Bookshelves of the Rich and Famous
If you were wealthy and famous, what would your library look like? There would probably be similar books to the ones you already own except they would be worth more. Never mind that old paperback of The Hobbit, you would have the true first edition signed by John Ronald Reuel himself.
Dare to dream as we showcase some of the rare (and very expensive) treasures available on AbeBooks.
Please note: prices are approximate to within a small margin, as currencies fluctuate. Quantity on rare books extremely limited; copies on display may sell quickly.
An 18th Century Library of Books Recommended by Jefferson for an American Gentleman, as described in a letter to Robert Skipwith
This magnificent collection was assembled according to Thomas Jefferson's recommendations in his famous letter to his future brother-in-law Skipwith. It comprises more than 90% of that list, virtually all in period bindings and significant editions published in or before 1771, the year of the letter. There's Don Quixote, Paradise Lost, Canterbury Tales, Tristram Shandy, Pope's translation of Homer, Dryden's translation of Virgil and the works of Shakespeare, Swift, Voltaire, Moliere and more.
The most heavily printed (6.5 billion copies) title of the 20th century, the Little Red Book (real title Quotations from Chairman Mao) was required reading in China. This is an unrivalled collection of 497 vintage Little Red Books produced for various military and civil positions during the lifetime of Mao Tse-Tung, including translations into 40 languages. Ideal for a successful capitalist obsessed with communism.
After Abraham Lincoln's 1860 presidential win, the South Carolina General Assembly called for a 'Convention of the People of South Carolina' to draw up an Ordinance of Secession, and from this secession vote a further call to 'To the People of the Slaveholding States of the United States.'
One of the most famous children’s stories ever written, this is a first edition privately printed by the author in 1901. Only 250 copies were issued so this one of the rarest children’s books ever printed. A book that would not be handed over to a child.
This copy of Dryden’s most important work is unique because it was inscribed to Virginia Woolf by T.S. Eliot on the front free endpaper, "For Virginia Woolf from T. S. Eliot,” the book also contains Eliot’s own Dialogue on Poetic Drama making this one of the most amazing association copies.
Published in 1951 but still a staple in high school English curriculums, The Catcher in the Rye became such a success that it drove Salinger to become a recluse. Signed copies of this landmark novel are very, very, very rare and very, very, very expensive.
One of the most important authors in modern literature, this Joyce collection includes first edition copies of Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922 and a signed limited edition of 1936) and limited edition, signed Finnegans Wake (1939) and others.
The teenage Shelley helped create the horror genre with this novel. A first edition in three volumes.
John James Audubon
Audubon’s Birds of America is the bible for birders. This octavo edition contains 500 hand-colored lithographic plates. The original publication has been thought to have cost more than $100,000 to publish in the 1800s, so a copy for $175,000 is an absolute bargain.
Beckett's first novel is recognized as one of the great comic novels but only 1,500 copies printed and 800 of them were remaindered as a cut-price edition in a coarse cloth binding. This edition was one of the few to posses the smooth green cloth binding with gilt titles.
A 1929 first edition, first printing of Crowley’s fictional novel in which many of his acquaintances appear as thinly disguised characters. This copy features notes by Crowley relating to real life events that inspired parts of the story. One of only 2,500 copies.
Every house needs a dictionary but now you can have the first American dictionary. Published in 1828, this is the first edition featuring 70,000 words and was limited to 2,500 copies. This dictionary was Webster's first attempt to separate American and British English and put correct spelling at the fingertips of ordinary Americans.
The most famous scientific equation of the 20th century was defined in this work, the first American edition, published in 1920 including Einstein’s signature in full; housed in a cloth slipcase with the historical E=mc2 equation embossed in relief on the side. If you’re looking to be a little more frugal, a signed second edition can be bought for just $38,500
This first edition of the 2003 biography is signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Charlie Watts. A magical piece of pop culture.
A first edition from 1897, this copy is not only in beautiful condition but inscribed "To F. Vincent from Bram Stoker 11.10.97." Too expensive for most Twilight fans.
The original typesetting document with holograph ink corrections and instructions for the first edition of the author's second book, the middle volume of the Sprawl trilogy preceded by Neuromancer and followed by Mona Lisa Overdrive.