Last month's most expensive sales on AbeBooks were eye-catching, cosmopolitan and substantial. A rare limited edition book featuring the artwork of Pablo Picasso and the poetry of Jean Cocteau catches the eye, as does a lush collection of German-Swiss painter Paul Klee's work with 850 color plates. The cosmopolitan feel comes from a couple of rare items that originated from Paris – an early incarnation of a classic Victor Hugo novel and an early decorated map of the city. One of the substantial purchases on our list was a 57-volume set of leather-bound science fiction novels published by Easton Press.
Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical by Henry Gray is, of course, Gray's Anatomy as the book's title is commonly shortened to this. This book is legendary in the medical world and is still going strong - the 40th British edition was published as recently as 2008. Gray was just 34 when he died in 1861. The accurate illustrations of Henry Vandyke Carter were vital to this textbook's success as a teaching aide.
The sale of a third edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species ensures that this famous book makes yet another appearance on an AbeBooks' monthly most expensive list.
1. The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, Bulletin (vols 1-71) - $7,091
Founded by Johan Gunnar Andersson in 1929, this journal publishes articles by scholars on all aspects of ancient and classical East Asia and adjacent regions, including archaeology, art, and architecture ,history and philosophy, literature and linguistics, and related fields.
2. Picasso de 1916 à 1961 by Jean Cocteau - $5,932
Published in 1962 by Rocher of Monaco, this book is signed in pencil by Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. It contains 24 lithographs drawn by Picasso. One of 255 copies. Pierre Bertrand, who was Cocteau's publisher, collected 11 of the poet's texts reflecting his friendship with Picasso.
3. Masterpieces of Science Fiction (57 vols) - $5,900
Bound in leather and published by Easton Press, this collection of science fiction contains many of the genre's most important books including A Canticle for Liebowitz; Dandelion Wine; The Day of the Triffids, Dune; The Foundation Trilogy, The Moon and the Sun, and The Time Machine.
4. Paul Klee: Catalogue Raisonne (Vols 1-9) Paul Klee, et al. - $5,500
Published by Thames & Hudson, this collection of Klee’s work contains more 5,000 pages, over 8,500 illustrations and 850 color plates, and apparently took 10 years of research to put together. Klee (1879-1940) is one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Volume III is devoted to Klee’s Bauhaus period (1919-1922) and includes many of his best known art such as masks, clowns, acrobats and ballet dancers.
5. Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical by Henry Gray - $5,000
Published in 1858 by John W. Parker and Son, this first edition, first printing, sold out very quickly and was reprinted many times. It features 363 detailed anatomical drawings by Henry Vandyke Carter. Embossed cloth binding with a gilt-lettered spine.
6. Neuvieme Plan de Paris Ses Accroissements sous le Regne de Louis XV by L'Abbe Delagrive - $4,500
Published around 1737, this is an extensively decorated map of Paris and its suburbs during the reign of Louis XV, who ascended to the throne at age five. It features an illustration of the Roman goddess Minerva with winged putti (male babies with wings), a wreathed shield of the Ile de France, and a depiction of Mercury passing a serpent-decorated gold sceptre to the Minerva.
7= Japoniae Insulae Descriptio Ludoico Teisera Auctore - $4,250
A beautiful 1598 map of Japan drawn by the Portuguese Jesuit cartographer Luiz Teixeira in pink, yellow, green and blue. This was the first map of Japan to appear in a western atlas. It also shows parts of Korea and China. The map is an important milestone in cartography of the Japanese islands and surprisingly accurate – it was used until 1655.
7= Biblia Sacra Latina - $4,250
A facsimile copy of the Gutenberg Bible printed in 1985 in two volumes and bound in full dark faux calf. Bibliographer Francois Guillaume de Bure discovered the original copy of this book in Cardinal Mazarin's library hundreds of years after Gutenberg’s death. Mazarin was France’s chief minister of France from 1642 to 1661 and a noted collector. Mazarin’s personal library was the basis for Bibliothèque Mazarine - France’s oldest public library.
9. Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo - $4,196
Otherwise known as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this book (whose title translates as ‘Our Lady of Paris) is the famous illustrated 1844 edition with an ivy green morocco binding.
10. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin - $4,033
The third edition of his historic book printed by John Murray in 1861 and rebound by the Chelsea Bindery in dark green morocco. This edition contained extensive updates from the second.