Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Casino Royale
by Ian Fleming

Our top 25 sales from 2012 illustrate the broad nature of rare books. There are modern first editions of iconic books, significant religious and theological works,and pioneering books of science and discovery. Our most expensive sale was a copy of Johann Bayer’s 1603 celestial atlas with 48 lavishly illustrated tables portraying the constellations identified by the Greeks and a 49th table showing 12 newly discovered constellations – it sold for £30,946.  This was the first star atlas to cover the entire celestial sphere, and introduced a new system of star designation known as the ‘Bayer Designation.’

The second spot is occupied by one of the most successful media franchises in history, James Bond.  When Ian Fleming first put pen to paper and wrote Casino Royale in 1953, there was no way he could have imagined the enduring popularity of 007.  This inscribed first edition of Casino Royale sold for more than £29,000 and would grace any rare book collection.

In third place is Franz Kafka’s novel Die Verwandlung (aka The Metamorphosis), which sold for £18,488.The original German edition is highly sought after because of Kafka’s ability to deliver unexpected impact at the end of his sentences. This effect has been difficult for English translators to replicate so the original German script is essential for Kafka collectors.

In addition to the top 25 overall sales, you can also discover the most expensive sales in various categories including children's literature, art, science, poetry, and others.

 




Most Expensive Sales Categories




AbeBooks' 10 Most Expensive Sales in 2012

1. Uranometria, Omnium Asterismorum Continens Schemata, Nova Methodo Delineata, Sereis Laminis Expressa by Johann Bayer - £30,946
A rare piece of astronomical history from 1603 – a first edition of the most famous celestial atlas of all with 48 lavishly illustrated tables portraying the constellations identified by the Greeks and a 49th table showing 12 newly discovered constellations. The book has the coat of arms of a Venetian family on both covers and a monastery stamp on its title page. The title translates as ‘Uranometria, containing charts of all the constellations, drawn by a new method and engraved on copper plates’ and ‘Uranometria’ comes from Urania, the muse of the heavens.

2. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming - £29,000
A signed first edition of the 1953 Jonathan Cape publication of Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel; this copy has also been inscribed by Fleming "To/ _____ ______/Something for the/flight/from the author".

3. Die Verwandlung by Franz Kafka - £18,488
A first edition, published 1915 by Kurt Wolff. This famous novella contains 73 pages plus five additional pages of advertisements at the rear.

4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak - £16,200
Published in 1963, this first edition came with its first state dust jacket in fine condition. Sendak had signed the title page under his printed name.

5. A Latin bible from 1491 - £16,132
A copy of a ‘Poor Man’s Bible’ (so-called because of its smaller size) printed by Johann Froben in Basel. It was the first bible to be printed in an octavo format, making it easier to transport and more affordable to a common church-goer. Until the publication of Froben’s edition, bibles were massive, iconic objects

6. Livre d’Heures (book of hours) - £16,050
A book of hours in Latin and French once owned by Etienne de Poncher, archbishop of Tours, in central France, from 1551-1552. The book, printed on parchment, has a velvet cover on wooden boards with two brass clasps from the 16th century. A book of hours is a devotional book, usually an illuminated manuscript, that contains prayers, hymns and psalms. This one featured many images of animals.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
7=Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - £15,390
A true first edition, in two volumes, from 1868. The book is accompanied by a small slip of paper signed by Alcott.

7= A Polyglot bible from 1599-1602 edited by Elisa Hutter - £15,390
A folio bible in six volumes bound in blind-stamped tooled leather. This is the first multi-language bible in which English is one of the languages. Western and Eastern European languages are placed in columns parallel to the classical Hebrew, Greek and Latin. This book is often referred to as the ‘Nuremberg Polyglot’ or ‘Hutter-Polyglot’. Hutter was a professor of Hebrew in Leipzig.

9. A Latin psalter - £15,220
A psalter is a book containing the Book of Psalms and usually other devotional material. This undated psalter is a well preserved Latin manuscript, printed on parchment, containing antiphones (responses to psalms) and songs. It has a Gothic blind tooled binding with fillet embossing, diamond shaped fields with depiction of rosettes and an eagle, and a brass clasp decorated with letters.

11. Les Ruines de les Splus Beaux Monuments de la Grece by Julien David Le Roy - £14,635
A second edition of ‘Ruins of the Most Beautiful Monuments of Greece’, two volumes bound together as a single large folio.  Roy, a French architect and archaeologist, rushed this book into print in 1758 in order to beat his British rivals, James Stuart and Nicholas Revett.

