Auctions | July 29, 2013

Auction Records for H.G. Wells, Conan Doyle, and Orwell at Swann Galleries


New York—Setting a new auction record in Swann Galleries’ June 20 auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature was a first English edition of H.G. Wells’s The First Men in the Moon, in the very scarce original dust jacket, which brought $26,400*.

The auction saw several lots achieve record prices, including a first edition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, which soared to a remarkable $22,800, well above its $6,000 to $9,000 estimate; George Orwell’s first novel Burmese Days at $16,800; the elusive Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller brought an unmatched $6,000; and Jules Verne’s De La Terre a la Lune, Trajet direct en 97 heures, Paris, 1865, $5,520.

A first edition of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, New York, 1930, matched the price for the Wells book at $26,400; and other high-priced titles were two William Faulkner first editions, The Sound and the Fury, New York, 1929, $24,000, and Soldiers’ Pay, New York, 1926, $18,000; and Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, first limited edition, Paris, 1924, $24,000, and Three Stories & Ten Poems, first edition, Paris, 1923, $14,400.


Signed editions of classic works included John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, first edition, New York, 1939 and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, first edition, signed and inscribed in the year of publication, Philadelphia and New York, 1960, each $15,600; Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, first edition, New York, 1936, $14,400; Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, first limited edition, New York, 1953, $6,720; and a signed and inscribed uncorrected proof of Graham Greene’s murder thriller Brighton Rock, London, 1938, $6,240.

Two editions of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn brought competitive prices, with a first American edition in publisher’s deluxe binding, New York, 1885, selling for $7,800 and first edition in green cloth, also New York, 1885, $6,720.

Rounding out the top lots were Charles Dickens, The Personal History of David Copperfield, first edition in parts, London, 1849-50, $5,520; F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, first edition, New York, 1934, $6,000; and Raymond Chandler, Farwell, My Lovely, first edition, New York, 1940, $6,000.

For complete results, an illustrated auction catalogue, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to consign items to Swann’s upcoming auctions of 19th & 20th Century Literature, please contact John Larson at 212-254-4710, extension 61, or via e-mail at

 *All prices include buyer’s premium.

First image: H.G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon, first English edition, in dust jacket, London, 1901, sold for a record $26,400.

Second image: George Orwell, Burmese Days, first edition, New York, 1934, sold for a record $16,800.