We hear so much about the death of the book in paper but today we read about the rare book sale of all sales. The prices achieved at Duke’s in Dorchester were somewhat amazing:
Jane Austin’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, first edition £26,000
A 1897 edition of ‘The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer’ £90,000
Sir Isaac Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’ £90,000
Charles Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’ £50,000
A first edition from 1482 about the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid £74,000
Most of the books came from Sir Henry Newton and former university librarian Jean Preston’s libraries and we doubt if ABE or Alibris could have ever realised these values and an auction on eBay would have probably missed the reserve.
It’s ironic that in the latest ‘The Quarterly’ Christiaan Jonkers writes about collecting first editions. He claims Conan Doyle’s first Holmes novel published in 1887 would fetch £100,000 and even if it were rejacketed £30,000. Obviously it has to do with the volume printed, the demand for the title and the price someone is willing to pay. Even recent first editions of titles such as the Fleming Bond novels or Hornby’s ‘Fever Pitch’ have appreciated in value. Best of all is his number one tip ‘always buy the best copy of a book that you can within your budget’.