10. Cosmographia by Petrus Apianus - £14,584
Printed in Paris, this is a pioneering book on astronomy and geography from 1551. It features a large folding woodcut map and many diagrams defining weather, climate and the continents. A hugely influential book, it was widely translated in later years.

12. Mystere de la Vengeance de Notre Seigneur by Eustache Mercade - £12,670
Published in 1491 in Paris by Antoine Verard, this first edition lacks 16 leaves, but only one complete copy is known to exist, in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The sale also included a letter by French bibliographer Amedee Boinet, who confirms the exceptional rarity of this book.

13. A 13th century Latin bible – £12,235
Written on vellum and produced in Paris around 1250. A beautiful handwritten manuscript with decorations in the margins and initials in red and blue. Rebound with 16th century leather with one remaining clasp

Voyage de La Pérouse autour du Monde by Jean-François de Galaup
Voyage de Pérouse autour du Monde
by Jean-François de Galaup

14. Voyage de La Pérouse autour du Monde by Jean-François de Galaup - £12,153
Published in 1798 by Plassan, this second edition set contains four octavo volumes and one atlas folio. They detail the journeys of explorer Jean-François de Galaup who was appointed by Louis XVI to lead an expedition around the world; and more specifically to complete and correct the Pacific maps of James Cook.

15. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway - £11,700
Published in 1952, this first edition was inscribed by the author "with very best wishes, Ernest Hemingway, Keywest/1958."

16. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - £11,423
A first edition with original first state dust jacket with a Truman Capote quote in green.

17= Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri - £10,016
A 1506 copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy - a rare counterfeit of a 1502 edition.

17= The Pyramids of Gizeh by John Shae Perring - £10,016
Three parts in one volume, published in 1839-1842. A large folio edition with 59 plates featuring sketches by J.E. Andrews. A key book on Egyptian archaeology written by a gifted explorer, topographer and draftsman.

19. The Call of the Wild by Jack London - £9,519
A first edition, first printing, signed by Jack London on a cheque pasted to the endpaper.

20. An illustrated bible from 1650 - £9,237
This 17th century bible produced by Nicolaum Johannis Piscatorem and featuring 480 copperplate engravings.

21. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham - £9,130
First impression of the first British edition published in 1951 and inscribed ‘Yours, John Wyndham / (John Benyon Harris) 22-8-51.’ Presented in a custom clamshell case designed by binder James Tapley.

22. Theatrum Fungorum by Franciscus van Sterbeeck - £8,736
A fine first edition of this 1675 study of mushrooms. The book depicts 349 varieties and was written in Dutch.

23. Lindenia Iconography of Orchids by P. de Pannemaeker, G. Severeyns, and J.Goffart  - £8,272
A complete set of the first English edition from 1891-1897. Bound in six folio volumes, with plates chromolithographed by P. de Pannemaeker, G. Severeyns, and J. Goffart.

24. Atlas geográfico, estadístico e histórico de la República Mexicana by A. García y Cubas - £8,250
The first edition of the first great scientific atlas of Mexico, published in 1858 as a grand folio.

25. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie - £8,085
One of 12 signed and numbered leather-bound copies of Rushdie’s novel. Issued by Viking in 1988, this edition is printed on vellum, bound in goatskin and comes with a custom-made folding case.

See All of Abebooks' Most Expensive Monthly Sales

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Science Books

1. Uranometria, Omnium Asterismorum Continens Schemata, Nova Methodo Delineata, Sereis Laminis Expressa by Johann Bayer - £30,946
A rare piece of astronomical history from 1603 – a first edition of the most famous celestial atlas of all with 48 lavishly illustrated tables portraying the constellations identified by the Greeks and a 49th table showing 12 newly discovered constellations.

2. Cosmographia by Petrus Apianus - £14,584
Printed in Paris, this is pioneering book on astronomy and geography from 1551. 

3. The Interpretation of the Atom by Frederick Soddy - £5,274
A first edition of this important book from 1932 which deals with developments in radioactivity and atomic chemistry from the turn of the century to the time of writing. This specific book was the author’s copy and contains annotations to more than 250 pages.  Signed and dated by Soddy in 1947.

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Mathematics Books

Principia Mathematica by Alfred North Whitehead
Principia Mathematica
by Alfred North Whitehead

1. Principia Mathematica by Alfred North Whitehead - £5,848
This is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics written by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell. This set contains a first edition of volume II (1912) and volume III (1913), and second edition of volume I (1925).  The book is an attempt to derive all mathematical truths from a well-defined set of axioms and inference rules in symbolic logic.

