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.
“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.