While we’re on the subject of lists, here are the most expensive books ever sold on my spiritual home on the web: Abebooks (all prices plus postage and handling, of course).
Number one is not hard to believe but it doesn’t seem right, given the place-getters, and Tolkien would be horrified:
1 The Hobbit
Published in September 1937, this first edition first printing is in its original dust-jacket. Only 1,500 copies of the first edition were printed, and they were sold out by mid-December. Purchased by a buyer in Arizona from a New York bookseller.
2 Areopagitica: A Speech for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing To the Parliament of England
Published in 1644, this pamphlet by the author of Paradise Lost defended the freedom of the press. Purchased by a UK buyer from an American bookseller.
3 (Utopia) De optimo reip. statu, deque nova insula
Sir Thomas More
This 1518 fourth edition outlines More’s ideal state, and pleads for religious tolerance and universal education. Purchased by a UK buyer from an American bookseller.
4 Poems with elegies on the authors death
Little written by Donne appeared in print in his lifetime but hundreds of manuscript copies were circulated by hand. This 1633 first edition was the first collection of his poems. Purchased by a buyer in Pakistan from an American bookseller.