Rare Books

Shamrock - One of Ireland's most recognized National Symbols/For a relatively small nation, Ireland has a deep and rich literary tradition. Boasting a plethora of highly influential and immensely desirable works, one could build an amazing book collection with only authors of Irish heritage.

To celebrate March 17th and the feast of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, and all that the Emerald Isle has given to the world of literature, AbeBooks reveals its 10 most expensive sales of books (and one typewriter) by Irish authors.

AbeBooks' Top Ten Most Expensive Irish Author Sales

Irish author - Robert Boyle

1. The Sceptical Chymist: or Chymico-Physical Doubts
Robert Boyle
Sold for: $18,500

The second English edition of Boyle's critque of the Aristotelian view of all matter being composed of the basic elements earth, air, fire, and water. Published in 1680. Robert Boyle (1627-1691) was born in Lismore Castle.

James Joyce

2. Ulysses
James Joyce
Sold for: $10,000

First edition published in 1922, limited to 1000 copies of which this is one of 750 numbered copies on handmade paper (this being copy number 346).  Joyce (1882-1941) was born in Dublin.Ulysses was first serialized in the journal The Little Review from 1918 to 1920.

Irish writer, CS Lewis

3. The Screwtape Letters
CS Lewis
Sold for: $9,097

First Edition, First Impression. 8vo. Original black cloth, white paper title label to spine printed in black.  C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) was born in Belfast. Published in 1942, The Screwtape Letters is a work of Christian satire, a story told in a series of letters from a senior demon.

George Bernard Shaw

4. George Bernard Shaw's Typewriter
Sold for: $8,219

Remington Noiseless Portable Typewriter which belonged to the legendary Irish playwright, signed in faded ink "Bernard Shaw, Ayot St Lawrence, Welwyn Herts". George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in born in Dublin.

CS Lewis Out of the Silent Planet

5. Out of the Silent Planet
CS Lewis
Sold for: $7,950

Published in 1938, first book from Lewis, including rare original Harold Jones dustjacket. Out of the Silent Planet is the first book in a science fiction trilogy also referred to as the Space Trilogy, Ransom Trilogy or Cosmic Trilogy.

Tales Told of Shem and Shaun James Joyce

6. Tales Told of Shem and Shaun. Three Fragments from Work in Progress
James Joyce
Sold for: $7,500

First edition, 88 of 100 copies signed by Joyce. Introduction by scholar C. K. Ogden preparing the reader for the astonishing word-games included in the three sections of Joyce's Finnegans Wake included in this volume.

A House of Pomegranates Oscar Wilde

7. A House of Pomegranates
Oscar Wilde
Sold for: $6,507

First edition, limited to 1000 copies, published in 1892. A collection of four fairy tales, published as a second collection for The Happy Prince and Other Tales. Each with a full page illustration by C.H. Shannon. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was born in Rathgar, Dublin.

James Joyce Ulysses

8. Ulysses
James Joyce
Sold for: $6,500

Published in 1935 by the Limited Editions Club of New York this edition of the Joyce classic was number 74 of 1500 and was signed by Henri Matisse who contributed the illustrations for the work. Ulysses chronicles the passage through Dublin by the protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

The Querist George Berkeley

9. The Querist
George Berkeley
Sold for: $6,305

First Irish edition, published 1936; The Querist formed a major contribution to political economy and monetary policy in Ireland.Extremely rare with the (much) earlier London pressing having only been discovered in 1926. Berkeley (1685-1753) was born in Dysart Castle, near Thomastown.

The Silver Chair CS Lewis

10. The Silver Chair
CS Lewis
Sold for: $5,645

Rare first edition of the fourth book published from the Chronicles of Narnia series, sixth book chronologically. Published in 1953.
The Silver Chair is the first of two books in the Chronicles of Narnia series in which the Pevensie children do not appear.

More Collectible Irish Authors

The Vicar of Wakefield Oliver Goldsmith

The Vicar of Wakefield
Oliver Goldsmith
Price: $4,281

1843 Cosway-style binding. Bound in full red crushed morocco. Woodcut illustrations.

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift

Travels Into Several Remote Nations of the World (Gulliver's Travels)
Jonathan Swift
Price: $10,704

1726 Three volumes. Volumes I and II are first edition, second issue.

WB Yeats Essays

William Butler Yeats
Price: $1,250

1924 Macmillan and Co., London. First Edition, in original dust jacket.

Dracula Bram Stoker

Bram Stoker
Price: $14,670

First edition published 1897. Inscribed by Bram Stoker.

Molloy Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett
Price: $1,784

First Edition in English, First Printing. Signed by Samuel Beckett.