Rare Books

Most expensive sales from July to September 2020

AbeBooks' list of most expensive sales in July, August and September 2020 features dinosaurs, the wife of a Beatle, a play that flopped, a piece of pop art, the definitive Beat Generation novel, a book signed by 124 movie stars, and a set of legal thrillers.

AbeBooks' top 10 sales (July-Sept 2020)

The Lost World by Michael Crichton, $25,000

An unread, as new first edition complete with its dust jacket. However, that's not what makes this copy collectible.

The Lost World
The Lost World by Michael Crichton

The book is signed by director Steven Spielberg, special effects director Stan Winston, and 10 actors from the film adaption of this novel - Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Pete Postlethwaite, Peter Stormare, Harvey Jason, Richard Schiff, Arliss Howard, Vanessa Chester, and Thomas F. Duffy.

Published in 1995, the novel was the sequel to Crichton's 1990 bestseller Jurassic Park. The Lost World was adapted for cinema in 1997.

Linda McCartney Life in Photographs, $20,000

Published by Taschen in 2011, this is a retrospective of Linda McCartney's life and photography produced in collaboration with Paul McCartney and their children. Linda died in 1998. This book is one of the 125 copies produced in the 'Art Edition B' print run. It includes a print of Paul McCartney titled "Paul, Jamaica, 1971." Both the book and print are individually numbered and signed by Paul McCartney. The book, enclosed in a clamshell box, is still sealed in its original shipping box.

The Vegetable, by F Scott Fitzgerald, $20,000

A short story that Fitzgerald developed into his only play. The Vegetable is a comedy about a middle class clerk. A first edition, published in April 1923, by Scribner's Sons. Very good condition. Signed and inscribed by Fitzgerald in black fountain pen on the front free endpaper: "Dear Mr. Selwynn [sic Selwyn] - Here's the new version of the play. Sincerely, F. Scott Fitzgerald." Selwyn was a theatrical producer and former actor. The play opened in Atlantic City, but soon closed. It failed to reach Broadway.

Guggenheim, by Richard Hamilton, $18,000

A Perspex piece of pop art created in 1970 and designed to be a wall installation.

Guggenheim pop art
Guggenheim pop art

Vacuum-formed and spray painted white, the piece mimics the frontage of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York. Hamilton, who died in 2011, was a versatile artist, best known for his pop art.

Pop art is usually defined by the use of mass media - such as advertising or commercial iconography - in a different context. In this case, a museum that displays art is turned into art itself.

On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, $17,500

A 1957 first edition of this iconic book published by Viking. Author Jack Kerouac's signature has been laid in.

On the Road
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The original dust jacket has been repaired. Filled with jazz and drugs, On the Road describes the experiences of Kerouac and his friends as they travel across the United States.

It is the defining work of the Beat Generation. Kerouac completed the first draft in three weeks, typing it on a continuous 120-foot scroll of paper. The two main characters are Sal Paradise (Kerouac) and his friend Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady).

Emma, by Jane Austen, $16,750

A first edition from 1816, printed for John Murray. Finely bound by Zaehnsdorf, a leading Victorian bookbinding firm, in full reddish-brown morocco with marbled endpapers, gilt-stamped spine in compartments, and elaborate gilt dentelles. All edges gilt.

Emma by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen

The last of Jane Austen's novels to be published in her lifetime. One of 2,000 copies. Persuasion was published after her death in 1817.

Emma is a comedy of manners and looks at the issues of marriage and love, and age and social status in Georgian England.

Emma Woodhouse is the protagonist - a 20-year-old member of the landed gentry with a personal fortune and, hence, no reason to seek a wealthy husband.

Stars of the Photoplay, $15,000

A 1930 book published by Photoplay Magazine, an early movie periodical founded in 1911, containing 250 black-and-white photographs of movie stars along with their biographical details.

Stars of the Photoplay
Stars of the Photoplay

The book's owner, Janice Clutterham of Chicago, was a radio singer and she persuaded 124 of the movie stars to sign their respective page in the book. The signatures include Jean Arthur, Mary Astor, Lew Ayres, Charlie Chaplin, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Marion Davies, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Laurel and Hardy, Myrna Loy, Paul Lukas, Jeanette MacDonald, Mary Pickford, William Powell, Will Rogers, Lillian Roth, and Eric von Stroheim.

Clutterham added notes, including the films that the stars appeared in. The book, which has some wear, is a unique collection of autographs from actors bridging the period between the Silent Screen and the Talkies.

Set of signed limited edition John Grisham novels, 1993-2018, $15,000

Set of John Grisham books
Set of John Grisham books

A complete set of the limited signed edition works of Grisham issued by Doubleday, starting in 1993 with A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and The Client, until The Reckoning published in 2018. All bar one are still in shrink-wrap. Grisham, the lawyer-turned-writer, published his debut novel, A Time to Kill, in June 1989 and he has since sold more than 300 million copies during his career.

Ulysses, by James Joyce, $14,775

Published in 1924 by Shakespeare & Co., this is a fourth edition signed by Joyce when he was the guest of honor at an English PEN Club dinner on 5th April 1927.

Ulysses by James Joyce
Ulysses by James Joyce

The recipient was Eyre Macklin, an English journalist, editor and publisher. Rebound in full crushed red morocco, the original book itself is browned and brittle.

Ulysses chronicles the appointments and encounters of the Leopold Bloom on 16 June 1904. Written in a stream of consciousness, the book has obvious parallels to Homer's epic poem The Odyssey.

The Works of Sir Walter Scott, $13,875

Printed in French and English by Didot on behalf of Galignani in Paris, there are 61 volumes in blue-green calfskin. The set belonged to Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Siciles, Duchess of Berry (1798-1870). Scott's historical adventures - including Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Peveril of the Peak and Waverley - are landmarks in fictional narrative.


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