Here is a list of the twenty most expensive books purchased on the AbeBooks website during the first three months of 2022. There are books old and recent, in English and Latin, fiction and real, science and occult, and lots more. Tastes vary widely but one thing for certain is that the buyers were all collectors as no one pays this much for a reading copy. Now, here they are.
20. Friendship album of Mihály Pap. From 1765-1769. Pap was a student traveling around Europe. The album is a collection of messages, drawings, poems, autographs, etc., or as AbeBooks says, “rather like a print version of Facebook.” $10,470.
19. The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill. Eight volumes from 1928. One of the first self-help books. $10,630.
18. Ars magna lucis et umbrae, in decem libros digesta (the great art of light and shadow, in 10 books) by Athanasius Kircher, published in 1646. Kircher was a polymath who wrote about China, ancient Egypt, geology, science, technology, medicine, etc. This one is on light and optics. $10,770.
17. Wept of Wish-ton-Wish, A Tale by James Fenimore Cooper, published in 1829. Not his most famous book, it mines the frontier settler and native Indian narrative, though written while Cooper was in Europe. $11,000.
16. The Works of John Locke, published in 1714. Published 10 years after the death of the great English philosopher, empiricist, influencer on political liberalism and Enlightenment thinkers. $11,550.
15. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, published in 1953. A special fire-proof asbestos covered edition and presentation copy. Asbestos? $12,000.
13 tie. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, published in 1943. A tale of life for the immigrant poor at the turn of the last century. $12,500.
13 tie. The Awakening by Kate Chopin, published in 1899. One of the earliest novels to focus on women's issues. $12,500
12. First on the Moon: A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. by Gene Farmer and Dora Jane Hamblin, published in 1970. The Apollo 11 moon landing, inscribed by Armstrong, signed by Aldrin and Collins. $13,750.
11. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, published in 1936. First issue, signed by Mitchell, but in a facsimile dust jacket.
10. Le Theatre du Monde ou Nouvel Atlas by Willem & Joan Blaeu, published in 1648. One of those great Dutch atlases of the 17th century. $15,825.
9. The Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, published from 1843-1848. First editions of A Christmas Carol and four others. $16,000.
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, third edition and first illustrated from 1831. Do not mess with life! $19,500.
6 tie. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, published in 1843. Odd that it's more expensive than the entire set but this copy is accompanied by a letter from Dickens. $20,000.
6 (tie). Neverland concept art by Mary Blair. The original painting of the appearance of Neverland from behind the stars for Disney's movie. $20,000.
5. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster, published in 1924. Signed and inscribed by Forster in 1944. $23,700.
4. Hydrodynamica, sive De Viribus et Motibus Fluidorum Commentarii by Daniel Bernoulli, published in 1738. The mathematics and laws of fluids. $25,000.
3. The Book Of Thoth: A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians by Aleister Crowley, published in 1944. This is a work of the occultist, sort of an anti-John Locke. $27,500.
2. Hinterlassene Werke Des Generals Carl Von Clausewitz (the surviving works of General Carl Von Clausewitz), 10 volumes published 1832-1837. Von Clausewitz was a Prussian General who wrote about psychological and political aspects of war, including the “fog of war” that makes decision-making difficult. $27,750.
1. First edition set of Captain James Cook's three voyages, written by Cook, John Hawkesworth, and James King. Nine volumes from 1773, 1777, and 1784. One of the greatest of all exploration books. The tenth most expensive item ever sold on AbeBooks. $50,000.