The appearance of another rare copy of The Hobbit on AbeBooks’ monthly list of most expensive sales is no surprise. Few books have combined such enduring popular appeal with enduring collectability like The Hobbit. AbeBooks has sold 20 copies of this book priced at more than $1,000 since we began keeping these types of records. Last month’s Hobbit may have been a later edition, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s signature made this copy very attractive. Tolkien died in 1973 but his legacy lives on.
The Bonefish Brigade by American 'Western' novelist Zane Grey is a self-published book where Grey makes fun of himself and his Florida fishing friends. Copies are very rare. Grey loved fishing and even travelled to Australia and New Zealand in search of big catches. He even wrote a book called An American Angler in Australia.
AbeBooks often sells expensive ephemera but the sale of Harry Clarke’s pen, ink and paint is unusual. Clarke (1889-1931), an Irish artist and illustrator, was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement. He is known for his illustrations in Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. His work is very collectible.
1. The Scots Musical Museum by James Johnson - $8,500
The pivotal collection of Scottish music compiled by Johnson with contributions, both musically and editorially, by Robert Burns - published in 1792 as four volumes, this bound in two. The collection gained international recognition after arrangements by Haydn and Beethoven.
2. Oeuvres by Pierre de Ronsard - $7,435
The complete first volume of the first edition of Ronsard's poetry; bound with an incomplete copy of the second volume and the preliminary matter of the third volume. Ronsard (1524-1585) was known as the Prince of Poets in his native France. Published in Paris in 1560.
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - $6,500
A signed second edition (printed in 1956) of Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece.
4. The Bonefish Brigade by Zane Grey - $5,000
Privately published in 1922, this was a special edition with “Christmas Greetings” and a candle design printed in red and green on the upper cover. This was Zane Grey’s personal copy with his library blind-stamp on the front free endpaper.
5. Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer; Frank Lloyd Wright; Yukio Futagawa - $4,500
The complete 12-volume monograph of Wright’s work. Published 1984, first American edition.
6. Original pen, ink, and water-color used for the dust wrapper of The Fairy Tales of Perrault by Harry Clarke - $4,500
Clarke’s set of pen, ink and water-color used to create the intricate dust cover for The Fairy Tales of Perrault.
7. Historia De Las Indias by Bartolomé de las Casas - $4,321
The Complete History of the Indies as written by the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, Bartolomé de las Casas which documents his campaign for the rights of Native Americans as well as his favouring, and later bitterly opposing the importing of African slaves.
8. The first tome or volume of the Paraphrases of Erasmus vpon the newe testament : conteinyng the fower Euangelistes, with the Actes of the Apostles by Desiderius Erasmus - $4,187
Erasmus' (d. 1536) famous paraphrase of the New Testament was ordered to be placed in all churches with the Great Bible during the reign of Edward VI. His successor, Mary I, consequently ordered all copies to be destroyed, which accounts for its rarity. This was a second edition from 1551.
9. XCVI. Sermons by The Right Honourable, and Reverend Father in God, Lancelot Andrewes, Late Lord Bishop of Winchester By Richard Badger - $4,000
96 sermons by Andrewes. This was a second edition published in 1632. Andrewes was among the most learned of churchmen of his lifetime (1555-1626). He was also an important member of the scholars that created the King James translation of the Bible.
10. Green Hills of Africa by Ernest Hemingway - $3,750
First edition, first printing published in 1935. Green Hills of Africa was Hemingway’s second non-fiction book and is a journal of an East African safari taken by the author and his wife in 1933.