In the opening month of 2012 our most expensive sales picked up where they left off in 2011 with another landmark rare book sale. This time an inscribed first edition of Ian Fleming’s debut James Bond novel, Casino Royale, has sold for $46,453, easily taking the top spot on the list.
The book, which started the 007 franchise, is considered by many as one of the most desirable of modern first editions. This is in part because the James Bond phenomenon has become so incredibly popular over the years. But perhaps more importantly, fewer than 5,000 copies of the Jonathan Cape UK first edition were ever printed (just over 4,700, actually) and many of those copies went to libraries, with the remainder selling out in less than a month before a second print run was issued.
The copy we sold in January was described as being in near fine condition with a small closed tear to the rear panel, a little rubbing to the spine tips, and light soiling to the rear panel. When it was first published in 1953, this hardcover was sold for 10 shillings and six pence – what a fantastic investment if you had picked one up in the early days and kept it safe.
Rounding out the list we find a a 16th-century illuminated manuscript, a first edition of Brave New World complete with Huxley's signature and inscription, a 15-volume set of Proust's epic A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), and much more.
6. A La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust - $5,876
Published between 1918 and 1927 in 15 volumes all of which were first edition except From Swann's Way, which was the 1919 edition and In the Shadow of Young Girls in Bloom which was a third edition.
7. Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire - $5,502
First edition published in 1857 containing the telltale printing errors including page 45 being numbered as page 44, as well as "Feurs" in the headline on pages 31 and 108.
8. Bergomatis Lexicon by Ambrogio Calepino - $5,237
New edition of this remarkable dictionary of the Latin language that contains locutions of the most noteworthy authors, as well as information on the meaning of philosophical terms, as they pertained to the great thinkers of the time.
9. Voyages Pittoresques et Romantiques dans L'Ancienne France by C. Nodier & J. Taylor - $5,089
Two volumes published between 1820 and 1825 containing 235 full-page plates of an illustrated tour of Old France.
10. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - $5,000
This was the first appearance of Dostoyevsky’s classic in English, published by Thomas Y. Crowell in 1886; first US edition.