Although a 400-year-old King James bible appears on AbeBooks’ top 10 most expensive sales of December 2010, last month's list is dominated by 20th century literature. James Joyce (making two appearances, for $5,500 and $5,200) was in demand along with one-hit wonder Harper Lee, Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, playwright Tennessee Williams, thriller writer John Grisham and a certain politician called Barack Obama, whose first edition Dreams From My Father came in at number nine.
Within financial circles, the 1934 first edition of Security Analysis by professors Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd - December’s most expensive sale at $12,000 - is a highly treasured book. This influential text promoted the theory behind value investments where underpriced securities, such as bonds, are purchased.
As for numbers five and seven on the list, the passion for James Joyce never seems to dim. In the past seven years, AbeBooks has sold 16 books by Joyce for prices more than $3,000. Harper Lee, who continues to maintain a low profile, is also a regular on this list thanks to demand for rare signed copies of her book. Grisham rarely appears on our top 10 most expensive list but Obama has made frequent appearances since his rise to power.
December’s Most Expensive Sales
1. Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd - $12,000
First edition, first printing from 1934 of this landmark economics book, written by two Columbia University professors, that laid the intellectual foundation for value investing.
2. King James Great ‘He’ Bible - $8,900
Printed in London in 1611 by Robert Barker – “Printer to the Kings moft Excellent Maieftie”. This is known as the ‘He’ bible because of a mistake in Ruth 3:15 where “and he went into the city” should have read “and she went....”
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - $8,500
First British edition of the author’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 1960, signed “with best wishes, Harper Lee.”
4. Kingfishers and Related Birds by J.M. Forshaw - $7,391
Published in six volumes from 1983 to 1994, this complete numbered set was limited to 1000 copies, all volumes signed ‘Joseph M. Forshaw’ and ‘William T. Cooper’. This set was the first fully illustrated guide to the Coracuformes family of birds. Elephant folio.
5. Dubliners by James Joyce - $5,500
Published in 1914, this collection of 15 short stories received a very limited initial hardcover printing of less than 1000.
6. Collected Poems, 1934-1952 by Dylan Thomas - $5,408
This signed limited edition is printed on mould-made paper and was printed in 1952. There were only 65 copies. This is copy No.1 and signed in ink by the poet.
7. Ulysses by James Joyce - $5,200
This copy of the 1935 Odyssey Press edition of the author’s legendary work was signed by Joyce in 1937.
8. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams - $4,575
Signed copy of the 1955 first edition of Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece with the original Alvin Lustig designed dustwrapper.
9. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama - $4,500
True first edition of the Obama’s debut book, printed in 1995 by Times Books.
10. A Time to Kill by John Grisham – $3,999
A near fine 1989 first edition first printing of Grisham’s debut novel. Inscribed by the author.