2. The Game of Logic by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - £2,996
In addition to his children’s literature, Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was a trained mathematician who published a number of works covering geometry, matrix algebra and logic.  This is a first edition of Dodgson’s game, which attempted to introduce formal deductive logic to children, included original paper counters and game cards.

3. Traité du Calcul Intégral, pour servir de Suite a L'Analyse des Infiniment-Petits de M. le Marquis de L'Hôpital by Louis Antoine de Bougainville - £2,500
Bound in two volumes and published in 1771.  This is scarce first edition of Bougainville's important continuation of L'Hopital's ‘Analyse des infiniment petits’, a key work in the development of calculus.

 

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Children's & Young Adult Books

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak - £16,200
Published in 1963, a first edition with its first state dust jacket in fine condition. Signed by Sendak.

2. Sky Island, The Sea Fairies and Rinkitink In Oz by L. Frank Baum -£5,848
First editions of three L. Frank Baum books published in 1911, 1912, and 1916 respectively.

3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - £4,374
This oversized tome measured 18.5 x 13.5x4 inches and was published in 1969.  It contains Carroll’s classic story along with 12 original illustrations by Salvador Dali.  This is a limited edition and is #937 of 2,500 copies signed by Dali.

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Art Books

1. Lysistrata by Aristophanes -£4,638
Published in 1934 by the Limited Editions Club and illustrated by Pablo Picasso, this book contains six original etchings and 40 line drawings by Picasso. The book was limited to 1500 copies, this is #462 and signed on the colophon by Picasso.

2. The Art Institute of Chicago: 100 Masterpieces by Marc Chagall, Georgia O'Keeffe, Joan Miro, Ivan Albright, Willem de Kooning - £4,398
Bound in full leather, this numbered deluxe edition of the 1978 Rand McNally publication contains the signatures of Chagall, O'Keeffe, Miro, Albright and de Kooning added on the 100th birthday of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1979.

3. La Révolte des Anges by Anatole France - £3,970
The text of France’s novel is accompanied by 58 colored lithographs by Kees van Dongen. This edition was limited to 210 numbered copies and published in 1951. 

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Photography Books

1. Facile by Paul Eluard - £4,667
An iconic French photo-book. A first edition published in 1935 with a print run of just a thousand numbered copies, this is No. 674.  Eluard provided the poetry and Man Ray the photography. The book contains 12 heliogravure reproductions of Man Ray’s images on cream wove paper.

2. Sonarama Photograph Anthology published by Asahi Sonorama - £2,593
A complete set of 27 volumes published between 1977 and 1980. It contains works from Hiroshi Hamaya, Eikoh Hosoe, Hajime Sawatari, Nobuyoshi Araki, Masahisa Fukase, Shomei Tomatsu, Issei Suda, Ihei Kimura and others.

3. Images a la Sauvette by Henri Cartier-Bresson - £2,100
Published in 1952 ‘The Decisive Moment’ included a 126-photo portfolio. Cartier-Bresson became famous as a photographer for his coverage of Gandhi’s funeral and the Chinese Civil War.

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Poetry Books

1. Poèmes Saturniens by Paul Verlaine - £5,772
Published in 1866, this signed first edition is the first book Verlaine published and was limited to 500 copies.  This French poet was associated with the Symbolist movement, and is known as a key figure in the Fin de Siècle (end of the century) era in poetry.

2. Erlkonig by Franz Schubert - £5,035
A first edition of Schubert’s first published work and most famous ‘lied’ (German for song), fully engraved, inscribed by Schubert on the final leaf.  Presented in custom half morocco clamshell box, published 1821.

3. The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs by William Morris - £3,699
Printed in 1898, this was one of 300 paper copies printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press and includes two pictures designed by Edward Burne-Jones and engraved by W.H. Hooper.

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Maps & Atlases

1. Atlas geográfico, estadístico e histórico de la República Mexicana by A. García y Cubas - £8,250
A first edition of the first great scientific atlas of Mexico, published in 1858 as a grand folio. 

2. Gli Stati Uniti dell'America Delineati sullie ultime Osservazioni by Giovanni Domenico Cassini - £7,694
Cassini's uncommon six-sheet map of the United States from his "Huovo Atlante Geografico Universale". Cassini drew largely from the Zatta-Mitchell map of North America. "The map presents a summary of what continental Europeans understood of the fledgling United States at the end of the 18th century." Each sheet has a separate illustrated title cartouche, and in the bottom right corner is an inset of Newfoundland. The map is detailed, and includes roads and topography in addition to many place-names. The native tribes are noted, along with forts and towns

3. Tabula Russiae by Hessel Gerritsz - £4,142
Rare and important 1614 map of Russia based upon a proof copy of 1613, by the Dutch engraver and cartographer Hessel Gerritsz.  It was compiled from manuscripts brought back from Russia by Isaac Massa, a Dutch merchant and diplomat who traded in Moscow and was renowned for his knowledge of Russian geography. The map has a large title cartouche, sailing ships, a compass rose, and three men in Russian military uniform.

