AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales in November 2011
If he were alive today Karl Heinrich Marx would probably have something to say after learning that AbeBooks had sold a very rare copy of Das Kapital, in three volumes, for $51,739.
By far November’s most expensive sale on AbeBooks, Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie translates as Capital: Critique of Political Economy. The book is a critical analysis of capitalism and helped lay some of the foundations of the socialist economic model. Marx argued that working men and women were exploited, and many of the theories explored in his writing were adopted by labor movements. Of course, the book’s biggest impact came in Russia where the Tsarist regime censored it.
The book was published in three volumes – in 1867, 1885 and 1894. The last two volumes were published after Marx’s death in London in 1883.
Marx was one of the world’s great thinkers. Putting aside Communism, Marx’s writing had a huge impact on the field of social science. He wasn’t simply proclaiming his own opinions but spent huge amounts of time on research. He moved to London after being forced to flee Germany, France and Belgium, and the reading room at the British Museum was an important ingredient in his research.
He also wrote about the American Civil War, German and French politics, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte and the Jews. Marx’s tombstone in Highgate Cemetery says “Workers of all Lands Unite” (the final line of the Communist Manifesto). It would be two decades after his death before his legacy truly had an impact on world politics.
The sale of the three volumes is one of AbeBooks’ top 10 most expensive sales of all time.
The other major sales of the month include a rare set of magazines, a first edition of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a very limited edition of Crime and Punishment, and a Virginia Woolf letter.
Top 10 Most Expensive Sales in November 2011
- Das Kapital by Karl Marx - $51,739
First edition in three volumes, published in 1867, 1885 and 1894 - one of the most influential economic and political works of the 19th and 20th centuries.
- Complete Set of 10 issues of Aspen Magazine - $22,915
Ten issues of Aspen Magazine were published between 1965 and 1971 on an irregular schedule. The publication was described as the first “three dimensional magazine” with each issue coming in a customized box or folder with a variety of materials in different media formats including postcards, posters, movie reels, records, and booklets.
- Raccolta di Statue Antiche e Moderne data in luce sotto i Gloriosi Auspicj della Santità di N.S. Papa Clemente XI by De Rossi Domenico - $9,556
Published in 1704, this collection of engravings of ancient and modern Roman sculpture was one of the first 18th century art books and contains 160 plates as well as colored cuts. Noted antiquarian Paolo Alessandro Maffei assisted with the descriptive text.
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! By Dr. Seuss - $9,482
First edition, first impression copy of Seuss’ 1957 classic, including an inscription “For Stephanie - Best wishes - Dr. Seuss.”
- Walden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry D. Thoreau - $7,950
A first edition of Thoreau’s 1854 work in which he describes his time spent living in a cabin at Walden Pond. The book is considered to be partly a personal declaration of independence as well as a social experiment, a voyage of spiritual discovery, a satire, and a manual for self reliance.
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky - $6,600
This is the only signed and numbered edition of this book published in 2006 by Penguin. It was designed by FUEL and housed in a perspex box. Graphic designers Stephen Sorel and Damon Murray are the people behind FUEL and both have signed the book.
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - $5,500
Limited to 350 copies, this deluxe American first edition, published in 1988, was signed by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and housed in a slip case.
- De Mirabilibus Mundi by Solinus Gaius Julius - $5,200
“The Wonders of the World” was published in 1493 and is derived from the writings of Pomponius Mela and Pliny.
- Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story by Martin Luther King Jr. - $4,990
First edition, first Printing. Martin Luther King Jr. has signed on the front free endpaper. An important American Civil Rights book that details the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott organized by King. It reveals the logistics of the boycott, the threats against King and his philosophy of non violence.
- Autograph letter from Virginia Woolf to Clive Bell - $4,750
Dated July 7, 1929 and signed by Woolf, this 28-line letter in purple ink outlines social plans for an upcoming week. Bell was an art critic and a fellow member of the Bloomsbury Group. He married Woolf’s sister, Vanessa.
“About a variety of small matters. 1) Vita is going to be in London next Thursday. I was bold enough to say I thought you wouldn't mind if she looked in after dinner; but she is dining out, so would come late, if at all. 2) If I see Mary [Hutchinson] as is likely in the next week or so, do you wish me to say anything or nothing of your plans. 3) Entranced by the fine, or moderately fine weekend we think of coming here again on Saturday. Couldn't you come too? I warn you that the house is in the builder's hands, but we could provide a bed and plain food and could go over and see the Charlestonians and crack some jokes. And you would be driven in the Singer both ways. So consider it and let me know when we meet. We are just off to see old Birrell. [signed] yr [crossing out the initial misspelling of her own name-- which she has signed again] Virginia [and with her postscript] (age has come upon me and I can no longer sign my name).”
A Singer is a long defunct type of British car. Vita is, of course, Vita Sackville-West – the poet and author. Birrell was probably Frankie Birrell, the son of Augustine Birrell. Mary Hutchinson was a writer and patron of the arts, who became Clive Bell's lover.