Discover the incredible books that the world's richest collectors added to their bookshelves during 2014. You'll be amazed at how much people spend. Many of the most famous names in literature are found on our list, including Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Harper Lee, Salman Rushdie, JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, William Wordsworth, and Voltaire.

As always, art features prominently, with books illustrated by the likes of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse. Two copies of David Bailey's Box of Pin-ups - one of the quintessential photography books of the 1960s - are featured.

A collection of books displaying stunning posters from the turn of the century topped our list. Les Maîtres de L'Affiche was a French art magazine that reproduced the finest posters at the height of the Art Nouveau movement. More than 100 artists were featured including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, William Nicholson and Maxfield Parrish. This is also the only list that places Karl Marx's Das Kapital alongside a postcard from Mohandas Gandhi and the works of Winston Churchill.

 

The 50 Most Expensive Sales of 2014

1. Les Maîtres de L'Affiche (5 vols) - $43,450
This translates as Masters of the Poster, which was a monthly illustrated French publication published between December 1895 and November 1900. The magazine, produced under the leadership of Jules Cheret, contained reproductions of the best Art Nouveau posters of the era from both French and international artists. This is a five-volume collection featuring 256 posters from 97 artists.

2. Das Kapital by Karl Marx - $40,000
Published in 1867 by Otto Meissner with German text, this copy of Das Kapital was the only one published in Marx's lifetime (he died in 1883). The book is housed in a slipcover with cloth wrapping. It's not the first time that a copy of Das Kapital has sold for a high price via AbeBooks. In November 2011, a very rare copy in three volumes sold for $51,739. Interest in Marx's book, which arguably did indeed help change the world, remains as strong as ever.

3. Aquatilium animalium historiae, liber primus, cum eorundem formis, aere excusis by Ippolito Salviani - $22,638
Published in 1554, this rare Renaissance book contains 81 engravings of Mediterranean fish collected by Italian physician Ippolito Salviani from Rome's markets. The book was the first to use copper-engravings for illustrating marine life, which had previously been depicted by woodcuts. Salviani's patron and benefactor was Marcello Cervini, later pope Marcellus II. Salviani (1514-1572) was a professor of medicine and physician to three popes. The names of the fishes are listed in Latin, Greek and Vulgar Latin.

4. Call for the Dead by John le Carré - $22,500
A fine first edition, complete with a near fine yellow dust jacket, of le Carré's debut book, which introduced readers to George Smiley - the very British spy who uses brains rather than brawn in his Cold War tussles. Published in 1961 by Gollancz, the book is signed by the author, "David Cornwell aka John le Carré" on the title page.

5. La Dioptrique oculaire ou la théorique, la positive et la méchanique, de l'oculaire dioptrique en toutes ses espèces - $21,112
The most exhaustive treatise on lens making in the 17th century, examining the mechanics of all manner of eyepieces.

6 Recueil des Noticies et Mémoires de la Société Archéologique, Historique et Archéologique du Département de la Wilaya Constantine - $21,060
A 71-volume collection of richly illustrated magazines, covering 96 years, published by this prestigious French archaeological society.

7. Revue Africaine Société Historique Algérienne - $20,718
199 bound volumes of Algerian history from this French journal.

8. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll & illustrated by Salvador Dali - $20,000
The 1969 Maecenas Press/Random House edition, signed by the artist. The seller described the book 'as new' and its leather Solander box as 'fine'. Only 2,500 copies were produced, containing 12 memorable illustrations from the surrealist.

9. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway - $18,000
A first edition inscribed by the author to his friend Earl Snook, who he met while recovering in hostpital from an automobile accident in Billings, Montana. It reads, 'To Earl Snook- much, much affection from an old friend, Ernest Hemingway'.

10. Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae - $17,655
Abbreviated to LIMC, this encyclopedia catalogs representations of mythology in the plastic arts (ie sculpture or ceramics) of classical antiquity. Published from 1981 to 2009, this complete collection comes in eight double volumes.

11. Collection of Salman Rushdie first editions - $16,162
This collection contains a UK proof of the first edition of Midnight's Children, an inscribed first edition of Midnight's Children, an inscribed uncorrected proof copy of Shame, a promotional blad (mockup) of The Satanic Verses, and one of the two known copies of the wrappers to the Penguin edition of The Satanic Verses, and also a proof wrapper for The Satanic Verses.

12. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling - $15,956
An uncorrected proof in white with a yellow stripe, 224 pages long. It lists Joanne Rowling on the copyright page and J A Rowling on the title page.

