AbeBooks explains, it is "a pioneering book for all drinkers and bartenders. First printing of the first known cocktail book to be published in the English language from 1827." Just 38 pages, it was prepared to help Oxford students with their social life. $10,000.

 

2. The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham. The 1951 first UK edition of the science fiction thriller about killer plants, inscribed by the author. Eat your vegetables before they eat you. $13,844.

 

1. Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, by Salvadore Dali. This is a collection of 25 images adapted by Dali in 1973 from the Songs of Pantagruel, published in 1565. The original consisted of 120 images of grotesque semi-human creatures. It was published by Richard Breton under the name of Francois Rabelais, author of Gargantua and Pantagruel, but it is unlikely Rabelais had much to do with this book since he died a dozen years earlier. $16,840.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. SOLD for $131,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. SOLD for $516,500
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. SOLD for $106,250
    <b>Bonhams: Results from Fine Books and Manuscripts on March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. SOLD for $16,250
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. SOLD for $275,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. SOLD for $118,750
  • <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> E.H. SHEPARD, Original drawing for A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner.<br>$40,000-60,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> BERNARD RATZER, Plan of the City of New York in North America, surveyed in the years 1766 & 1767. $80,000-100,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> THOMAS JEFFERSON, Autograph letter signed comparing Logan, Tecumseh, and Little Turtle to the Spartans. Monticello: 15 February 1821. $14,000-18,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN C. FREMONT, Narrative of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, in the Year 1842.. Abridged edition, the only one containing the folding map From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $3,000-5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ZANE GREY, Album containing 94 large format photographs of Grey and party at Catalina Island, Arizona, and fishing in the Pacific. From the Sporting Library of Arnold “Jake” Johnson. $5,000-$8,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> WILLIAM COMBE, A History of Madeira ... illustrative of the Costumes, Manners, and Occupations of the Inhabitants. produced by Ackermann in 1821; From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> ERIC TAVERNER, Salmon Fishing... One of 275 copies signed by Taverner, published in 1931,From the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN WHITEHEAD, Exploration of Mount Kina Balu, North Borneo. Whitehead reached the high point of Kinabalu in 1888. Part of a major group of travel books from the Sporting Library of Jake Johnson. $2,000-$3,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> JOHN LONG, Voyages and Travels of an Indian Interpreter and Trader, describing the Manners and Customs of the North American Indians... The first edition of 1791. $3,000-$5,000
    <b>Doyle, April 25:</b> SAMUEL BECKETT, Stirrings Still. This, Beckett’s last work of fiction with original lithographs by Le Brocquy, limited to 200 copies signed by the author and the artist. From the Estate of Howard Kaminsky.. $1,500-$2,500
  • <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>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, wallpaper sample book, circa 1919. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Archive from a late office of the Breuer & Smith architectural team, New York, 1960-70s. $3,500 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> William Morris, <i>The Story of the Glittering Plain or the Land of Living Men,</i> illustrated by Walter Crane, Kelmscott Press, Hammersmith, 1894. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustave Doré, <i>La Sainte Bible selon la Vulgate,</i> Tours, 1866. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Gustav Klimt & Max Eisler, <i>Eine Nachlese,</i> complete set, Vienna, 1931. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>Eric Allatini & Gerda Wegener, <i>Sur Talons Rouges,</i> with original watercolor by Wegener, Paris, 1929. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>C.P. Cavafy, <i>Fourteen Poems,</i> illustrated & signed by David Hockney, London, 1966. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b> Jean Midolle, <i>Spécimen des Écritures Modernes...</i>, Strasbourg, 1834-35. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 26:</b><br>E.A. Seguy, <i>Floréal: Dessins & Coloris Nouveaux,</i> Paris, 1925. $3,000 to $4,000.

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