When dedicated bibliophiles want to purchase a book, they generally turn to AbeBooks rather than Amazon Marketplace or ebay. AbeBooks was founded in Victoria, British Columbia, as the Advanced Book Exchange in 1995 by four bibliophiles. The company was acquired by Amazon in 2008. The site lists more than 140 million books from thousands of independent booksellers, many former brick-and-mortar establishments, from more than 50 countries.
Each year, AbeBooks publishes the list of the most expensive rare books sold on the site, providing a glimpse into what books have come onto the market and what bibliophiles are willing to pay for their Holy Grails. Despite how high these numbers are, they pale in comparison to the price that bibliophiles pay for exceptionally rare and valuable books that are only sold at auction or through private broker sales.
1. Les Maîtres de L’Affiche (1895-1900), $43,450
A collection of a monthly illustrated French magazine (“Masters of the Poster”) that featured 256 of the best Art Nouveau posters by artists around the world.
2. Das Kapital (1867) by Karl Marx, $40,000
A rare edition that is housed in a slipcover with cloth wrapping, it was the only edition published in Marx’s lifetime.
3. Aquatilium animalium historiae, liber primus, cum eorundem formis, aere excusis (1554) by Ippolito Salviani, $22,638
A rare Renaisssance book containing engravings of 81 Mediterranean fish. What makes this book unique is that the illustrations were printed from engraved copper plates, as opposed to woodcuts. Salviani was physician to three popes and a professor of medicine.
4. Call for the Dead (1961) by John Le Carré, $22,500
A fine first edition (and a near fine dust jacket) of Le Carré debut novel that introduces British spy, George Smiley. The title page includes an inscription by the master of espionage fiction.
5. La Dioptrique oculaire ou la théorique, la positive et la méchanique, de l’oculaire dioptrique en toutes ses espèces by Cherubin d’Orleans, $21,112
A comprehensive treatise on the mechanics of eyepieces and the making of lenses and telescopes in the 17th century. The book is 600 pages long; the first part focuses on (pun intended) the theory of vision, while the second part discusses the theory of the telescope.
For further reading: www.abebooks.com/rare-books/most-expensive-sales/year-2014.shtml?cm_mmc=nl-_-nl-_-C141215-h00-mst214AX-121214TG-_-01cta&abersp=1