Monday, 31 October 2016

AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales

Two Alices, two Waughs, and two Brontës can be found on this list of AbeBooks' most expensive sales that features several famous books from famous names. However, the complete print run of The British Gazette newspaper, all eight issues, stands out as a remarkable slice of paper-based ephemera that has now lasted 90 years.
1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - £27,500

Only 22 copies of the true first edition are in existence after Lewis Carroll withdrew the entire print run of 2,000 copies. One such copy came up for auction earlier in 2016 and was expected to sell for between $2 million and $3 million, but it failed to meet its reserve and didn't sell. This copy that sold via AbeBooks was one of the first thousand copies printed for the American market. Bound in its original red cloth, this book was housed in a red morocco case created by famed bookbinders Sangorski & Sutcliffe. The publisher is Appleton of New York and the publication date is 1866.
2. A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh - £13,450

Published by Chapman & Hall in 1934, this first edition was inscribed by the author, "Best love from Evelyn to Bertie & Diane." A Handful of Dust is a satire but with serious themes. The story details the misfortunes of Tony Last, a shallow English country squire who joins a Brazilian jungle expedition. The plot is particularly autobiographical and reflects Waugh's desertion of his own wife and his travels to South America.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - £13,080
A signed first edition of this classic from 1960 in fine condition with a price clipped dust jacket. Harper Lee died in February 2016. The most expensive copy of this book ever sold on AbeBooks went for £25,000 in May 2011.
First editions of Flappers and Philosophers, The Beautiful and Damned, Tales Of The Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby, All The Sad Young Men, and Tender Is The Night - all with facsimile dust jackets. The set also included a number of works about the author and his wife Zelda.
5. The British Gazette (issues 1-8) - £8,030

The British Gazette was a short-lived newspaper published by the Government during the 1926 General Strike. Printers were among the first workers to strike so newspapers were severely restricted. Issues one to eight is the complete run of the paper, which Winston Churchill, while chancellor of the exchequer, edited. Signed by Churchill, and fellow politicians Stanley Baldwin and J.C.C. Davidson. This sale consisted of eight double-sided broadsheets and Churchill's original handwritten notice (pictured above) to the Press announcing the termination of the strike.
6. Great Books of the Western World (96 vols) - £7,990
The Franklin Press' 25th anniversary edition from 1970 of this epic collection of classic books from Homer and Plato to Darwin and Tolstoy.
7. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh - £7,945
A copy of the first US edition, first printing from 1945, inscribed by Waugh "Henie Peters, with love from, Evelyn 1946." Henie Peters was the wife of Waugh's agent A.D. Peters. Waugh's opinion of his own book cooled over the years, but in 1998 the Modern Library ranked Brideshead Revisited on its top 100 list of the best English-language novels of the 20th century.
8. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali - £7,766

The 1969 limited edition signed by Dali, who supplied 12 surreal illustrations. New York's Maecenas Press-Random House distributed this edition as their book of the month and it has been sought-after by collectors ever since. In 2015, Princeton University Press issued a 150th anniversary reprint edition and now we can all enjoy Dali's work without paying £9,500.
9. Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey by Emily Brontë & Anne Brontë respectively - £7,381
Two works in one volume. Second edition from December 1850 but the title date of a large number of copies was altered to 1851. This edition contains Charlotte Brontë's 'Biographical Notice' of her two sisters with a preface to Wuthering Heights, and a series of poems by Emily and Anne which appeared for the first time.
10. Sports et Divertissements (Sports and Pastimes) by Erik Satie - £7,215

This is a rare collector's album with beautiful Art Deco illustrations by Charles Martin of Satie's cycle of 21 short piano pieces composed in 1914.

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