Once again the top 10 most expensive sales on AbeBooks has produced a combination of antiquarian rarities and sought after 20th century first editions including one of the most contentious books of the modern age, The Satanic Verses.
A rare limited edition of Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel sold for £8,085 during October. The book needs little introduction. It sparked protests from Muslims who interpreted the story as blasphemous to Islam. The novel was banned in a number of countries. On 14 February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwā against Rushdie, calling for his death, and the issue escalated with the UK and Iran ceasing formal diplomatic relations.
Technically the threat on Rushdie’s life still stands. Today, the story behind The Satanic Verses is once again in the news as the author recently released a memoir recounting his life in hiding. Rushdie’s account is called Joseph Anton - his secret alias and the combination of two of his favourite authors, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.
The most expensive sale of the month was Voyage de La Pérouse Autour du Monde by French naval officer Jean-François de Galaup, which sold for £12,153. This journal recounts numerous voyages and was published in 1798. AbeBooks also sold a first edition of Ian Fleming’s second book, Live and Let Die, for just over £3,196. The sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first film adaptation of Fleming’s 007 character.
Another interesting item on our list was a 17th century German guide to keeping a household. The book was written by Georg Andreas Böckler, who specialised in hydraulic architecture in Nuremberg, and it contains all manner of useful instruction for the homeowner. It covers everything from horticulture and cooking to raising animals, using home medicines and even construction techniques.
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 (pictured at right). 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.
2. 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.
3. The Christmas Books by Charles Dickens - £3,732
First edition copies of the following: A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man - each published between 1843-48 by Chapman & Hall in London.
4. Poems, With Elegies on the Author's Death by John Donne - £3,420
Published in 1699, this fifth edition of Donne’s collected poems contains the first appearance of his classic elegy "To his Mistress going to bed," and four other poems. This copy was bound in mottled calf and re-backed with a fully gilt spine by Philip Dusel. It also has an engraved bookplate of William, Baron Craven of Hamstead Marshall, and a later morocco book-label of poet John Drinkwater, with his ownership inscription dated 1923.
6. Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming - £3,196
A first edition, first printing of Fleming’s second James Bond novel published by Jonathan Cape in 1954.
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - £3,161
A signed first edition, first printing of the final Harry Potter book signed by JK Rowling. The book features a security hologram and originated from a signing in London on 21 July 2007.
8. The Complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle - £3,109
The Crowborough edition of Doyle’s works. Published in 1930 by Doubleday, this was a limited edition of 760 and includes eight volumes.
9. The New and Improved Bartender's Manual or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style by Harry Johnson - £2,954
Self-published in 1882, this scarce cocktail book was written in English for the first 76 pages, and then in German from page 77 to 189.
10. Nützliche Hauß- und Feld-Schule by Georg Andreas Böckler - £2,899
A first edition from 1678 of this work written for the 17th century householder. It includes advice on construction, agriculture, cooking, baking, canning, cloth weaving, animal husbandry, beekeeping, and medical recipes as well as charts pertaining to calendars, sundials, weights and dimensions and also a market calendar. Böckler was a German architect and engineer in Nuremberg.