As usual, I have re-posted this from the great site Abebooks, whose book collection is vast and prices generally better than other online book websites. Though they also seem to have the most expensive books, as shown here. Both Steinbeck and Cervantes made the list for last month.
Last month’s top sale on AbeBooks was for a rare first edition of Mexico’s first national atlas. Bound in three-quarter leather, the 1858 atlas contains 31 lithographed maps with hand colouring. It is a handsome atlas, with the middle of each double-page spread occupied by a map of a specific state or territory, surrounded by statistical and historical information about the region, including Native American tribes and the American/Mexican borderlands.
The general map of the country is one of the finest Mexican maps created in the 19th century, with a Mexican eagle perched on a cactus at top centre, and beautiful lithographed views of Mexican landmarks. The atlas sold for £8,250.
July’s second most expensive sale on AbeBooks was a limited edition 2003 Spanish reprint of Don Quixote illustrated by Salvador Dali. The surreal artist made many drawings of this legendary character, and this was not the only edition of Cervantes’ classic that Dali illustrated. Pictured here (left) is an Argentinian edition published in Buenos Aires 1957-58, and preceding that was an English edition from Random House in 1946.
Other notable sales on the list included a first edition, first printing four-volume set of Winston S. Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples that sold for £2,900. Anything signed by Winston Churchill, twice Britain’s prime minister, will attract a high price. Churchill used History of the English Speaking Peoples to reinforce his strong relationship with America. Churchill included S, for Spencer, in his name on his books to differentiate himself from an American author also called Winston Churchill.
Another significant sale was Heart’s Desire by Chrysilla Von Dansdorf for £4,150. It was published by Golden Cockerel Press in 1939. The Golden Cockerel Press was a famous private press that published handmade books of stunning beauty from 1920 to 1961. The type was usually handset and wood engravings, a forgotten art during this period, were used extensively.
1. Atlas geográfico, estadístico e histórico de la República Mexicana by A. García y Cubas – £8,250
The first edition of the first great scientific atlas of Mexico, published in 1858 as a grand folio.
2. El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote De La Mancha by Cervantes – £6,200
Published in 2003 and limited to 998 copies, this first volume of Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote was illustrated by Salvador Dali and bound in velvet with gold and black letterpress effect. Also included were five photographs of Dali.
3. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae – £5,860
A complete set, totaling 18 books, of an encyclopedia detailing mythology in the plastic arts of classical antiquity. The plastic arts are defined as art forms that involve physical manipulation of a plastic medium by molding or modeling such as sculpture or ceramics.
4. Monstrorum Historia cum paralipomenis historiae omnium animalium Bartholomaeus Ambrosinus by Ulisse Aldrovandi – £4,290
First edition from 1642 by the noted Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi. This rather large work includes 477 woodcut illustrations depicting human, animal and botanical “monsters,” as well as celestial activities (comets, aurorae, etc.). There is a section on fetal development and deformity. There is also a section on Egyptian objects depicting various animal-headed deities.
5. Heart’s Desire by Chrysilla Von Dansdorf – £4,150
Published in 1939 by Golden Cockerel Press, This lettered copy was limited to a run of 70, and contains seven engraved plates by New Zealander John Buckland-Wright. The work is introduced by Von Dansdorf as a copy of a manuscript that he had found via a friend at a Parisian auction. However, it is believed the text is actually the work of Buckland’s close friend Christopher Sandford (of which ‘Dansdorf’ is an anagram), who owned Golden Cockerel Press from 1933 to 1959.
6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – £6,659
A signed first trade edition of Steinbeck’s classic published by Viking in 1952.
7. Aegidii Menagii Miscellanea by Gilles Ménage – £3,514
Published in Paris in 1642, this beautiful four-volume set contains various works by French scholar Gilles Ménage.
8. Teutsche Schriften by Martin Luther – £3,485
Seven volumes published in 1661, the monumental collection of Luther’s writing was commissioned by Frederick William II Duke of Saxony-Altenburg (1603-69), who strove to rebuild Saxony through reforms in education and government after the ravages of the Thirty Years War – a conflict that involved most of Europe.
9. Historica Fisica Politica y Natural de la Isla de Cuba by Ramon de la Sagra – £3,015
A first edition published in Havana in 1843. Ramon de la Sagra was a Spanish botanist, politician and writer.
10. A History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston S. Churchill – £2,900
First edition, first printing of this four-volume set published in 1956 and signed by Churchill.