Exquisite editions from Collectible Authors

Collectible Sylvia Plath

Collectible John Steinbeck

Paradise Lost by John MiltonIt’s another diverse list of rare books (and magazines). There is a political commentary from the US, a romantic interpretation of Paradise Lost illustrated by John Martin, a genre-defining Gothic novel, Dalí doing Dante, some astronomical writing, Tom Jones, some classic Marc Chagall and a set of epic fantasy novels from the 1980s. Many artists have illustrated John Milton’s works, including William Blake, Gustave Doré, Edward Burney and Dalí. Martin’s 1833 interpretation of Paradise Lost is particularly memorable for its vision of Heaven and Hell thanks to 48 wonderful mezzotint engravings. Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho was published in 1794 and shaped the Gothic romance genre - fans of Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse should thank their lucky stars that Ann came along.

Fantasy fans will be very familiar with David Eddings’ five-book series, The Belgariad. It recounts the story of the recovery of the Orb of Aldur and the coming-of-age adventures of an orphan called Garion. The title of each novel mixes chess and fantasy - Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, Castle of Wizardry and Enchanters’ End Game.

AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in June 2010

1. Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States by Joseph Story - £9,307
Edited by Thomas M. Cooley, a first edition of this famous political commentary. One of only two treatise written about early American constitutional law written by a sitting Supreme Court Justice. Henry Baldwin's General View is the other.

2. Paradise Lost by John Milton - £6,618
A beautiful 1833 edition illustrated by John Martin with 48 mezzotints. Martin (1789-1854) was an instrumental English painter, engraver and illustrator in the Romantic Movement.

The Belgariad by David Eddings

3. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe - £5,824
Four first edition volumes from 1794 in three-quarter green leather. Radcliffe's novel launched the Gothic romance genre, that continues with the likes of Stephenie Meyer, and is a seminal piece of writing.

4. The Divine Comedy by Dante - £5,165
Published in 1960, this edition was illustrated by the famous surrealist, Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), with 100 woodcuts. A deluxe edition, one of 750 copies.

5. Drawings for the Bible by Marc Chagall - £4,468
Published in 1960, this contains a double issue of Verve Magazine featuring drawings completed by the artist in 1958 and 1959. Twenty-four colour lithographs and 96 reproductions in black and white. Adored by fans of Chagall.

6=. The Belgariad by David Eddings - £2,978
A set of British first editions of all five books in Eddings’ epic fantasy series. Each hardcover is signed on the title page by the author (1931-2009). Published between 1983 and 1985.

6=. Tabulae Bergenses by Jan Van Ostaeyen - £2,978
Van Ostaeyen, also known as Johannes Stadius or Estadius, was the royal mathematician to Philip II of Spain and also mathematician to the Duke of Savoy. He was one of the first astronomers to adopt the theories of Copernicus. In this book, a first edition from 1560, Stadius offers his own theories on astronomy - one of the earliest accounts of the subject.

8. Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific - £2,647
A complete set of rare astronomy and physics magazines. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) was founded in 1889 by a group of California astronomers after seeing a rare total solar eclipse.

9. The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding- £2,482
Six volumes bound in dark green half morocco leather with patterned boards. A second edition probably printed on 13 April 1749 - about a month after the first edition. This sale also included a rare seventh volume from 1750 - a spurious sequel, called The History of Tom Jones, The Foundling, In His Married State, penned by another author.

10. Philosophie Zoologique by J.B.P.A. Lamarck - £2,400
Lamarck founded the doctrine of the evolutionary development of animal life. His theory was, of course, later adopted by Charles Darwin. Two volumes bound in half sheepskin from 1830.