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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – A rare edition of Ernest Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems [Paris]: Contact Publishing Co., 1923, one of just 300 copies printed brought $68,500 on Feb. 8, 2012 to lead Heritage Auctions’ $736,000 rare books auction. All prices include 25 percent Buyer’s Premium.
The edition contains a warm inscription from Hemingway to two of the editors of The Little Review, the important ‘little magazine’ that published works by avant garde writers of the time such as James Joyce and T. S. Eliot. The inscription reads: “For j.h. [Jane Heap] and Margaret Anderson with love from Hemingway.”
Complementing the rare edition of Hemingway’s first book was another important early edition from Hemingway, which, while not as rare or valuable as the top lot in the auction, showed surprising strength: a First Edition, First Printing in the scarce First Issue dust jacket of his Men Without Women, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1927 more than doubled pre-auction estimates to finish at $5,313.
“There was great enthusiasm across the board in this auction,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage Auctions, “especially for classic American literature, with Hemingway asserting his authority as the perennial favorite.”
Another perennial American favorite and literary giant, Edgar Allan Poe, drew a good amount of attention from collectors for just one of 750 first edition copies of his first prose collection, complete and in the original cloth, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1840, which realized $21,250.
The rarest edition of Willa Cather’s masterpiece Death Comes for the Archbishop, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927, number 40 of 50 specially-bound copies printed on Japan vellum and signed by Cather on the limitation page, brought a world record price for the title when it went to an advanced collection for a $16,250 final price realized.
“This is a beautiful copy of one of the rarest finds in the Cather canon,” said Gannon, “and this price was at least three times as much as any edition of this same book had ever brought at auction.”
Fine and rare editions of classic children’s literature have seen an uptick on desirability in the last few years, which was much in evidence in the February auction. One of 2,500 copies of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, featuring 12 Illustrations with original woodcuts and an original etching by Salvador Dali, New York: Maecenas Press-Random House, 1969, signed by Dali, captured the imagination of collectors along with a $7,500 price realized. A first edition in the scarce first issue dust jacket of Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are, New York: Harper & Row, 1963, set off a minor bidding battle before settling at the impressive final price realized of $4,063.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
- First edition of Alexander Pope’s Homer, with a subscription slips signed by Pope realized $13,750.
- The exceedingly scarce first edition of Scouting for Boys, Lieut.-General R. S. S. Baden Powell realized $10,000.
- A remarkable collection of more than 1,000 Pocket Books, encompassing the Imprint’s first 21 Years, including a complete run of the first 1,257 titles realized $6,875.
- One of 500 First Editions of Thomas Hardy’s Second Book, Under the Greenwood Tree, A Rural Painting of the Dutch School: First edition, one of 500 printed. Realized: $5,938.
For more information, visit Heritage’s Weekly Internet Rare Books & Autographs Auctions.
Resources for books and magazine collectors
- Antique Trader Book Collectors Price Guide, 3rd edition
- Vendors say sales remain strong at San Francisco Antiquarian Book, Print & Paper Fair 2012<
- Celebrate Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday with antique postcards
- 1939 poster of Walt Disney’s Pinnochio brings $800 in rare book auction