• <center><b>Chiswick Auctions</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Rumphius (Georgius Everhardus). <i>D’Ambionsche Rariteitkamer,</i> FIRST EDITION, 61 handcoloured engraved plates, 1705. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Collodi (Carlo) Le avventure di Pinocchio. <i>Storia di un burattino,</i> FIRST EDITION, frontispiece and 61 illustrations by Enrico Mazzanti, 1883. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> De Bry (T, J T & J I). <i>[Great Voyages, part IV] Americae sive Insignis & Admiranda Historia de Reperta primum Occidentali India,</i> FIRST EDITION, 23 engraved plates, 1594. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Wine & Beer.-Kellermaysterey. <i>Gründtlicher bericht wie man alle wein Teütscher und Welscher landen vor allen zufallen bewaren...,</i> 16 leaves of manuscript notes, 1548. £2,000 to £3,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 29:</b> Table Globe'- Doppelmayr (J G) & Puschner (J G, engraver). An 8-inch German terrestrial table Globe, diameter c.200 mm, height c.300 mm, 1730. £6,000 to £8,000
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions</b
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> An album with 107 original watercolours featuring landscapes and views of various places in England, Scotland and Ireland, late 1840s. £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Hemingway (Ernest). Black and white, landscape photograph of man on horseback, signed and inscribed by Hemingway. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Unrecorded autograph letter by Charles William Stewart to his father the Marquess of Londonerry, describing the ceremony of the presentation to Consul Bonaparte in January 1803. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Davis (William Heath). <i>Seventy-five Years in California,</i> Author's Section of the Argonaut Edition, no. 142 [of 250 copies] signed by the editor and publisher on limitation leaf. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, May 30:</b> Prussian Royal Family. Six signed photographs of members of Prussian Royal Family, in a contemporary folding triptych, ebonised wood display case. £1,500 to £2,000
  • <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> <i>Le Neptune François, ou Atlas Nouveau des Cartes Marines. Levées et Gravées par ordre exprès du Roy...</i> Paris: Hubert Jaillot, 1693 [but Amsterdam: Pieter Mortier, 1693-1700].
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> BLAEU, Willem Janszoon. <i>Le Flambeau de la Navigation monstrant la description & delineation de toutes les Costes & Havres…</i> Amsterdam: Jan Jansson, 1620.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> [WALDSEEMÜLLER, Martin.] <i>Orbis Typus Universalis Iuxta Hydrographorum Traditionem.</i> [Strasbourg: 1513].
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> KEULEN, Johannes van. <i>De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Werelt.</i> Amsterdam: Johannes van Keulen, 1688.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> DONCKER, Hendrick. <i>De Zee-Atlas of Water-Waerelt.</i> Amsterdam: Hendrick Doncker, 1666.
    <b>Christie’s London June 5:</b> GARNIER, Francis and Ernest DOUDART DE LAGRÉE. <i>Voyage d'exploration en Indo-Chine effectué pendant les années 1866, 1867 et 1868 par une Commission Française.</i> Paris: Hachette, 1873 [-1875].
  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Very Fine. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Neill, John R. Pen-and-ink drawing from Oz, "He raised his gun, took aim and fired," $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Bonhams<br>Fine Books and Manuscripts<br>June 13 - New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Thompson, Kay. <i>Eloise at Christmastime.</i> New York: Random House, [1958]. First edition. In custom binding by Asprey. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. $2,000 to $3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. $7,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Taylor, Deems. <i>Walt Disney’s Fantasia.</i> New York: 1940. In custom binding by Asprey. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. $5,000 to $7,000
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. $1,500 to $2,500
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br><i>Breviarium Romanum,</i> before 1478. Est: € 15,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>C. Ptolemaeus, <i>Geographie,</i> 1513.<br>Est: € 140,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Daphnis & Chloé,</i> 1961.<br>Est: € 130,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1499. Est: € 20,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>J. H. van Linschoten, <i>Itinerarium,</i> 1644. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. Chagall, <i>Cirque,</i> 1967.<br>Est: € 120,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>G. L. L. Buffon, <i>Histoire naturelle des oiseaux,</i> 1765-83. Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>K. Marx, <i>Das Kapital,</i> 1867.<br>Est: € 30,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>P. J. Redouté, <i>Les liliacées,</i> 1802-16.<br>Est: € 120,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 27th</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>M. E. Bloch, <i>Naturgeschichte der Fische,</i> 1782-95. Est: € 50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>H. A. Châtelain, <i>Atlas historique,</i> 1718-20. Est: € 18,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:</b><br>Bauhausbücher, complete series, 1925-30. Est: € 28,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2014 Issue

Tracking the Most Expensive Book – A Copy of Audubon's Birds of America is Sold

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A copy of the most expensive, reasonably obtainable printed book was sold at auction at the beginning of April. The double-elephant folio first edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America was hammered down at Sotheby's in New York on April 1. For years, Audubon's Birds held the record for the highest price ever reached at auction. It was pushed down a notch last fall when a copy of the Bay Psalm Book surpassed its record, but the Bay Psalm is not really obtainable. It had been 66 years since the previous copy was offered at auction, and it's unlikely that any of us will live long enough to see another one come around. A Gutenberg Bible would obtain many, many times as much as a Bay Psalm if it ever reached market, but none of those have been seen since early in the last century. An Audubon first is still obtainable, a copy coming to market every few years.

 

This can be explained by the relative commonness of a first edition Birds of America. There are believed to be at least 120 copies of it still in existence. Only 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book are known to have survived. Many more copies of the Bay Psalm Book were said to have been printed, but it was not a spectacular production and would have been used until worn ragged. Audubon's Birds was a spectacularly beautiful book. Most copies were lovingly cared for and handed down through the generations.

