Most Expensive Sales in September 2013
Three very different books are perched at the top of our list - they describe respectively man's easy descent into savagery, a fruit pickers' strike in California and the memories of a scientist who helped popularize physics. You all know Lord of the Flies by William Golding. In Dubious Battle is the first book in John Steinbeck's Dustbowl trilogy that also includes Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" Adventures of a Curious Character is collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman.
The Golding book is a signed presentation copy from the author to Angharad Ryder. It was sold by Addyman Books located in that bookselling mecca of Hay-on-Wye. We'll let Anne Brichto from Addyman take over from here: "Angharad's profession was teaching and she did this well enough to end up as the head of a private girl's school on the south coast of England. In her leisure time she learned to fly light aircraft which she adored but over and above all this she was a book collector of the highest order.
"If she liked an author she would have every one of their works, in first edition in wrappers. She was ahead of her time in recognizing the extra value of a signed first edition. In order to get signatures from authors, she wrote letters. I wish we could see some of these letters as they were obviously very good when you read the responses. The replies from J.G. Ballard and John Fowles had a flirtatious tone. Fowles mentioned in one letter how much he would like to meet her.
"Angharad's authors included Iris Murdoch, Margaret Drabble, Marina Warner, Fowles, Ballard and Golding. She never met any of them but the correspondences stretched over years and included Christmas cards from the authors.
"When we met Ms Ryder, she was a graceful 80-year-old, a petite and well-spoken lady, and her eyes were filled with sparkle and humor. She had retired to France and made the long trip to Hay-on-Wye to sell her collection to the bookshop that most appreciated the work that had gone into it. We were grateful she chose us."
10 Facts About Lord of the Flies › Play Video
September's Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks
1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding - $19,877
A 1954 first edition with its dust jacket. Written under the text of the half-title "for Angharad Ryder from William Golding with best wishes." Loosely inserted is a hand-written envelope from Golding with a hand-written postcard inside, "Dear Miss Rhyder, Yes Lord of the Flies is the alleged translation of Beelzebub. I will sign your Nobel Speech if you send it. Yours sincerely William Golding." Also included are two hand-written letters from Golding to Rhyder.
2. In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck - $15,000
A 1936 signed first edition with its dust jacket. One of the great social justice novels of the 20th century, detailing a fruit pickers' strike. This is a family copy, inscribed by the author to his sister Elizabeth and her husband Gene, with his sister's bookplate.
3. Original Personal Handwritten Manuscript Grimoire by Persephone Adrastea Eirene - $13,865
Two spiral-bound books of spells handwritten in the 1960s by a high priestess of Wicca called Persephone Adrastea Eirene, an American witch of Swedish and English ancestry who led her own coven.
4. "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman - $12,500
A 1965 first edition signed by Feynman and his co-author Ralph Leighton. The book varies from light-hearted musing to serious analysis of Feynman's work on the development of the first atomic bomb.
5. Codex Manesse. Manessesche Liederhandschrift - $8,579
A medieval songbook containing German poetry from the 14th century produced in Zurich for the Manesse family, a prominent Swiss family from the area. Most of the poems are Minnesang - a type of lyrical poetry. Published in 1925-1927, this is a color facsimile of the manuscript in the library of the University of Heidelberg. The poets include a holy roman emperor, kings, dukes and counts.
6. Opera Omnia (Complete Works of St. Augustine) edited by Desiderius Erasmus - $7,900
Published in 1569 in 10 parts and an index in four volumes. The second reprint of the 1528-1529 edition, the first complete collected work edited by St. Augustine and published by Froben who hired the Renaissance humanist, Erasmus as editor. Bound in dark brown pigskin. St Augustine was an early Christian theologian whose writings were influential in the development of Christianity.
7. Cosmographia. Beschreibung aller Lender by Sebastian Münster - $7,263
Published in 1544, Cosmographia was one of the earliest German language descriptions of the world.
8. The Man with the Golden Gun by Ian Fleming - $7,250
A first edition with the famous golden gun embossed on the front board. Only 150 first state copies are believed to have been produced. The dust jacket is price clipped. This 007 novel was published in April 1965, eight months after the author's death.
9. Principes Mathématiques de la Philosophie Naturelle by Marquise du Chatelet - $7,140
Published in 1759, this is the first French translation of PhilosophiŠ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton - one of the most important books in the history of science.
10. Historia Genealogica da Casa Real Portuguese by Antonio Caetano de Sousa - $6,761
Published in 1946-1955, 26 volumes, a genealogical history of the royal Portuguese household. The work was dedicated to King John V, who commissioned the work. First printed in 1735.