The appeal of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia goes on and on. A set of first editions of the seven books in this classic children’s series sold for more than $8,000 in December, as 2009 ended in style for one particular collector. Who can forget those illustrations by Pauline Baynes? Even then, the Narnia books were not our top sale of the month; a collection of more than 200 German legal magazines took that honor with a hefty price-tag of $12,200. Another set of collectible magazines, 19 volumes of a German science magazine, also sold for substantial sums in December.
Elsewhere on the top 10 is Henri Matisse (a familiar face to anyone who inspects these lists on a regular basis), a monk’s 1779 account of London’s brothels (which is probably a highly entertaining read), a Frank Lloyd Wright monograph, a unique book from 1732 on medals in Holland, a modern 10-volume set describing the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and a signed first edition of John Grisham’s debut book for a cool $4,500 – not bad for a novel that’s not even 20 years old.
1. A collection of “Archiv für die civilistische Praxis” 1818-2008 - $12,200
A massive collection of 208 issues of the German legal magazine Archiv für die civilistische Praxis (which translates as The Archive for Civilian Practice)
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis - $8,132
All seven first edition volumes, published between 1950 and 1956, of this iconic children’s series.
3. Cinquante Dessins by Henri Matisse - $7,750
First edition signed, one of only a thousand copies to include an original etching of a woman’s face by Matisse.
4. Nocturnal Revels - $6,386
A fictional account of London’s brothels, conducted in lurid detail, purportedly by a "monk" of the burlesque order established at Medmenham Priory in the 1740s. A first edition published in 1779.
5. Physiologia Kircheriana Experimentalis by Athanasius Kircher - $6,268
A summary of the research by Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher, published shortly after his death by his pupil and colleague Johann Stephan Kestler.
6. Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph by Frank Lloyd Wright, et al - $5,850
A 12-volume monograph of the master of American architecture.
7. Description of Netherlands’ History of Medals by Gerald Van Loon - $5,500
Published in 1732 by the famous Dutch medal collector Gerald Van Loon, this book includes many finely engraved vignettes. There is an engraved dedication vignette, an engraved portrait of the author, engraved headpieces, tailpieces and hundreds of engravings of medals throughout the text.
8. Berichte Zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte - $5,417
A collection of 19 volumes from 1978 until 2006 of this German science magazine.
9. Records of the Hajj edited by A. Rush - $4,870
A documentary history of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca published in 10 volumes. There are extracts from Varthema, Burckhardt, Richard Burton and other travellers as well as interesting despatches prepared by diplomats and agents. Published in 1993.
10. A Time to Kill by John Grisham - $4,500
First edition of Grisham’s debut book, signed by the author.