The most expensive books ever sold on AbeBooks do not compare to the highest prices for rare books sold at auction but these are still remarkable, especially when you consider that they are online purchases and the buyers did not have the opportunity to see the books in person.
The AbeBooks marketplace went live in the summer of 1996 and many of the world's finest booksellers list iconic rare books for sale on the site. There is considerable buzz in the company when a book priced more than $20,000 is sold and our monthly most expensive lists are among our most popular pages.
The Hobbit, Casino Royale and Das Kapital are household names having launched the fantasy genre, 007 and Marxism respectively. Some of the other titles on this list may not be so familiar but each one is significant.
How To Identify a First Edition Book › Play Video
1 = Areopagitica: A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicenc'd Printing To the Parliament of England by John Milton - $65,000
Published in 1644, this pamphlet by the author of the epic poem Paradise Lost defended the freedom of the Press as the British government suppressed their opponents' publications.
3.Der Naturforscher by J.E.I Walsh & J.D. Schreber - $60,321
Bound in 13 volumes and published between 1774 and 1804, this work deals with entomology, palaeozoology, mineralogy and geology, zoology and botany. Contains 143 folded engravings.
4 = Utopia De optimo reip. statu, deque nova insula by Sir Thomas More - $60,000
More became a Catholic martyr when Henry VIII beheaded him. This 1518 fourth edition outlines his ideal state, and pleads for religious tolerance and universal education.
4 = Poems with elegies on the author's death by John Donne - $60,000
Little written by Donne appeared in print in his lifetime but hundreds of manuscript copies were circulated by hand. This 1633 first edition was the first collection of his poems.
6. Historical, Military, and Picturesque Observations on Portugal by Lt.-Col George Thomas Landmann - $57,500
This 1818 first edition is described as "the most beautiful illustrated English book on Portugal of the period." Landmann fought in the Peninsular War, and his book details sieges and battles.
7. Das Kapital by Karl Marx - $51,739
First edition in three volumes, published in 1867, 1885 and 1894 - one of the most influential economic and political works of the 19th and 20th centuries.
8. Uranometria, Omnium Asterismorum Continens Schemata, Nova Methodo Delineata, Sereis Laminis Expressa by Johann Bayer - $47,729
A rare piece of astronomical history from 1603 - a first edition of the most famous celestial atlas of all with 48 lavishly illustrated tables portraying the constellations identified by the Greeks and a 49th table showing 12 newly discovered constellations. The book has the coat of arms of a Venetian family on both covers and a monastery stamp on its title page. The title translates as 'Uranometria, containing charts of all the constellations, drawn by a new method and engraved on copper plates' and 'Uranometria' comes from Urania, the muse of the heavens.
9. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming - $46,453
Signed first edition of the 1953 Jonathan Cape publication of Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel; this copy has also been inscribed by Fleming "To/ _____ ______/Something for the/flight/from the author".
10. Arabic Manuscript of Al Wajaza Fi Sihhat Il Qawl Bi l Ijaza - $45,000
This is an important work on Hadith methodology (narrations concerning the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) that was originally written in the 10th century AD. This copy was published in the 12th-13th century A.D. and contained an ownership mark on the title page from a well-known scholar called Ibrahim B. Sulleymanb Muhammad B. Abd Ul Aziz Al Hanafi Al Jinini, who bought it while living in Damascus in 1659 A.D.