AbeBooks' Top 10 Most Expensive Sales in September 2011
Last month’s top 10 sales were an interesting cross-section of art books, scholarly works, and modern firsts; which coincidentally make up the top three sales. At the top of the list, selling for a shade over $14,000 is an eight-volume art catalog featuring ancient representations of mythology in the “plastic arts”; a now largely forgotten term which defines all visual arts.
The second most expensive sale was for an original work from Swiss biologist Friedrich Miescher, who has been credited with isolating and identifying nucleic acid paving the way for the identification of DNA as the carrier of inheritance. And rounding out the top three is a signed first edition copy of Ken Kesey’s 1962 classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest which sold for $9,000.
Other interesting entries included The Enormous Room by e.e. cummings, Cover Her Face by P.D. James (we sold an $8,500 copy of this book in August), Lord Tyger by Philip Jose Farmer, and another Kesey title, Sometimes a Great Notion.
September's Most Expensive Sales
1. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae - $14,067
An eight-volume work cataloguing representations of mythology in the plastic arts (ie: architecture, ceramics, collage, conceptual art, drawing, glass art, land art, metalworking, mosaic, painting, paper art among others) of antiquity
2. Ueber die chemische Zusammensetzung der Eiterzellen by Johann Friedrich Miescher - $9,500
First edition copy, from 1871, of one of the earliest contributions to what would eventually be called molecular biology. Miescher's first and most important discovery was a new class of compounds rich in organic phosphorus and forming the major constituent of cell nuclei. He rightly concluded that these ‘nucleins,’ as he called them, were as important a center of metabolic activity as proteins (DSB). Miescher's ‘nuclein’ was later demonstrated to be the hereditary genetic material (that’s DNA). He also was the first to suggest the existence of a genetic code.
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey - $9,000
A true first edition published in 1962 by Viking Press, signed by the author.
4. Thirteen Portraits of American Legislators, Patriots, and Soldiers Who Distinguished Themselves in Rendering Their Country Independent by Pierre Du Simitiere- $7,500
Published first in Paris and then in London 1783 (this edition), these famous portraits include the rare plate of Benedict Arnold, later not included. It is the only likeness of Arnold drawn from life, probably in Philadelphia in 1779 when he was military governor.
5. Dessins. Themes et Variations by Henri Matisse - $5,750
First edition, limited to 950 copies, published in 1943. Containing a full-page original linocut by Matisse, three small in-text original lithographs and 158 plates produced in lithography after drawings by Matisse as well as an introductory text by Louis Aragon and a poem by Tristan Tzara.
6. Cover Her Face by P.D. James - $5,134
First edition copy in near fine condition published in 1962 by Faber. This book marks the debut of chief inspector Dalgliesh.
7= Lord Tyger by Philip Jose Farmer - $5,000
A fascinating group of materials for Lord Tyger showing the creation of the book from genesis to completed manuscript including Farmer's original hand-written notes, the outline for proposal to the publisher, a rough first draft, the final manuscript, and a first edition of the Signet paperback.
7= The Enormous Room by ee cummings - $5,000
First signed edition published in 1922 by Boni and Liveright. This copy includes the uncensored ‘Shit!’ on the last line of page 219. The Enormous Room is an autobiographical novel about cumming’s imprisonment in France by the French during World War I.
9. Malleus Maleficarum by Henry Kramer and Jacobus Sprenger - $4,501
A copy of the 1576 edition of the infamous treatise on witches that was written in an attempt to refute arguments claiming witchcraft did not exist.
10. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey - $4,500
Signed first edition of Kesey’s second novel published in 1964.