13= Couleur Amour by Marc Chagall - $15,000
Color Love features 13 watercolors from Chagall. The first edition book, signed by the artist and published in 1958, contains a preface by Jean Cassou. Each piece of artwork is a reproduction of the original produced using pochoir - a stenciling process where colors are applied by hand.

13= Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck - $15,000
A 1935 Covici Friede first edition, complete with its dust jacket. Illustrated by Ruth Gannett, one of 4,000 copies, this was Steinbeck's breakthrough book. This copy is inscribed by the author to the head of the production department at Covici Friede.

13= Dune by Frank Herbert - $15,000
A 1965 signed first edition of this famous science fiction novel complete with its dust jacket. One of 4,000 first edition copies.

16. Box of Pin-Ups by David Bailey - $14,506
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1965, this is Bailey's debut masterpiece - a soft cover first edition. Bailey was just 27 at the time. The photo-book contains 36 images of celebrities and socialites from the Swinging Sixties, including Terence Stamp, The Beatles, Michael Caine, Mick Jagger (on the cover in a fur hoodie), Jean Shrimpton, P.J. Proby, Rudolph Nureyev, Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol and East End mobsters, the Kray Twins. Box of Pin-ups was not published in the USA due to the presence of the Krays in the book. The book shot Bailey to international stardom.

17. Indiae utriusque Re naturali et medica libri quatuordecim, Quorum contenta pagina sequens exhibet. (3 Parts) by Guilherme Piso - $14,170 Published in Amsterdam in 1658, this famous textbook contains around 650 fine wood-cut illustrations of fish, birds, plants, snakes, insects and other animals. This book was the only illustrated work of Brazilian natural history and native medicine until the 19th century. This work, sometimes called the second edition, is a revised and extended version of Historia Naturalis Brasiliae from 1648. Piso's work includes many descriptions of disease and native remedies. Piso became one of the earliest authorities on tropical medicine.

18. Ulysses by James Joyce - $13,850
The 1935 Limited Editions Club edition signed by Matisse, who provided illustrations, and the author. One of only 250 copies signed by this legendary duo.

19. The Book of Kells (Facsimile edition) - $13,673
A faithful facsimile of the manuscript in Dublin's Trinity College. The facsimile is housed in a box and includes original Latin text and commentary, in German, on this historic illuminated Gospel book written by Celtic monks around 800. The foreword is by Umberto Eco. No. 467 of 1480 copies. Published in 1990.

20. Da Costa Hours: Limited Facsimile Edition - $13,415
A deluxe facsimile edition of Flemish illuminator Simon Bening's 1515 Da Costa Hours, produced in 2011 by Austrian publisher ADEVA. This facsimile edition, which includes 112 beautifully reproduced illuminations, is protected by a handmade cover of top quality green leather with two silver clasps, including a true-to-the-original reproduction of the red leather case with gold embossing.

21. Institutiones Calculi Differentialis cum eius usu in Analysi Finitorum ac Doctrina Serierum by Leonhard Euler - $13,055 Published in 1755, this is the first substantial textbook on the differential calculus. Euler (1707-1783) was one of the pioneers of modern mathematics, and defined many mathematical terms in use today. Euler began writing this work in St. Petersburg and completed it in Berlin in 1750.

22. An Illuminated Quran manuscript - $13,002
Published around 1823. This book has black ink on Ottoman polished paper, borders in blue and gold and margins decorated with flowers, and is complete with its original morocco slipcase. It's a typical Quran published for private use by the middle classes during this period, with beautiful calligraphy and illumination.

23= Daphne - by Alfred de Vigny - $12,500
Published in 1924 by F.L. Schmied, this book contains 49 color wood engravings by Francois-Louis Schmied and is considered an Art Deco masterpiece thanks to its abstract illustrations and rich use of color. De Vigny (1797-1863) was a French poet, playwright and novelist. This novel was published posthumously in 1912. One of only 140 copies which were signed by F.L. Schmied.

23= Auguste Rodin by Rainer Maria Rilke - $12,500
Published in 1903, this first edition sees the poet Rilke describe the skills and work of Rodin. Rilke dedicated this copy to Basque painter Ignacio Zuloaga with the following inscription: "Credo: A Ignacio Zuloaga. A son oeuvre. Rainer Maria Rilke. Viareggio prés Pise (Italie) en avril, 1903." Zuloaga's bookplate is present.

