Books set record prices at auctions

Description de l’Egypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l›expédition de l›Egypte. Paris: C.L.F. Panckoucke, 1820-1830, second edition, $220,000. Courtesy of Andrew Jones Auctions

Books were the stars of two recent auctions, with several setting world records.

Andrew Jones Auctions of Los Angeles celebrated its one-year anniversary by selling an exceedingly rare and complete second edition of Description de l’ Egypte, C.L.F. Panckoucke (1820-1830), including fold-out maps, elephant folios and atlas folio, for the world-record price of $220,000.

Over in New York, a Swann Auction Galleries’ book auction also set records for two titles by Edgar Rice Burroughs: a signed first edition, presentation copy of At the Earth’s Core, 1922, which sold for $3,750, and an inscribed first edition of Tarzan the Invincible, 1931, which sold for $3,500. Also setting a sales record was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s copy of the reconstituted issue of the Transcendentalist periodical The Dial: A magazine for Literature, Philosophy, and Religion, 1860, with notations in Emerson’s hand, which sold for $3,250.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, At the Earth’s Core, first edition, c1922, presentation copy, signed and inscribed, Chicago, $3,750. Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

The antique Egyptology book was one of over 550 lots of market-fresh fine art, design, antiques and Asian works of art from several important collections and estates that Andrew Jones offered for bid.

“This sale was really special,” said company president and CEO Andrew Jones. “It was held on the year anniversary of our founding. The breadth of the spectacular property offered drew vast international interest and far exceeded our expectations.” The two-day sale had a total of $1.5 million.

At Swann Galleries, books brought in a total of $370,361. Although Rice’s two titles set records, Ian Fleming’s James Bond was the star of the sale with four first editions ranking among the top 10 lots, including the 1959 Goldfinger that was the top lot of $25,000. The book features an inscription to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE–three-time winner of The Open Championship, recommending a particular golf scene in the book. Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, 1953, in the first state dust jacket earned $18,750; a presentation copy of Thunderball, 1961, inscribed to Charles Douglas Jackson, a friend of Fleming’s who was posthumously revealed to be a CIA agent, brought $16,250; and the rarest Bond title, The Man with the Golden Gun, 1965, with the gilt gun stamped on the front cover, sold for $11,050.

Ian Fleming, Goldfinger, 1959, first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, $25,000. Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Other works of note included a first edition in the unrestored dust jacket of Hugo Gernsback’s foundational science-fiction classic, Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660, 1925, which earned $9,375. Firsts at auction included first American editions, in original dust jackets, of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, 1911, which sold for $12,500, and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, 1908, which went for $3,500. A scarce presentation copy of Security Analysis, 1934, inscribed to a Wall Street trader was won for $20,000. The first edition is likely the first known to bear the signature of its principal author, Benjamin Graham.

First American edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885, $7,500. Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1885, $7,500; first editions, first issues of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1892, and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, 1894, $3,250; and a signed author’s edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, 1876, $4,500.

“The enduring appeal of inscribed first editions, particularly those with a significant association, was on full display and resulted in a number of high prices,” said John D. Larson, specialist for Swann Galleries’ 19th & 20th Century Literature sale.