Les Roses by Pierre-Joseph Redouté
Les Roses
by Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Our most expensive sales during November 2012 featured a book of paintings by Belgian artist and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté, who was so famous for his watercolors of roses, lilies and other flowers that he was dubbed the “The Raphael of Flowers.”  A copy of his most famous publication Les Roses sold for $28,000.

The British royal family are never very far from the headlines and we saw a copy of The History of the Royal Residences sell for over $10,000 last month. It was created by writer and illustrator William Henry Pyne. This English artist became a major name in art after exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1790, and he was one of the founders of the Royal Watercolour Society in 1804.  In that same year, he published The Costume of Great Britain which included 60 paintings of both professional and working class men and women in everyday British life.

In 1819, Pyne published The History of Royal Residences. This rather large book (332mm x 278mm) features lavish illustrations depicting the interior decorations and furnishings of the various royal homes around Britain and was produced at considerable expense to Pyne.  The book was a financial failure and Pyne eventually ended up in the King’s Bench Prison for debtors. He died a poor man in 1843.

November’s Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks

Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce by Marie-Gabriel-Florent-Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier
Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce
by Marie-Gabriel-Florent-Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier

1. Les Roses by Pierre-Joseph Redouté - $28,000
Published in 1935, this fine set of Redouté's best known work is a re-issue of the second octavo - the most complete edition published. It contains 23 additional plates, the portraits and a frontispiece floral wreath, the biographical note on co-contributor Claude-Antoine Thory plus additional text.

2. Voyage Pittoresque de la Grèce by Marie-Gabriel-Florent-Auguste de Choiseul-Gouffier - $25,955
Published in three volumes from 1782 to 1822, a “Scenic trip to Greece” was written over several journeys when de Choiseul-Gouffier was the French ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which controlled Greece at that time.  The three volumes contain 285 engravings on 166 plates as well as numerous maps.

3. The History of the Royal Residences of Windsor Castle, St. James's Palace, Carlton House, Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Buckingham House, and Frogmore by William Henry Pyne - $10,422
A first edition published in London in 1819 in three volumes. It contains the best record of Buckingham Palace before John Nash made alterations in 1825.

4=  Ezechiel [with] Explication de Quelques Chapitres du Prophete Daniel - $9,500
A French exegetical (critical explanation) manuscript from around 1700, covering the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Daniel, published in two volumes written in ink in an accomplished, almost calligraphic hand on extremely thick, laid paper.

Musaeum Graecum et Aegyptiacum by Richard Dalton
4= Sky Island, The Sea Fairies and Rinkitink In Oz by L. Frank Baum - $9,500
Three first editions from L. Frank Baum published respectively in 1911, 1912, and 1916. The Sea Fairies is a children’s fantasy tale and Sky Island is its sequel. Neither enjoyed the success of Baum’s Oz series.

6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - $8,800
A first edition hardcover published in 1900, with the copyright notice dated 1899. It also contains 24 color plates and illustrations by W.W. Denslow.

7. Raccolta Di Statue Antiche e Moderne Data in Luce Sotto I Gloriosi Auspicj Della Santita Di N.s. Papa Clemente XI by Domenico De' Rossi - $8,000
A collection of engravings of ancient and modern Roman sculpture, containing 163 elephant folio plates, published in 1704 with text by Paolo Alessandro Maffei.

8. Musaeum Graecum et Aegyptiacum by Richard Dalton - $7,800
The antiquities of Greece and Egypt illustrated by prints from Dalton’s drawings, published in 1752 and containing 42 first state plates of scenes such as Mt. Aetna, Temple of Theseus, the Parthenon and more. 

9. Jacobi Augusti Thuani Historiarum sui Temporis pars Prima by Jacques-Auguste de Thou - $7,500
A first edition of Thou’s  most important work - a masterpiece of French historiography covering the 16th century and published in 1604. 

10. 1861 Civil War First New Testament Bible - $5,500
The Soldiers’ bible, the King James version, was published in 1861 by the Southern Confederate states during the American Civil War. This copy was published 1861 in Tennessee.  The Confederate editions of the New Testament are very scarce due to the lack of supplies during the war. 

If you had $28,000 to spend on one book, what would you buy?

More to Explore:

Book Collecting Guide First editions Illuminated Manuscripts