I love these lists of really, really pricey sales, whether in books, paintings, or bric-a-brac. I wonder why people put out so much for these lovely old objects. Because they love them, or to put away as an investment.
Naturally, I hope it is the former.
ABEBooks has put out their biggest sales of the year, price-wise, and the commentary follows. (What they didn't mention is that Louisa Alcott brought in the big money, too.) Hit the link to see more, by category.
Our top 25 sales from 2012 illustrate the broad nature of rare books. There are modern first editions of iconic books, significant religious and theological works,and pioneering books of science and discovery. Our most expensive sale was a copy of Johann Bayer’s 1603 celestial atlas with 48 lavishly illustrated tables portraying the constellations identified by the Greeks and a 49th table showing 12 newly discovered constellations – it sold for $47,729. This was the first star atlas to cover the entire celestial sphere, and introduced a new system of star designation known as the ‘Bayer Designation.’
The second spot is occupied by one of the most successful media franchises in history, James Bond. When Ian Fleming first put pen to paper and wrote Casino Royale in 1953, there was no way he could have imagined the enduring popularity of 007. This inscribed first edition of Casino Royale sold for more than $46,000 and would grace any rare book collection.
In third place is Franz Kafka’s novel Die Verwandlung (aka The Metamorphosis), which sold for $30,000.The original German edition is highly sought after because of Kafka’s ability to deliver unexpected impact at the end of his sentences. This effect has been difficult for English translators to replicate so the original German script is essential for Kafka collectors.
In addition to the top 25 overall sales, you can also discover the most expensive sales in various categories including children's literature, art, science, poetry, and others.