The Most Expensive Signed Books Sold by AbeBooks
Books are always good but signed books are better. Signed books are plentiful in the modern world of publishing and bookselling thanks to author tours and busy promotional schedules that span the world. Major authors like Salman Rushdie and Ken Follett pride themselves on the massive number of books they sign at public appearances.
But authors are not always completely obliging. When Robert Heinlein appeared at the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in 1976, he refused to sign any books unless the book's owner presented their blood donor card. J.K. Rowling's signing events decreased as her fame increased.
There can be pleasant surprises. Stephen King was once spotted browsing shelves in a bookstore where he picked up several of his own books, signed them and placed them back on the shelf for an unsuspecting buyer to find. Some authors will add a personal message when signing a book. Some will add a drawing or doodle if they have artistic skills. Don’t forget the signature of the illustrator can add immense value when we’re talking about people like Pablo Picasso or Francis Bacon.
When buying signed books, it's important to know a couple things about bookseller terminology:
- The term "inscribed" means that the author has written a short note in addition to their signature;
- The term "flat signed" means the author has written their name and nothing else on the page;
- The term "autographed" does not mean signed but means that the document in question has been hand-written. So an "autographed manuscript" is a manuscript hand-written by the author.
Enjoy our list of most expensive signed books ever sold via AbeBooks. It includes two presidents, a prime minister, two photographers, a "relatively" famous scientist, the founder of psychoanalysis, a Beatle and many legendary writers.
$25,000 for a Signed First Edition of Where the Wild Things Are › Play Video
The Most Expensive Signed Books
1. Moby-Dick or, The Whale
by Herman Melville
Arion Press 1979 edition, signed by illustrator Barry Moser & includes 200 engravings and 10 drawings.
2= Where the Wild Things Are
by Maurice Sendak
Published in 1963, this signed first edition came with its first state dust jacket in fine condition.
2= To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
A signed first edition of Lee’s debut and only novel, signed “with best wishes Harper Lee”.
4. A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway
The limited edition of Hemingway's second novel - one of 510 numbered copies signed by the author.
5. Les Horribles et Espovantables Faictz et Prouesses
by François Rabelais
Signed by the illustrator André Derain with 142 hand-painted woodcuts.
6. Set of Harry Potter Novels
by J.K. Rowling
Deluxe edition copies of the first six Potter books – all signed by Rowling.
7= Mime of Mick Nick and the Maggies. A Fragment
by James Joyce
Complete with a fine condition dust jacket and signed by the author and his daughter Lucia.
7= The Hellbound Heart
by Clive Barker
The original manuscript for Barker’s novella that inspired the Hellraiser films. Signed by Barker.
7= Francis Bacon
by Michel Leiris
First edition signed by Bacon.
10= The Day of the Triffids
by John Wyndham
First impression of the first British edition published in 1951.
by Ian Fleming
Published in 1958 by Jonathan Cape, this true first edition was signed by Fleming.
12. The Dark Tower Series
by Stephen King
First edition copies of all seven volumes of the series, signed and numbered in a slipcase.
13. The Works
by Joseph Conrad
Published by Doubleday in 1920 over 24 volumes and signed by the author.
14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J.K. Rowling
First edition signed by Rowling and cover artist Cliff Wright.
15=Relativity: The Special And General Theory
by Albert Einstein
First American edition from 1920. Translated by Robert W. Lawson. Signed “A. Einstein. 46.”
15= Dreams From My Father
by Barack Obama
True first edition of this memoir signed by Obama on the title page.
15= Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
First edition of the book that inspired Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, published in 1968 and signed by Dick.
15=The Curse of Lono
by Hunter S Thompson
Printer’s proof copy. Signed by Thompson, Steadman and also Kurt Vonnegut.
19. Set of Harry Potter Novels
by J.K. Rowling
Complete set of deluxe edition Harry Potter novels, signed by Rowling ‘To Hugh’.
20. A Farewell to Arms
by Ernest Hemingway
1929 first edition, first printing of Hemingway’s classic signed by the author on a laid in signature.
21. I Me Mine
by George Harrison
Genesis Publications first edition from 1980. Limited to 2000 leather-bound copies & signed by Harrison.
by Helmut Newton
Massive book of photography – one of 10,000 copies signed by Newton.
23. Die Zukunft Einer Illusion
by Sigmund Freud
Second German edition from 1928 and signed by the author on the front free endpaper.
24. 40 Dessins de Picasso en Marge du Buffon
by Pablo Picasso
This 1957 edition was limited to 226 copies (this is No. 148) and signed by Picasso in green crayon.
25. Marlborough: His Life and Times
by Winston S. Churchill
Published between 1933-38, this signed set was limited to 155 copies (this being No. 111)
26. The Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint Exupery
This copy was #476 of 525 numbered copies signed by the author on the tipped-in limitation page.
27. Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell
A rare first edition from 1936 with Mitchell’s signature. The book has a unique ‘Southern Cross’ binding.
28. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
by Robert Heinlein
Signed by Heinlein above his name on title page and Virginia Heinlein signed below his name.
29. No Easy Walk To Freedom
by Nelson Mandela
Signed first edition of Mandela's account of the battle against apartheid.
30. Flower is….
by Robert Frank
Collection of 81 photos only published in Japan. Limited to 500 copies. Signed and dated by Frank.