Some famous English tales from the 14th century, a paper about nerves in crayfish signed by a certain Austrian psychoanalyst, a 2,400-year-old play about sexual politics combined with some modern art, some French poetry praising lesbian love, a mammoth Arab dictionary, some spiritual art from Tibet, and - as always - a rare copy of On The Origin of Species. These collectible gems, and others, are featured on our list of most expensive sales on AbeBooks during August 2009 - once again, it′s the most unique list in the bookselling business.
1. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer - $9,250
Chaucer′s opus printed by Golden Cockerel Press in four volumes from 1928-1931, bound by Sangorski & Sutcliff - limited to 500 copies.
2. Über den Bau der Nervenfasern und Nervenzellen beim Flusskrebs - by Sigmund Freud - $8,500
Published in 1881 this paper, about the construction of the nerve fibres and nerve cells in crayfish, was inscribed by Freud in French to Professor Louis-Antoine Ranvier.
3. On The Origin of Species - by Charles Darwin - $4,693
Second edition, second issue published in 1860.
4. Lysistrata - by Aristophanes - $4,500
Published in 1934, this is a limited edition, #913 of 1,500 copies, which includes six full page etchings by Pablo Picasso, who signed the colophon page by Picasso. Lysistrata is a battle of the sexes where Greek women withhold sex from their husbands in order to force them to end an war.
5. Les Amies - by Paul Verlaine - $4,175
First edition of Verlaine′s first collection erotic verse praising lesbian love, limited to 50 copies and published 1868.
6. Taj Al Arus Min Jawahir Al Qamus - by Murtada Al Zabidi - $4,000
A copy of the largest Arabic language dictionary ever created. Written in 40 volumes, the set was researched from 1965 to 2001 and is bound in leather.
7. Museum Museorum by Michael Bernhard Valentini - $4,000
Published in 1714, this set includes the first two of three volumes. The volumes are considered to be some of the most valuable contributions to early documentation of animals, minerals, fossils, plants and their uses.
8. Collected Works in the Verse and Prose by W. B. Yeats - $3,925
Published in 1908 in eight volumes. Imprinted at the Shakespeare Head Press.
9. Tibet Mandalas: The Ngor Collections - by bSod nams rgya mtsho - $3,850
First edition published in 1983 in two volumes, the first with 136 color plates and the second with explanatory text. A mandala is a concentric diagram with spiritual significance, particularly to Buddhists. These particular volumes offer esoteric tantric knowledge to the reader and originated from the Ngor Monastery.
10. The Naturalist on the River Amazons - by Henry Walter Bates- $3,800
A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the Equator during 11 years of travel. First edition published 1863.