AbeBooks' Top 10 Most Expensive Sales in August 2011
August's top sales on AbeBooks includes several household names. Ian Fleming and his sixth James Bond novel, Dr. No, appears alongside P.D. James and her first Adam Dalgliesh novel, Cover Her Face. Edward Gorey also slides onto the top 10 with his 15-work collection of strangely dark writing and illustration, Amphigorey.
However, French poet Charles Baudelaire tops the list with his controversial first collection of poems, Les Fleurs du Mal, which sold for almost $15,000. "The Flowers of Evil" was initially published in 1857 and met with staunch criticism for its decadence and eroticism. French authorities under Napoleon III described the book as an insult to public decency. The majority of complaints revolved around six poems that included Lesbos and Métamorphoses du Vampire.
Baudelaire was fined 300 francs and his controversial six poems were banned. The ban was not lifted in France until 1949. In 1861, a second edition was printed with 32 poems replacing the original half dozen. In addition to being a poet, Baudelaire was an art critic and is noted for being a pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe's work.
Dr No was published in 1958 and became a Sean Connery movie in 1962. P.D. James has penned 14 novels starring poetry-writing Adam Dalgliesh and the series is a classic example of British detective fiction.
August's Most Expensive Sales
1. Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire - $14,925
This first edition of "The Flowers of Evil" was published in 1857 and was Baudelaire's first and most famous volume of poems. The work is of historical significance because French authorities under Napoleon III prosecuted both Baudelaire and his publisher. Six poems were suppressed. The second and third editions were published 1861 and 1868 without the banned poems.
2. Dr. No by Ian Fleming - $14,500
Published in 1958 by Jonathan Cape, this true first edition was signed by Fleming.
3. L'Office de la Semaine Santé: Dedié a la Reine, Pour L'Usage de sa Maison - $12,237
Written by the son of Louis XV and the father of Louis XVI and bound by Pierre-Paul Dubuisson, this 1752 copy was passed from the Austrian Imperial family to the Habsburg family through marriage between Blanca de Castilla de Borbón and Archduke Leopold Salvator.
4= Cover Her Face by P.D. James - $8,500
A signed first edition, with an intact dust jacket, of James' debut book; which was also the first book in her Adam Dalgliesh series.
4=Amphigorey by Edward Gorey - $8,500
A collection of 15 works by Gorey from 1972. The set was limited to 50 signed copies and contained an original watercolor. The 15 titles are The Unstrung Harp, The Listing Attic, The Doubtful Guest, The Object Lesson, The Bug Book, The Fatal Lozenge, The Hapless Child, The Curious Sofa, The Willowdale Handcar, The Gashlycrumb Tinies, The Insect God, The West Wing, The Wuggily Ump, The Sinking Spell and The Remembered Visit.
6. Vom Bergwerck XII by Georgius Agricola - $7,500
Agricola was a German scholar and the father of mineralogy. Vom Bergwerck means 'From the Mine'. This is rare German edition of Agricola's classic work. Published in 1556 in Latin, it was the first systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy, and is basically an early technology book. It embraces everything connected with mining and metallurgical processes, including administration, prospecting, the duties of officials and companies and the manufacture of glass. The German edition was published in 1557 and is very scarce.
7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - $6,105
Complete set of UK first editions published by George Allen & Unwin. As all collectors of fantasy know, the three volumes are The Fellowship of the Ring (July 1954), The Two Towers (November 1954), and The Return of the King (October 1955).
8. Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy - $6,000
A signed first edition of JFK's 1956 Pulitzer Prize-winning book that described the acts of bravery by eight United States senators. A photo of Kennedy and the previous owner together when the book was signed authenticates the signature of the former president. This book did for Kennedy what Dreams from My Father did for Barack Obama.
9. Byrth, Lyf, and Actes of Kyng Arthur; of His Noble Knyghtes of the Rounde Table, Theyr Merveyllous Enquestes and Adventures by Thomas Malory - $5,980
Published in 1817, this first edition of Arthurian legend is one of the extremely scarce large paper edition of 50 copies. The book contains an introduction by Robert Southey.
10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - $5,500
A true first edition of Huxley’s opus published in 1932. This copy was signed and inscribed by the author in 1938.