As the 200th anniversary of his birth approaches on Saturday, the first edition is on display at Peter Harrington Rare Books in London where it is offered for £100,000.
“Marx would certainly have raised a thick black eyebrow at our price, although he understood perfectly that the capitalist system tended to produce high-priced luxury goods,” says the gallery’s Adam Douglas. “Marx spent most of his adult life in poverty but he was a firm believer in the power of literature to change minds.”
He published the book (properly titled Capital. Critique of Political Economy) in Hamburg in 1867 following 25 years of study. Making use of materialist philosophy, economics and politics he illustrated capitalism and its transformation of the world’s societies. The volume on offer is the first of three and the only one released during his lifetime; the second and third were completed and published by his friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels in 1885 and 1894.
Douglas adds: “It was not seen at the time as a harbinger of revolution, but was read with interest by sober German bankers and financiers, and was even issued in serial form. It found an eager readership in St Petersburg and was soon translated into Russian, where Marxist theories would have their most dramatic effect.”
It is overall a clean copy with the corners lightly worn and bruised and some splitting to the front joint.
The gallery also has first edition copies of the second and third volumes of Das Kapital on offer for £3000 and £1250 respectively.