Rare Books

Most expensive sales in 2022

Architecture, exploration, stock trading, poetry, science fiction, and much more.

Welcome to our most expensive sales of the year. The list includes a book about Italian architecture and a landmark book about the stock market. There is also an illustrated poetry book and a famous novel about time travel.

I Quattro Libri dell Architettura by Andrea Palladio - $57,750

uattro libri dell'architettura
Palladio's architectural style was classical in nature. This image shows a later edition of the item that was sold.

A first edition from 1570 of this influential book about architecture. Andrea di Pietro was nicknamed Palladio and worked in the Venice region of Italy where his buildings are famous for their classical style. This volume is divided into four sections - basic architectural tasks such as walls and rooms, private houses, public buildings such as bridges and squares and, town planning and temples. Palladio’s style became known as Palladianism, and it was copied across Europe until the 18th century.

Cook’s Voyages by John Hawkesworth - $50,000

Cook's Voyages
Cook's Voyages in nine volumes

A rare first edition set of the official accounts of Captain James Cook's three voyages published in nine volumes in 1773, 1777 and 1784 respectively. These books were 18th century bestsellers with readers eager to learn about the other side of the world. These books gave Europeans a greater awareness of world geography, while his maps and charting of coastlines laid the foundation for modern maritime routes.

How to Trade in Stocks by Jesse Livermore - $40,000

How to Trade in Stocks
Jesse Livermore invented a successful trading formula based on trends

A 1940 first edition, signed by the author, published by Duell, Sloan & Pearce. Livermore was one of the great stock traders, worth millions at his peak in the 1920s. He traded with his own money. How to Trade in Stocks revealed his formula for monitoring trends, which is still used today. Edwin Lefèvre wrote a book about Livermore in 1923, called Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, which provides further insight into this remarkable man.

Cantique des Cantiques de Salomon - $35,000

Cantique des Cantiques
Eric Gill illustrated this book of poetry.

The Song of Songs, also known as the Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Solomon, is an erotic poem. This is a 1931 edition in French produced by the Cranach Press with beautiful wood engravings by Eric Gill, the British artist known for his typefaces and printmaking. Only eight copies were produced in French and they are printed on vellum. The Cranach Press was dedicated to printing fine editions of famous literature. The Song of Songs appears in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) and is read on the Sabbath during Passover.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells - $30,500

Published by Henry Holt, this is the 1895 first edition of The Time Machine with the author's name misspelled as H.S. Wells on the title page. This copy is signed by Wells just below the names of the previous owners. The Time Machine was the author's first novel and has become a cornerstone of science fiction with its time traveling theme.

The Tour of the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne - $30,000

A note written by French author Jules Verne
A note written by French author Jules Verne

Better known as Around the World in 80 Days, this is the first American printing of Verne's story. The book was rebound in 1952 in green calf leather. It was owned by Mrs. Nellie W. Pillsbury. One of Nellie's daughters, Nellie Ruth King, was the mother of the author Stephen King. The book was accompanied by a handwritten note from Verne, signed and dated October 1883, where he describes two upcoming titles. In addition, a handwritten note from American author Nellie Bly is tipped into the book. Inspired by Verne, Bly made her own trip around the globe and wrote a book called Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.

Hinterlassene Werke Des Generals Carl Von Clausewitz - $27,750

Carl Von Clausewitz was a Prussian general

This translates as ‘The surviving works of General Carl Von Clausewitz’, who was a Prussian general and military theorist. His most famous book is Vom Kriege (About War).

These works were published between 1832 and 1837 in 10 volumes bound into four books. Von Clausewitz (1780-1831) fought in France in the French Revolution and against France in the Napoleonic Wars. He analyzed strategy and tactics including the ‘fog of war’ phenomenon caused by poor military intelligence.

The Book Of Thoth: A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians by Aleister Crowley – $27,500

A study of Egyptian tarot by the world’s most infamous occultist. Published in 1944, this is a signed copy. Thoth was the Egyptian god of writing and knowledge, and his name is associated with numerous ancient Egyptian texts.

Hydrodynamica, sive De Viribus et Motibus Fluidorum Commentarii by Daniel Bernoulli - $25,000

Hydrodynamica by Daniel Bernoulli
Hydrodynamica is a pioneering text in the field of applied mechanics

Published in 1738, this is a landmark book in the field of theoretical and applied mechanics through its mathematical study of fluid flow. Translated from Latin, the title is ‘Hydrodynamics, or commentaries on the forces and motions of fluids.’ Bernoulli describes an equation that governs the flow of fluids in terms of speed, pressure, and potential energy, upon which much modern technology is based, especially aerodynamics.

Les Vitraux by Salvador Dalí - $25,000

Les Vitraux
Les Vitraux by Salvador Dali contains 24 loose lithographs

This is a portfolio of 24 loose color lithographs, each signed and numbered in pencil by Salvador Dalí. Published in 1973 in Italy, this is a limited numbered edition of 250 copies. These lithographs are a typical example of Dali’s work in surrealism, including an appearance of a melting clock made famous by his Persistence of Memory painting from 1931. Les Vitraux translates as stained glass.


More beautiful books

By Jessica Doyle
June 03, 2021
Penguin Drop Caps is a series of 26 rainbow-hued hardcover editions of literature's finest treasures. An edition for each letter of the alphabet, the series features authors from A (Jane Austen) to Z (Carlos Ruiz Zafon).
1 Min Read
June 03, 2021
Sandra Hindman is a leading expert on Medieval and Renaissance manuscript illumination. Professor Emerita of Art History at Northwestern University and owner of Les Enluminures, Sandra is author, co-author, or editor of more than 10 books, as well as numerous articles on history, illuminated manuscripts and medieval rings. AbeBooks posed a number of basic questions about medieval manuscripts and Sandra was kind enough to answer them.
6 Min Read
By Jessica Doyle
June 03, 2021
Explore AbeBooks' selection of beautiful rare bibles and learn the stories behind world famous editions.
3 Min Read