First edition, first printing of Dune by Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert

In June 2011 AbeBooks once again showcased the collectibility of classic science fiction works, as a signed first edition copy of the modern classic Dune by Frank Herbert sold for $7,500.  The novel is considered to be Herbert's magnum opus and spawned a series of sequels all set on the desert world of Arrakis, which is the only source of the universe's most valuable material: a melange called "spice" which is required for space travel.  This is the highest recorded price paid for a copy of the landmark novel on AbeBooks, but it is also the first time a first edition copy of this quality has been sold with a signature included.  Herbert got the idea for the novel while visiting Florence, Oregon and the famous Oregon sand dunes.

Other notable sales include a collection from French Poet Paul Verlaine which was limited to 30 copies and printed on Holland Paper, which is a durable paper suitable for luxury books. This was the only anthology of Verlaine's poetry that was published in the lifetime of the author, with the choice of poems being made by fellow writer Charles Morice (with Verlaine's approval). This copy sold for $6,541.  Also interesting was the$5,050 sale of Rosas, a collection of poems, with illustrations in various media showing roses. Poems by Robert Herrick, Thomas More, William Blake and Edmund Waller are included, with other words and arrangements by artist Susan Allix. Making this collection even more remarkable was a double-page original watercolor unique to this volume. 

Top 10 Most Expensive Sales in June 2011

1. Dune by Frank Herbert - $7,500
First edition, first printing signature by Herbert on a laid in.  This true first edition includes a fine dustjacket with the $5.95 price present on the front flap. 

2. Choix de poesies by Paul Verlaine - $6,541
Published in 1891 this is the first edition of Verlaine's collected poems, this copy is one of 30 limited edition copies to be printed on Holland Paper.

3. Lisboa: Cidade triste a alegre by Victor Palla and Costa Martins - $5,137
Published in quatro this volume contains 152 photographs from these renowned photographers

4. Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso X el Sabio - $5,107
A facsimile edition published in 1989 of the thirteenth century religious songs authored by King Alfonso X the Wise.

5. Rosas: Roses Real and Imaginary with bindings by Susan Allix - $5,050
Published in 2009 this contains 14 unnumbered leaves buond in a multi-colored Morocco and embroidered binding by Allix.  With nine illustrations of various sorts and in various media showing roses by Allix, one double-page and one an original watercolor unique to this volume. One of ten copies signed by  Allix.

6=. Buckskin Brigades by L. Ron Hubbard - $5,000
True first edition of the science fiction author's first book, published in 1937. This copy is in fine condition and includes the dustjacket.

6=. The American Gardener by John Gardiner and David Hepburn- $5,000
Published in 1804 this is a first edition copy in full leather binding of the first book on American agriculture written by an American agriculturist. 

8. The Complete Alphabet Murder Series by Sue Grafton - $4,975
From A to U this is a complete set of Grafton's famous series which began with A is for Alibi in 1982.  Each volume is signed, copies in fine dustjackets, all first editions are first American printings.  22 volumes total as a second copy of O is for Outlaw was included as a limited British edition which pre-dated the American.

9. The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney - $4,500
With relief etchings by Claire Van Vliet, this 1984 publication by Janus Press was limited to 150 numbered copies (this #43) printed letterpress on handmade Barcham Green paper and signed by Charles G. Finney and Claire Van Vliet on colophon.

10. La militia romana di Polibio, Tito Livio, e di Dionigi Alicarnasso by Francesco Patrizi - $4,395
The Roman militia is a major study by the Italian philosopher Francesco Patrizi on the ancient Roman army based on his reading of Polybius, Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.  Published in 1583. 

See All of AbeBooks' Most Expensive Sales

Illuminated Manuscripts Signed Books First Edition Books