Franz Kafka rare books and memorabilia

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wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:58:39

Franz Kafka rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to surrealist author Franz Kafka (1883-1924). Kafka is considered one of the best writers of the 20th century.

Brief History/biography

Kafka was born in Prague, Bohemia, at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He wrote in German, but also spoke Czech and was interested in Czech literature. He was an enthusiastic socialist. The majority of his work was published posthumously, including much of his unfinished writing.

Most of Kafka’s working life was spent in insurance, though as discovered later, he was writing in his spare time throughout. His writing was not much noticed until his death, publishing only a few short stories in his lifetime. His full length novels were never finished, other than his famous novella The Metamorphosis.

The earliest English translations of Kafka’s difficult German were by Edwin and Willa Muir and published by Alfred A. Knopf, though the first English edition of The Metamorphosis (1937) was translated by a folk singer named A. L. Lloyd.

Types of rare books and memorabilia

Books

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • The Metamorphosis (1937), first English edition, sold for £850 in November 2002
  • The Castle, translated by Willa and Edwin Muir (1930) first English edition, sold for £700 in July 2000.
  • Der Prozess (1925) first edition, sold for £650 in November 2006.
  • The Metamorphosis (1937), first English edition, sold for £450 in July 2003.

Bonhams

  • In der Strafkolonie (1919), first edition, sold for $1,952 in June 2011.
  • Betrachtung (1913), first edition. Sold for $1,342 in June 2011.

Christie’s

  • Betrachtung (1913), first edition with signed inscription, sold for £11,500 in June 1995.
  • Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) (1915), first edition, sold for $16,450 in April 2001, and $17,625 also in April 2001.
  • Der Prozess (1925), fist edition, with dust-jacket, sold for $13,200 in June 2007.
  • Amerika (1927), first edition, with dust-jacket, sold for $6,600 in June 2007.

Sothebys

  • Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) (1915), First Edition, sold for $4,500 in June 2005.
  • The Metamorphosis (1937), first English edition, sold for £1,560 in March 2005.
  • Amerika (1927), first edition, sold for £1,440 in March 2005.

Galerie Bassenge

  • Betrachtung (1913), sold for 7500 Euros in April 2007 and 11,000 Euros in April 2011.
  • Das Schloss (1926) first edition, sold for 4,400 Euros in April 2011.
  • Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) (1915), First Edition, sold for 1,600 Euros in October 2011, 1,700 Euros in April 2012, 1,800 Euros in April 2006, 2,000 Euros in October 2010, 2,200 Euros in October 2006, 3,600 Euros in April 2011.

Documents, Photographs and Autographs

Christie’s

  • Autograph letter signed to Rudolf Fuchs dated 1917, sold for £33,600 in July 2007.
  • Autograph postcard from Franz Kafka to Max Brod dated 1918, sold for £11,400 in July 2007.

*Portrait photograph of Franz Kafka, belonging to his mother. Sold for £13,750 in June 2009.

Sothebys

  • Autograph letter signed Franz to his friend Max Brod, dated 1918. Sold for £7,200 in December 2003.
  • Autograph letter signed Kafka, circa 1920, to poet Albert Ehrenstein, sold for $74,500 in December 2011.

Galerie Bassenge

  • A letter from Franz Kafka to Robert Musil dated 1914, sold for 47,000 Euros
  • A postcard from Franz Kafka to Max Brod dated 1908, sold for 23,000 Euros

Guide for collectors

First editions of Kafka, in both the original German and the early translations, are very sought-after. Letters and postcards, and memorabilia connected with Kafka’s life, is even more desired and valuable than his works. He represents so many different things to people: culturally, politically, psychologically… that the value of Kafka memorabilia goes deeper than acting as merely an investment.

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