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First Edition

Book collectors seek out first editions as they represent the original form in which a book was originally published.

Signed and inscribed copies are even more desirable, and the ‘dedication copy’ – the copy which is inscribed to the person to whom the author dedicated the book – is more sought after still.


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Pick of the week: Rev Gilpin champions the Romantic ideal

30 November 2020

The artist, cleric, schoolmaster and author William Gilpin (1724-1804) is best known as a champion of the Romantic idea of the picturesque.

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Sticky situation is resolved

09 November 2020

An 1859 first of Darwin’s seminal work shrugs off condition issues to be a best-seller

First edition of Adam Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' sells in New York

26 October 2020

A 1776 first of Adam Smith’s '…Wealth of Nations' sold in a New York summer sale bore an understandably irritated inscription by the man to whom it had been gifted by its author.

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Eye-opening images feature in German auction

12 October 2020

An October 27-30 sale of more than 2800 lots at Reiss & Sohn of Königstein-im-Taunus includes a 1583 first of Georg Bartisch’s Opthalmodouleia…, a famous work on eye surgery that is also the first extensively illustrated account of any surgical speciality.

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Dalmations spotted as Dodie Smith books bring demand

21 September 2020

Inscribed copies of the works of Dodie Smith were among the attractions of a summer sale held by Stride & Son (18% buyer’s premium) of Chichester.

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First edition of Thomas Malthus’ essay on population and first Ethiopian edition of the New Testament leads German auction

14 September 2020

Always likely to produce one of the sale’s best results, a 1798 first of Thomas Malthus’ 'Essay on the Principle of Population' duly led the bidding in a recent German sale.

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Humphry Repton first edition on landscaping features at North Carolina auction

07 September 2020

On September 12 Brunk Auctions of Asheville, North Carolina, is holding a single-owner sale comprising the estate of William N Banks Junior from his Georgia property, Bankshaven.

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Kipling first edition equals auction record thanks to author’s signature

13 July 2020

The gilt decorated blue cloth binding showed signs of age, but a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s 'Captains Courageous, A Story of the Grand Banks' offered in a Philadelphia sale bore the author’s signature on the title-page.

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JK Rowling's children's classic dumped in a skip, now £33,000

22 June 2020

Harry Potter first deemed too scruffy by a public library brings a spellbinding result

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First edition of Mary Shelley’s 'The Last Man' offered in dealer's latest catalogue

15 June 2020

A rare first edition of the first fully realised post-apocalyptic tale is on offer in Peter Harrington’s inaugural fantasy and science-fiction catalogue, 'In Other Worlds'.

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Wide-ranging PG Wodehouse collection in Philadelphia features both popular and less well-known works

26 May 2020

Diligently researched and documented by a local collector, the late William Toplis, a wide-ranging PG Wodehouse collection offered by Freeman’s of Philadelphia featured books, manuscripts, artwork and much more besides.

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Sylvia Plath’s 'The Bell Jar' sells for £3000 at Surrey auction

16 March 2020

A copy of Sylvia Plath’s 'The Bell Jar' in a well-preserved dust jacket sold for £3000 in a recent Surrey auction may have set a record for any uninscribed or association copy.

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Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to auction at Christie’s with $4-6m estimate

13 January 2020

William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, often referred to as the ‘First Folio’, is regarded as the greatest work of the English language.

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Hammett hammers at joint record price

09 December 2019

A fine-looking copy of the 1931, US first of The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett sold right on the low estimate at $60,000 (£46,875) at Christie’s New York (25/20/13.5% buyer’s premium) to match a previous auction high.

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Eleven early Christmas Carols stored in a garage

02 December 2019

Although Charles Dickens is often credited with creating the ‘modern’ Christmas, some of the recognition should go to John Leech.

first quarto edition copy of ‘Macbeth: A Tragedy’

Charlton Heston’s 1673 copy of Macbeth returns to the market at Bonhams’ New York sale

27 November 2019

A 17th century copy of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ formerly owned by Charlton Heston (1923-2008) is reappearing at auction only three years after it sold from the actor’s collection.

Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ first edition

Hindman sets auction record for copy of Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’

08 November 2019

A record for a copy of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species came at Hindman’s sale of the library of a Midwestern collector in Chicago earlier this week.

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Harry Potter casts spell on bidders

04 November 2019

Code locked in a briefcase for two decades, a finely preserved, 1997 first issue of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally released this summer after being delivered by its Lancashire owners into the hands of a Derbyshire saleroom.

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First issue of James Joyce’s 'Ulysses' in Chicago sale

28 October 2019

Copy No 74 of the 100 signed, first issue copies of James Joyce’s 'Ulysses' is estimated at $120,000-180,000 in November 5 sale being held by Hindman of Chicago.

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Chelsea book fair previews – including Arthur Conan Doyle first edition

28 October 2019

The ABA Chelsea Rare Book Fair is one of two major London events held annually by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association.