Following J.D Salinger’s death on 27 January, AbeBooks witnessed a surge in sales of The Catcher in the Rye and his writing in general. Two of Salinger’s books appear on our first most expensive sales list of 2010 and, of course, one of them is The Catcher in the Rye. The list is diverse as always. British artist George Stubbs (1724-1806) is best known for his paintings of horses so it’s interesting to see his book of equine anatomical drawings on the top 10. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th US president, makes the list and the first edition of African Game Trails represents the hunting section of his very full life.
J.K. Rowling might have been superseded by Stephenie Meyer and Stieg Larsson (1954-2004), on the bestseller lists but the sale of a set of original sketches by her shows interest remains strong in the Harry Potter creator. Sadly, Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) does not appear often on our most expensive sale lists – Linda Tressel, his experiment in the importance of literary reputation is a welcome addition. Athanasius Kircher, one of the great scholars of the 17th century, is likely to always be in demand.
1. Mundus Subterraneus by Athanasius Kircher - £6,204
Kircher was a 17th century Jesuit scholar who, among other things, specialised in geology. Mundus Subterraneus was originally published in 1664 and in it he suggested the tides were caused by water moving to and from a subterranean ocean. This edition was published in 1678.
2. The Anatomy of the Horse by George Stubbs - £5,584
Before Stubbs became a household name for painting beautiful horses, he researched and completed this book of equine drawings, including bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, nerves, arteries, veins and glands. Published in 1766.
3. African Game Trails: An Account of the African Wanderings of an American Hunter-Naturalist by Theodore Roosevelt - £5,041
First edition from 1910, this is an account of Roosevelt’s 1909 hunting trip made shortly after his presidency. Signed and inscribed to John B. Pratt, a journalist who often travelled with Roosevelt.
4. Original sketches by J.K. Rowling - £5,010
Sketches by Rowling from before Harry Potter was published, including an illustrated invitation to Jessica Rowling’s 3rd birthday. The invitation was in the form of an old western “wanted” poster; it shows a collection of cowboys and indians above a guitar and a cactus and says ' Please leave all guns, bows and arrows and tomahawks at your ranch/wigwam'.
7. Linda Tressel by Anthony Trollope - £3,412
First edition from 1868 in two volumes. Linda Tressel and its companion book, Nina Balatka, were published without the author’s name as part of an experiment by Trollope to determine whether the public were buying his books because of the author's fame, or the quality of his writing.
8. Les Diners de Gala / The Dali Cookbook by Salvador Dali by Salvador Dali - £3,105
A first edition of this out-of-print cookbook published 1973 signed by Dali.
9. The Botanical Magazine: or, Flower Garden Displayed - £3,090
Published by William Curtis beginning in 1787 it was the premier journal for early botanical illustration. This set included eight volumes bound into four from 1790-1796
10. Codex Aureus. Das Goldene Evangelienbuch Von Echternach - £2,798
Facsimile of the 11th century Gospel Book. The Codex Aureus is one of the most lavishly illuminated Ottonian manuscripts and became famous due to its golden letters.