Last month AbeBooks sold a pair of rare Mockingbirds. A signed first edition of To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee sold for a substantial $25,000 and an unsigned first edition of the same book went for $6,075. The signed first was easily the most expensive copy of Lee’s classic novel that has been sold via AbeBooks and also our most expensive sale of 2011 so far.
Published in 1960, To Kill A Mockingbird has enduring appeal for a variety of reasons. It’s considered to be a modern American masterpiece and the author never ‘watered down’ the book’s impact by writing anything else. The book also seems to return to the media headlines on a regular basis. The Oscar-winning movie version of the novel still has a following and the book is banned on a surprisingly regular basis in certain schools because of its use of the N-word. All these factors combine to ensure that this 51-year-old book has a remarkably high profile. And interest from collectors is as strong as ever. In December 2010, AbeBooks sold a signed first British edition for $8,500.
Also high up on the most expensive list this time around was a gorgeous 1936 first edition of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, which took third place, selling for $9,762. An illustrated 1876 first edition of Tom Sawyer went for $7,150, and a pair of rare Agatha Christie books also sold for high prices.
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee - $25,000
A signed first edition of Lee’s debut and only novel, signed “with best wishes Harper Lee”. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book.
2. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie - $9,836
A Collin’s first edition of Christie’s classic crime novel published in 1937 by the Crime Club.
3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - $9,762
A rare first edition from 1936 that includes Mitchell’s signature. The book has a unique ‘Southern Cross’ binding by R.Patron of Hollywood.
4. Ten Little Niggers by Agatha Christie - $9,500
First UK edition, and true first edition, copy from 1939 of Christie’s highly politically incorrect titled thriller which was renamed ‘And Then There Were None’ when it was published in the US.
5. Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - $7,150
First edition published in 1876 that includes early adverts dated December 1, 1876 and 160 illustrations.
6. Pompei: Pitture e Mosaici by Giuseppe Pugliese Caratelli - $6,333
Pompei: Pictures and Mosaics was published between 1990-1999 by the Institute for the Italian Encyclopaedia and contains about 11,000 illustrations, bound in 10 half leather volumes.
7. Dark Tower Limited Series by Stephen King - $6,300
A complete set of seven Dark Tower novels published from 1982 to 2004. Books II though VII are all limited editions (#159) in a slipcase with book I (Gunslinger) being a signed first trade edition.
8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - $6,075
First edition from 1960 bound by the Chelsea Bindery in crimson morocco.
9. El pa a la Barca by Joan Brossa - $5,669
A book of 22 prints and collages from the renowned Catalan poet, artist, and designer Joan Brossa i Cuervo, one of 110 numbered and signed copies.
10. Handwritten signed postcard by Hart Crane - $5,500
A postcard written by the American modernist poet Harold Hart Crane to his stepmother seven weeks before his suicide in 1932. The postcard features the altar in the "Cipres de Catedral Puebla Hernandez" in Mexico. On the reverse: "Dear Bess: This is the altar in the Cathedral in Puebla that I mentioned in my letter. Harold." Crane mentions that "Puebla is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen…the second largest cathedral on this continent whose interior blazes with enough gold railings and gold-leaf ornament to pay off German’s reparation debts."