Exquisite editions from Collectible Authors

Rare and Collectible Books

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre DumasJuly's most expensive list is a good one. Topping the list is a rare 1846 edition of the first English translation of Alexandre Dumas' classic tale of loyalty, adventure and camaraderie, The Three Musketeers. The second most expensive item is chilling to read, in more ways than one - the harrowing true account of an ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic, written by one of the survivors. This first edition fetched nearly four grand and included maps, coloured plates and folding panoramas.

Other items of particular note include a Nabokov book that is not Lolita. Coming in at number five we have his Pale Fire, a fascinating and unusual novel which encapsulates a999-line poem, along with notes, commentary and editorial by a fictional friend of the (also fictional) poet throughout. This copy was #44 of a 266-copy limited edition.

Number six is a portion of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, which was composed over a period of 17 years and published bit by bit. This first edition copy was signed by Joyce himself on the title page, and is a prize for any collector. Read on for all 10 gems.

AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in July 2010

1. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas - £4,511
The first English translation of Dumas’ classic, published in 1846 in London and bound in leather. 

The Worst Journey in the world by Apsley Cherry-Garrard2. The Worst Journey in the World.  Antarctic 1910-1913 by Apsley Cherry-Garrard - £3,603
One of the most enduring accounts of exploits in the Antarctic, published in 1922, and written by a survivor of Captain Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition. “Cherry” was one of the crew’s youngest members; he won his place on the expedition after donating £1,000 towards its cost.   This book describes Scott’s winter expedition in July 1911 to capture eggs of the Emperor penguin, as well as the much longer ill-fated journey to the South Pole later that summer, which took Scott’s life.  Cherry survived the South Pole journey because he was one of the team selected to return north after packing supplies, however he was among the search party who found the tent where Scott, Bowers, and Wilson died.  The book remains a classic, having been acclaimed as the greatest true adventure story ever written by National Geographic Magazine and was published as Penguin Books' 100th publication. This copy includes maps, colored plates and folding panoramas.

3.  La Bibbia, Tradotta in Lingva Tofcana - £3,520
This Italian bible was printed by Lucantonio Giunti in Venice in 1545 and contains Sanctes Marmochinus’ translation of the text into Latin.

4. The George Eumorfopoulos Collection by R.L. Hobson - £2,928
Eumorfopoulos was a British collector of Eastern art whose private collection grew until he had to add a two-storey museum to the back of his Chelsea townhouse.  He founded the Oriental Ceramic Society and was its first president from 1921 until his death in 1939.  He organised and funded the publication of a catalogue of Chinese, Korean and Persian pottery and porcelain in 11 volumes illustrating and describing the items from his collection during the 1920s and early 1930s.  This sale was for six of those volumes. Published in London from 1925-28.

5. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov - £2,560
Published in 1994 by Arion Press, this edition was printed in two volumes and limited to 226 copies (200 numbered, 26 lettered), this being No. 44.  The novel was originally published in 1962 and combines a 999-line poem titled "Pale Fire" into its narrative.

6. Anna Livia Plurabelle by James Joyce - £2,528
Finnegan's Wake was written over 17 years and published in fragments as it was completed.  Titled for the protagonist’s wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle was the first of these fragments that would eventually form Joyce’s final book. A first edition copy published by Crosby Gaige in 1928, limited to 800 copies and signed by Joyce on the title page.

Mahzor Worms by Malachi Beit-Arie7.  Mahzor Worms by Malachi Beit-Arie - £2,494
This facsimile edition of Jewish prayer, originally produced in 1272, was published in 1985 and limited to 300 copies. A mahzor (Hebrew for cycle) contains the prayers used at high festivals. The Mahzor of Worms was produced in 1272 on the Rhine and used by the cantors of Worms for more than 650 years as their "official" festival prayer book. The facsimile contains faithfully reproduced pages including the text and illumination (additional decoration).

8. Paris de Nuit by Brassaï and Paul Morand - £2,478
This first edition combines Brassaï’s photos with Morand’s introduction.  This collection of 60 photographs showcases the seedier side of Paris, as well as the city's high society, its intellectuals, its ballet, and grand operas.  The book created a sensation when it was published; many pictures from the series were deemed too risqué and were not exhibited or published for decades, until the 1976 sequel.La Leçon D’Amour Dans un Parc by René Boylesve

9. La Leçon D’Amour Dans un Parc by René Boylesve -£2,440
The lesson of love in a park was published in French in 1925 by Aux Editions Lapina and illustrated with watercolors of Pierre Brissaud, limited to 521 copies and signed by the editor on the title page.

10. History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding -£2,304
First edition, published in six volumes, in 1749.  This famous comic novel concerns the life story of an abandoned child who was found on the property of a kind and wealthy landowner. The book was one of the earliest examples of English prose, which can be described today as a novel and additionally acted as a biting social commentary for the time because of its description of class friction, prostitution and sexual promiscuity.