Exquisite editions from Collectible Authors

Collectible Sylvia Plath

Collectible John Steinbeck

Lion in the White House: A Life of Theodore RooseveltRare bookselling can sometimes mirror current affairs. Last month’s most expensive sales on AbeBooks stretched from America’s Congress to Islam’s Mecca. Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), the 26th president of the United States, is adored by collectors of political treasures and one lucky person spent a massive £17,216 on a key signed first printing of Roosevelt’s first address to Congress in 1901.

We also have many collectors of rare Arabic literature and last month another buyer spent £4,131 on a rare 1925 two-volume account in Arabic of pilgrimages to Mecca. Salvador Dali’s illustrated edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy (sold for more than £5,000) is also worth a second look – a stunning limited edition from 1960 filled with beautiful woodcuts from the master of surrealism. Books illustrated by Dali (1904-1989) continue to fascinate fans of art.

AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in May 2010

1. Message of the President of the United States. Fifty-Seventh Congress. First Session
by Theodore Roosevelt- £17,216

The first printing of Roosevelt's first address to Congress on December 3, 1901. His long speech is the equivalent of a State of the Union address, and encompasses his views on all of the issues and concerns at the start of the presidency. Signed “Theodore Roosevelt.”

2. The Divine Comedy by Dante - £5,522
A deluxe edition limited to 750 copies, published in 1960 and illustrated by Salvador Dali. Includes 100 woodcuts plus six color decompositions by Dali.

The Divine Comedy by Dante, illustrated by Salvador Dali
The Divine Comedy by Dante - illustrated by Salvador Dali, including 100 woodcuts. Click for larger image.

3. The Antiquities of Nations; more particularly of the Celtae or Gauls by Paul-Yves Pezron - £4,590
Published in 1706, this is the first edition in English of Pezron’s Antiquité de la Nation et de la Langue des Celtes (1703). Translated by David Jones.

4. Mir'at al Haramain aw al rihlat ul Hijaziyya wa l Hajj wa masha'iruhu ad Diniyya by Ibrahim Rif'aat Pasha - £4,131
This view of holy sanctuaries, and journeys in Hejaz and the Hajj and its religious ceremonies was written in Arabic and published in 1925 in two volumes. This copy was signed by the author - an Egyptian Major-General, who completed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina four times.

5. Le Lys Dans La Vallee by Honoré de Balzac - £3,893
The Lily of the Valley, the original edition published in 1836 in Paris in two volumes.

6. L'Entrée triomphante de leurs maiestez Louis XIV. Roi de France et de Navarre, et Marie Thérèse d'Austriche son espouse, dans la ville de Paris, capitale de leurs royaumes, au retour de la signature de la paix générale et de leur heureux marriage - £3,829
This book, published in 1662, chronicles the entry into Paris, August 26, 1660, of Louis XIV and Marie Therese, after the signing of the Peace of the Pyrenees. Published two years after the ceremony, the text was written by Jean Troncon with illustrations from the best engravers of the time.

7. Allegory of Music by Athanasius Kircher - £3,598
This rare 17th century engraving from around 1650 has been attributed to Kircher and depicts a very colorful group of musicians, including a one-legged keyboard player and various animals and mythical creatures performing from open music books.

8. Weird Tales edited by Edwin Baird - £3,443
April 1923 issue of Weird Tales; the second ever issue of the renowned science fiction, fantasy and horror pulp fiction magazine.

9. Biblia utriusque Testamenti. De quorum nova interpretatione et copiosissimis in eam annotationibus lege quam in limine operis habes epistolam edited by Robert Estienne - £3,340
Latin Bible including the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament bound into two volumes. Published 1557 and bound by Fitterer. Etienne was first to print the Bible divided into standard numbered verses.

10. Vita Christi Salvatoris Nostri Iuxta Seriem Evangelistaru by Ludolphus de Saxonia - £3,841
The Vita Christi is a series of dogmatic and moral dissertations, of spiritual instructions, meditations and prayers, in relation to Christ’s life. Published in 1497.