 

This copy did not achieve anything like the $11.4 million record reached by the Lord Hesketh copy in 2010. It wasn't expected to be close. The Lord Hesketh copy was in pristine condition. This one was not. It wasn't in bad shape; it just wasn't particularly good either. Instead, it sold for $3,525,000. That was above the $3 million estimate of its previous owner, the Indiana Historical Society, and within the $3-$5 million estimate range given by Sotheby's.

 

The Indiana Historical Society purchased its copy in 1933, for a very reasonable price of $4,000. That was during the height of the Depression, so bargains were undoubtedly available, especially since $4,000 would have been a meaningful amount of money in those days. Nonetheless, a gain of 88,000% is more than good, even for 80 years. Whoever made that purchase on behalf of the Indiana Historical Society is owed a big “thank you.”

 

The shortcoming in terms of value with this copy is that it had been purchased by the Indiana Historical Society from a library. Library copies are often actually used, as opposed to being gently placed on a bookshelf. There was some soiling and other evidences of use. Linen backing to the plates did not help. Still, $3.5 million is serious cash. We do not know this for certain, but would not be surprised if this is the highest price ever paid for an ex-library book.

 

This was the fifth copy of this book to come up for sale at auction this century. The most recent previous copy sold in 2012 for $7,922,500. Before that, the then record setting Hesketh copy went in 2010. Another copy sold in 2005 for $5,616,000, and one sold in 2000 for $8,802,500. The 2000 sale also set a record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction at that time, not surpassed until the Hesketh copy a decade later. At least four copies of the book sold in the 20th century for over $1 million.

 

Along with Audubon's most famous work, one other book was sold at Sotheby's auction. It was a copy of Audubon's other great color plate book – a first edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. It sold for $245,000. The Indiana Historical Society purchased this book in 1951 for $900.

 

The Probability of Reappearance tool that comes with the AE Database estimates that another copy of the first edition of Birds of America will likely come around for auction again in roughly another 3 years. If you are interested in getting the next one, we suggest you start saving your pennies today.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Bouchette (Lt.-Col.Joseph, Canadian Surveyor-General of British North America). A Plan of the Province of Upper Canada, manuscript map, [c.1790-1795]. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Browne (W.H.). Ten Coloured Views taken during the Arctic Expedition of Her Majesty's Ships "Enterprise" and "Investigator", first edition, presentation copy, 1850. £4,000 to £6,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Lovelace (Ada).- Lacroix (Silvestre Francois). <i>An Elementary Treatise on the Differential and Integral Calculus,</i> first edition in English, Lovelace's copy, Cambridge, 1816. £3,000 to £4,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Rackham (Arthur). <i>Grimm's Fairy Tales,</i> one of 750 copies signed by the artist, 1909. One of several signed limited editions by Rackham in the sale. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Schedel (Hartmann). <i>Liber chronicarum [German] Das Buch der Croniken und Geschichten,</i> Augsburg, Johann Schonsperger, 1500. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Gandhi, Mohandas.- Eichenberg (Fritz, German-American illustrator). Autograph inscription by Ghandi with celebrated bust-length wood-engraved portrait by Eichenberg, c.1942. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Shakespeare (William). <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> 2 vol. in 1, for Bernard Lintott, [1710-11]. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Churchill (SirWinston Spencer). Midland Conservative Club. Presidential Address Delivered by Winston Spencer Churchill, Esq., June 1st, 1899, first edition, [1899]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> [Walpole (Horace)]. <i>The Castle of Otranto, a Story,</i> first Dublin edition, Dublin, 1765. £800 to £1,200
    <b>Forum Auctions: Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper. May 30, 2019</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Dickens (Charles). Sketches by "Boz," Illustrative of Every-day Life, and Every-day People, [First Series] - Second Series, together 3 vol., first editions, first issues , 1836-7. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Wilde (Oscar). [Works], 14 vol., first collected edition, one of 80 sets on Japanese vellum, Methuen & Co., 1908. £8,000 to £12,000
    <b>Forum Auctions May 30:</b> Rowling (J.K.). <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first edition, first printing, 1997. £20,000 to £30,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>John Carte, <i>The Frontispiece of the Cosmographical Clock,</i> hand-colored broadside, London, circa 1699. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>John Fisk Allen & William Sharp, <i>Victoria Regia,</i> Boston, 1854. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> London, 1844. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Abraham Ortelius, <i>Islandia,</i> Antwerp, 1598. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Plancius Petrus, map of Southern Africa, Amsterdam, 1592-94. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Pieter Verbiest, <i>Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica,</i> Antwerp, 1636. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>Emil B. Fischer, <i>Map of Southwestern Colorado,</i> lithograph, 1893. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b><br>A.P. Folie, <i>Plan of the Town of Baltimore,</i> Philadelphia, 1792. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Lewis Evans, <i>A General Map of the Middle British Colonies,</i> proof copy, annotated, signed & dated by Evans, Philadelphia, 1755. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries May 23:</b> Lester Beall, <i>Rural Electrification Administration,</i> 1939. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Jacob Robyn, after Arent Roggeveen, <i>The First Part of the Burning Fen,</i> with English text, Amsterdam, circa 1680. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Large bird’s-eye view of New York City, hand-painted photo, circa 1933. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries June 6:</b> Arundel Society, group of approx. 185 chromolithographed Renaissance paintings, late-19th century. $6,000 to $9,000.

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