23= Toros y Toreros by Pablo Picasso - $12,500
Published in Paris by Editions Cercle d'Art in 1961, this is Picasso's famous book of bullfighting-inspired art. This first edition is one of 150 copies of a deluxe edition. The book is dated and signed by the artist in pencil.

26. Symbolae Physicae Icones et Descriptiones Insectorum quae ex Itinere per Africam Borealem et Asiam Occidentalem Friderici Guilelmi Hemprich et Christiani Godofredi Ehrenberg . Studio Novae aut Illustratae redierunt by F.G Hemprich and C.G.Ehrenberg - $12,335
Published in 1829 in five volumes with 50 fine hand-colored engraved plates, this is a very rare copy of a seminal work on the insects of western Asia and northern Africa. The authors travelled widely between 1820 and 1825 to gather the book's content.

27= The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot - $11,500
A rare first edition of an influential 1584 text questioning the persecution of those accused of witchcraft. Because the book blamed that persecution on the Catholic Church, it was ordered burned when James I ascended the English throne in 1603.

27= Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Salvador Dali - $11,500
The 1969 Random House edition signed by Dali, who provided 12 color plates. This is number 533 of 2,500 copies. Similar copies sold for $20,000 in January 2014 and $7,650 in November 2013.

29. A postcard signed by Mohandas Gandhi - $11,067
Autographed postcard to the opera singer Marie Antoinette Sher-Gil, whose daughter, the painter Amrita Sher-Gil, had died on the 5 December 1941: "Dear Sister, I was sorry to learn about your daughter's death. May God give you strength to bear the loss."

30. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - $11,000
A second edition and 11th overall impression. Signed by Tolkien on the title page. The book and its jacket are in near fine condition.

31. Con L'espositione Di Christoforo Landino, et Di Alessandro Vellutello, Sopra la Sua Comedia Dell' Inferno, Del Purgatorio, & Del Paradiso. Con Tauole, Argomenti, & Allegorie, & Riformato, Riueduto, & Ridotto Alla Sua Uere Lettura, Per Francesco Sansovino Fiorentino by Alighieri Dante - $10,450
A beautifully illustrated 16th-century Italian edition of Dante's Divine Comedy. This 'Sansovino' edition, from 1564, is bound in mid-20th century red morocco with a spine in seven compartments. This book provides two commentaries on Dante's famous text and a 'Big Nose' portrait of Dante on the title page.

32. Beschreibung und Abbildung der kunstlichen Nester und Eier der Vogel, welche inder Schweiz, in Deutschland und den Angranzenden Handern Bruten by Heinrich Rudolf Schinz - $10,325
A book depicting birds' eggs and nests in Germany and Switzerland, published in Zurich in 1819 with 74 full-page hand-colored engravings.

33. Apollo 11 Large Color Photo - Signed - $10,031
Color photo of Buzz Aldrin standing next to a seismic experiment on the moon with the Lunar Module Eagle and U.S. flag prominent in the background. It is mounted to a 20" x 16" board signed by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, and inscribed, "To His Royal Highness/ Prince Bernhard/ of the Netherlands/ From The Apollo 11 Crew".

34= Femmes et Faunes by Antonina Vallentin - $10,000
Published in 1956 in Paris, this is a portfolio of 13 pochoirs of drawings 'after Pablo Picasso', which means in the style of Picasso. Printed on wove paper, this limited edition is one of 200 copies. Femmes et Faunes translates as women and wildlife.

34= The First Collected Works of Sir Winston Churchill - $10,000
The 1973 Centenary limited edition of Churchill's works, one of only 3,000 sets in 38 volumes. Boards gilt-stamped with the Churchill coat of arms, all edges gilt, marbled endpapers, original dark green slipcases.

34= The Walls And Gates Of Peking Researches And Impressions by Osvald Siren - $10,000
Published in 1924, the work combines the beautiful photogravures after photographs taken by Siren with illustrations of measured drawings of a number of the gates made by Chinese artists under Siren's supervision, and historical and descriptive text.

34= Principia Philosophiae (bound with) Specimina Philosophiae: Seu Dissertatio De Methodo Recte regendae rationis, & veritatis in scientiis investigandae: Dioptrice Et Meteora by Rene Descartes - $10,000
Published in Amsterdam in 1644. Two works in one volume, both first Latin editions. Principia details Descartes' system of physics, including his theory of vortices. This book, where he states we are circling the sun, is the starting point for all serious work in physical theory in the mid-17th century, including Isaac Newton's. Specimina is Descartes' most famous work is which he describes that true knowledge must come from the work of a single person and that all existing philosophical learnings should be doubted. Descartes was arguably the first modern philosopher and one of the first modern scientists.

