Rare and Collectible Books


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Even during national poetry month, we all to often hear there is little demand for poetry from today’s readers. But in the world of rare books, poets are revered by bibliophiles and collectors, and AbeBooks regularly sells examples of their finest work for four-figure prices. T.S. Eliot, Wilfred Owen, Charles Bukowski, Robert Frost and many other famous poetic names from the 20th century are in steady demand, while Robert Burns, William Blake, Lord Bryon, John Keats and William Wordsworth ensure 19th century poetry is not forgotten. And then there is Shakespeare and the two Johns – Milton and Donne.

From haikus to epics, from limericks to sonnets, from strict rhyme schemes to free verse, poetry is a vast genre covering countless subjects. Dip into the world of collectible poetry and also discover the 10 most expensive poetry books ever sold by AbeBooks.

Fantastic First Editions

AbeBooks' Top 10 Most Expensive Poetry Sales

Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems by John Keats

1. = Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems
John Keats

Sold for: $8,500

First edition published in 1820, the book is Keats' third and last book.

First Edition
All Copies

Poems, 1909 - 1925 by T.S. Eliot

1. = Poems, 1909 - 1925
T.S. Eliot

Sold for: $8,500

First edition, one of 85 copies numbered and signed by Eliot. The limited edition has a plain cream buckram binding and contains many of the poet's canonical works. Pictured is the general 1925 first edition which is not signed.

First Edition
All Copies
Poems by Wilfred Owen

3. Poems
Wilfred Owen

Sold for: $8,460

First edition with an introduction by fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon. Included in this copy was a note by Miss M.M.C. Rayner, who tutored Owen.

First Edition
All Copies
The New Creatures by Jim Morrison

4. The New Creatures
Jim Morrison

Sold for: $7,500

A limited edition of poetry - one of two self-published books from the lead singer of The Doors that had just 100 copies of each.

First Edition
All Copies
Tibullus cum commentariis Cyllænii Veronensis by Tibullus, Catullus and Propertius

5. Tibullus cum commentariis Cyllænii Veronensis
Tibullus, Catullus and Propertius

Sold for: $6,527

Published in 1500, this tome includes the collected works of three of the famous Latin love poets.

All books by Tibullus
Selected Poems by Ezra Pound

6. Selected Poems
Ezra Pound

Sold for: $6,050

First edition, limited to 100 copies, signed by Pound and hand numbered (this was No.3). The poems were selected and edited by T.S Eliot to be published in 1928.

First Edition
All Copies

Divina Commedia of Dante Alighieri

7. Divina Commedia
Dante Alighieri

Sold for: $6,000

First edition of the first translation of Dante's Divine Comedy into English. Also contains preliminary essays and notes by the Reverend Henry Boyd.

First Edition
All Copies
Poemes by Charles d'Orleans

8. Poemes
Charles d'Orleans

Sold for: $5,866

Charles of Valois (1394-1465) became the Duke of Orléans in 1407 but is best remembered for writing poetry as a prisoner of war. This book of his poetry was published in 1950 as a limited edition with 100 original lithographs by Matisse, only 1,230 copies were printed.

Matisse copies

Lyrical Ballads with other Poems Vol. 1 by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

9. Lyrical Ballads, with other Poems Vol. 1
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sold for: $5,410

First edition from 1800 of Wordsworth’s collection of poems, which included The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as well as the famous preface, the Manifesto of the Romantic Movement.

First Edition
All Copies

The Collected Poems by D.H. Lawrence

10. The Collected Poems
D.H. Lawrence

Sold for: $4,893

A limited first edition, one of 100 numbered copies signed by Lawrence. This 1928 two-volume collection comes with a cream dust jacket that is especially prone to wear making fine copies highly desirable. (The 1932 UK first edition is pictured)

First Edition
All Copies


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