Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Considered by many to be one of the finest pieces of literature from the past 50 years, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981. It also won the Best of the Bookers in 1993 and 2008 to celebrate anniversaries of the award. First edition copies of this landmark novel often sell for up to $4,000 when signed by Rushdie, but even that figure pales in comparison to last month’s chart-topping sale of the extraordinarily rare, uncorrected proof of the first UK edition. 

Selling for a shade over $14,000, the fragile copy came in the original proof wrapper, and differs from the first trade edition in that it was bound in a different format (6.125 by 8.375 inches or 15.6 by 21.2 centimetres), meaning it also runs to 442 pages instead of 446.  One can only imagine what it would fetch if Rushdie had signed it.

Of course, the major literary news of July was JK Rowling’s unmasking as Robert Galbraith. A signed UK edition of Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling sold for $4,587 on AbeBooks but failed to crack our top 10. Rowling’s venture into crime writing surprised readers and collectors alike, and signed copies are scarce.

Other items of note include a 97-volume run of an academic philosophy journal called Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie which sold for nearly $9,000 as well as the 1617 edition of Robert Hues' Tractatus de globis.  This is believed to have been the 6th printing of this landmark treatise on the celestial, terrestrial globe; it was both a scholarly work and an attempt to instruct English sailors on the practicality of astronomical navigation.


July's Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks

Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle
Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle

1. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie- $14,005
Published in 1980, this is a fine uncorrected UK proof in the very rare and fragile original proof dustwrapper. 

2.Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle - $9,756
Published in 1929 by Lausanne, Gonin & Cie, this limited edition of Lisle’s Poèmes Barbares contains 31 original compositions by French painter Paul Jouve – famed for his artwork of African animals.

3. Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie - $8,981
Volumes 1-97 (1907-2011) of the “Archives for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy” which is a peer-reviewed academic journal of philosophy.

4.  One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez - $8,000
Published by Harper & Row in New York in 1970, a true signed first edition and first printing complete with its dust jacket. The book is in fine condition and the jacket has minor wear.

5. Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming- $7,500
First edition first printing (Jonathan Cape, 1954) of Fleming’s second Bond novel which had an initial print run of only 7,500 copies.  This copy was presented in a sophisticated (restored) second state dust jacket.

6. Tiers Monde edited by Maxine Haubert- $7,025
Published between 1960 and 1998, this set contains 39 volumes (1-39) of the leading French review in the field of research related to Third World problems. Published by Presses Universitaires de France.

Poemes by Charles d'Orléan
by Charles d'Orléans
7. Royal Institute of International Affairs by Arnold J. Toynbee - $6,969
Survey of International Affairs. Published in 45 volumes under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs to cover the years 1928 to 1963. All volumes bound in original cloth.

8. Poemes by Charles d'Orléans - $5,274
Published in 1950, this limited edition (1,230 copies) features 100 original lithographed pages by Henri Matisse, with 54 being full page lithographs. Signed by Matisse.

9. Tractatus de Globis, coelesti et terrestri eorumque usu by Robert Hues - $4,889
The 1617 edition of Hues Tractatus de Globis was the first edition of Johannes Isaac Pontanus' adapted version of Robert Hues' famous treatise on the first pair of globes produced in England.  Hues' writes on the celestial and terrestrial globe. This was originally published in 1594 and has been reprinted at least a dozen times in Dutch, English, French, as well as Latin, like this volume.

10. Ballet by Alexey Brodovitch - $4,750
Published in 1945, this first edition of Ballet - one of the most influential photo-books of the 20th century - contains 104 plates.  Between 1935 and 1937, Brodovitch photographed several of the leading Russian ballet companies while they performed in New York.

Three more from Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle

Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle
Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle
Poèmes Barbares by Leconte de Lisle

Three from Ballet by Alexey Brodovitch

Ballet by Alexey Brodovitch
Ballet by Alexey Brodovitch
Ballet by Alexey Brodovitch

Which of these books would you most like to own?

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Rare and Collectible Books Book Collecting Guide First editions