34= Twenty-five books from an exhibition at the Rhode Island School of Design by Dieter Roth - $10,000
Roth (1930-1998) was a Swiss artist known for art delivered in the form of books. The 1986 exhibition was simply called 'Dieter Roth at The Rhode Island School of Design'. Roth had been a teacher at the college in the mid-1960s. The collection was given to a former faculty member who was a friend of the artist. Each book has a hole through the entire binding near the top left hand corner. Roth usually hung his 'artist books' from chains suspended from the ceiling. Some of the books are signed or inscribed.

39. Le Tableau des Riches inventions Couuertes du voile des feintes Amoureuses, qui font representees dans le Songe De Poliphile desvoilees des ombres du songe, & subtilement exposees par Beroalde - $9,958
Published in 1600, this book features a series of woodcuts depicting Poliphile's Dream, a curious Renaissance love story originally written in 1467.

40. The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches by Mark Twain - $9,950
First edition of Mark Twain's first book, a collection of short stories. The title story was Twain's first major success as a writer.

41. Lyrical Ballads, With Other Poems by William Wordsworth - $9,893
In two volumes. Published in 1800, this first edition is believed to be one of only around 500 copies. This book heralded the entry of the Romantic Movement into English poetry. Wordsworth wrote in the preface, "All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings emotion recollected in tranquility."

42= Box of Pin-Ups by David Bailey - $9,500 Another copy of Bailey's photography from the 1960s.

42= American Woods (Parts 1-9) by Romeyn B Hough - $9,500
Nine of 14 parts, published from 1893 to 1903, the 14th book was published after Hough's death in 1924. This rare book offers transverse, radial, and tangential wafer-thin cross-sections samples of common American trees. It shows readers how to identify trees by looking at the grain. Complete sets are scarce as buyers tended to purchase volumes for particular regions. More than a thousand different trees are detailed across the series.

44. Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor - $9,250
The 1952 first edition of the author's first book, a so-called example of Southern Gothic, with its dust jacket. Inscribed to old friends, "For Reid and Hildy / Flannery O'Connor." Reid Broderick was a doctor and his wife, Hildegarde, was a socialite in Savannah. They were close friends of O'Connor's cousin and patron, Kate Flannery Semmes, who lived next-door to the O'Connors.

45. Oeuvres Completes de Voltaire (70 vols) - $9,198
The complete works of Voltaire, France's great writer, philosopher and thinker (1694-1778). His real name was François-Marie Arouet. Printed between 1784 and 1789, these books in French are bound in full mottled calf.

46. Metallotheca by Michele Mercati - $9,164
A posthumous publication of Michele Mercati's (1541-1593) studies in natural history, mineralogy, palaeontology, medicine, and botany. Published in 1717.

47. Complete Works on Architecture and Perspective by Sebastiano Serlio - $9,151
A key architectural handbook and the first to be a practical guide to the classical Greco-Roman style. Five parts in one volume. Published in 1611, this is the first English edition of Tutte L'Opere D'Architettura, Et Prospetiva. It was translated from Italian to Dutch and then into English, and includes 500 woodcut illustrations. This is the earliest work on architecture in the English language. The work is dedicated to Henry, Prince of Wales and the translation was probably by Robert Peake.

48. The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia by David Roberts - $9,140
Roberts was the first professional artist to visit the Middle East without the backing of a patron or the military. He travelled for 11 months up the Nile and through Egypt until reaching Jerusalem in 1839. He recorded landscapes, temples, ruins, and people in three sketchbooks. This artwork was published in three volumes. This edition was published in 1855.

49. Les Délices de Versailles et des Maisons Royales by Charles-Antoine Jombert - $9,125
Published in 1766, this first edition offers more than 200 illustrations of Versailles and other French royal palaces including Saint Cyr, Trianon and Chantilly. Jombert, the publisher, provided brief descriptions while the artwork came from Gabriel Pérelle and his son, Adam. Jombert published the book after recovering the original copper plates produced by Gabriel Pérelle, who died in 1677.

50. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - $9,000
A first edition, first printing of this classic novel, complete with its dust jacket, published in 1960 and still going strong today.


If you were offered $50,000, but only to spend on a book, what book would you buy?