Top 10: Modern First Edition Books
10. The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemmingway - $35,000
First published in 1926, Hemmingway’s look at post world war one disillusionment and debauchery The Sun Also Rises is valued at $35,000 by the Ahearn guide for a fine condition first edition.
9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling - £23,000
A JK Rowling-signed first edition of the premier Harry Potter book from 1997 sold for £23,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in 2007. The first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone ran to just 300 copies.
The value of such first editions could well rise sharply in coming years as children who enjoyed the books first time round become wage-earning adults.
8. The Wind in The Willows, Kenneth Grahame - £32,400
A 1908 first edition copy of The Wind in The Willows by Kenneth Grahame was sold by Bonhams in 2010 for £32,400.
7. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter - £41,825
A first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter went for £41,825 at a Sotheby’s London auction in 2002, precisely 100 years after the story of the mischievous young rabbit first made it into print.
6. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien - £60,000
A 1937 first edition of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, inscribed to his friend Elaine Griffiths, sold for £60,000 at a Bonhams London auction in March 2008. Just 1,500 first edition books were printed.
The success of the tale inspired Tolkien to embark on his far lengthier follow-up, The Lord of the Rings.
5. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, TE Lawrence - £60,000
A mere eight first edition copies of TE Lawrence's autobiographical novel were printed.
Of those 1922 Oxford Times-published works, six can currently be accounted for.
It is therefore no surprise Book & Magazine Collector magazine has valued these copies at £60,000.
Lawrence maintained that the original manuscript for the book was stolen at Reading railway station in 1919. Some experts suggest that this was an excuse designed to buy him more time to write the classic work.
4. The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - £80,000
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 tale of the vicious hound, wreaking havoc on the wilds of Dartmoor, is possibly Sherlock Holmes’s best-loved adventure.
Among Sherlock first editions it is certainly the most sought after, valued at £80,000 by Book and Magazine Collector magazine.
3. Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell - £86,000
A signed copy of George Orwell’s 1933 work Down And Out In Paris And London achieved £86,000 at a Gorringes, UK sale in 2010.
The semi-autobiographical novel was Orwell’s first full-length work.
In researching the book he took jobs dishwashing in Paris restaurants and lived as a tramp on the British roads.
2. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald - $163,500
A first edition of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby sold at a Christie's auction in New York for $163,500 in October 2002, doubling its estimate in the process.
The depiction of 1920’s New York was first published in 1925 and is one of just four novels Fitzgerald completed.
1. Ulysses, James Joyce - $460,000
Ulysses was met with scepticism and bewilderment when James Joyce first approached publishers with it in the early 1920s, a feeling that many readers of the novel can sympathise with.
The book is heavy going but beloved by those with the perseverance to keep going.
First published on February 2, 1922, on Joyce’s 40th birthday, a mere 1,000 copies were printed by the Paris-based Shakespeare and Company.
Of those 1,000, two copies were signed by Joyce. One of these resides at the Macroom Library in Cork, Ireland.
The other was sold at Christie's for $460,000 in 2002, comfortably beating its $300,000 high-end estimate.
Joyce wrote in the inscription: "To Henry Kaeser James Joyce Dijon 12 October 1922". Kaeser was the man who published the second edition of the work, on the date of the inscription.
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