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Natural science to curses and a hotel: AbeBooks’ most expensive sales of 2013

As another year of rare bookselling comes to an end, we can offer our most expensive sales of 2013. A German natural science book from 1774, Der Naturforscher, sold for $60,321, to head the list and become AbeBooks’ third most expensive sale ever in our history.

Also on the list are four rare bibles, Shakespeare’s works in French, photography of Tibet, Emily Dickinson, J.K. Rowling, Winston Churchill, Frank Herbert, and one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

You will also find two handwritten spell-books or grimoires to give them the correct Wiccan name. Naturally, they were cursed.

My favorite sale of the year was a guest book from the Castello Bar at the Castle Schloss Mondsee near Salzburg, Austria, which sold for $11,900.  Castle Schloss Mondsee, now a posh hotel, began life as a Benedictine abbey and was founded in 748. This book is full of famous signatures, including Burt Lancaster, Greta Garbo, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

It belonged to an Austrian aristocrat, Countess Micheline Almeida (1911-2000), whose family used to own the property and she clearly hosted the rich and famous when they visited the area.

Bound in red leather, the guest book  even features some bars of music for the song, The Hills are Alive, from The Sound of Music, which was filmed in and around Salzburg in 1964. The book has been signed by the movie’s director Robert Wise, and the stars, Plummer and Andrews, and dated April and May 1964.

Other signatures include actor Tony Curtis, socialite Brooke Astor, boxer Gene Tunney, actress Natalie Wood, actor Jack Lemmon, poet W. H. Auden, comedian Peter Sellers, British politician Harold Wilson, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (who added a sketch), opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa, motor racing driver Niki Lauda, the Aga Khan, Looney Tunes artist Chuck Jones, many opera and ballet performers, and numerous European aristocrats.

See the list

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