 


AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Ephemera

Carta Executoria de Hidalguia otorgada por Felipe II en favor de Rodrigo Gallego by Ejecutoria
Carta Executoria de Hidalguia otorgada

1. Carta Executoria de Hidalguia otorgada por Felipe II en favor de Rodrigo Gallego by Ejecutoria - £5,965
Published in 1570, this is a letter confirming the nobility of Rodrigo Gallego. It includes 42 leaves with a beautiful plant motif. 

2. Mountain Road Lottery of 1768 ticket #214 signed by George Washington - £5,650
This was an original ticket from the 1768 Mountain Road Lottery, a project conceived by Washington (among others) to help finance a road through the Allegheny Mountains in Virginia.  The ticket, with detached numbered stub, was signed by Washington.

3. Original pen-and-ink water color illustration by C.E. Brock - £3,215
An original signed illustration for Pride and Prejudice published in 1907 as part of the Series of English Idylls by J. M. Dent & Co. Brock’s illustrations were a revision of his previous illustrations for the Macmillan edition of Pride and Prejudice published in 1895.

 

 

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Travel & Exploration Books

1. Voyage de La Pérouse autour du Monde by Jean-François de Galaup - £12,153
Published in 1798 by Plassan, this second edition set contains four octavo volumes and one atlas folio. They detail the journeys of explorer Jean-François de Galaup.

2. A Voyage To Abyssinia, And Travels Into The Interior Of That Country, Executed Under The Orders Of The British Government, In The Years 1809 And 1810 by Henry Salt - £4,783
A first edition from 1814 of Salt’s account of his travels to meet the Tigrayan warlord Ras Wolde Selassie and explore diplomatic links on behalf of the English government. The book is illustrated with numerous engraved views and portraits after his own drawings.

3. The Journals of Lewis & Clark Expedition, All Volumes I to XIII by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark - £3,215
A set of first editions, volumes 1-13. The first volume was published in 1904.

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Medical Books

1.Die Zukunft Einer Illusion by Sigmund Freud - £6,687
A second German edition, published in 1928, by Psychoanalytischer. This copy was signed by the author on the front free endpaper and includes a typed letter in German, that has been laid in, from Dr. R. Luzzatto presenting the book to an associate.

2. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson - £5,336
A first edition, published 1968, of Watson’s autobiographical account of the discovery of the double helix structure. This copy was signed by Watson as well as Francis Crick (co-discoverer) on the title page.

3. A Prospect of Exterminating the Small-Pox; Being the History Of the Variolae Vaccinae, or Kine-Pox, Commonly Called the Cow Pox; as It has Appeared in England by Benjamin Waterhouse – £3,326
A first edition of this 40-page essay in two parts (published 1800 and 1802) that documents Waterhouse’s experiments in developing a small-pox vaccine

 

 

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

1. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham - £9,130
First impression of the first British edition published in 1951 and inscribed ‘Yours, John Wyndham / (John Benyon Harris) 22-8-51.’ 

2. The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan - £4,7434
A set of 12 books - all signed first editions from Jordan’s Wheel of Time series - The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams and The Gathering Storm.

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - £4,158
A first UK edition, published 1932, by Chatto & Windus, inscribed "For. with good wishes, Aldous Huxley, 1939" by Huxley on the front page. 

 

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales of Books Written by World Leaders

1. Marlborough: His Life and Times by Winston S. Churchill - £6,786
Published between 1933 and 1938, this signed set was limited to 155 copies (this being No. 111) and printed on thicker paper than the general trade edition.  Churchill wrote these books to refute claims about his famous ancestor John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722). The Duke was a famous military man and statesman whose up-and-down career spanned the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and several monarchs.

2. African Game Trails by Theodore Roosevelt - £4,720
Published in 1910, this first trade edition was inscribed by Roosevelt “Mr. L. DeSales Casey/with the best wishes of/Theodore Roosevelt/Oct. 18th 1918."

3. The New Examen by John Paget - £4,221
Published in 1934 by Haworth Press, this deluxe limited edition was limited to 50 signed and numbered copies bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.  Each copy was printed on handmade, water-marked, laid paper with deckled edges.  The book contains a foreword by Winston Churchill, and was also signed by him as well as Paget.

 

 

 

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