Collectibles

Science and sci-fi memorabilia booming at auction

Science and sci-fi memorabilia...
This Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color 10" x 8" print sold for $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on 24 September 2021
This Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color 10" x 8" print sold for $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on 24 September 2021
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A first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein sold at Christie’s on 14 September 2021 for $1.17 million. The three-volume set broke the auction record for a printed work by a woman that had been set by Bonhams in 2008, when a first edition of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel Emma sold for £180,000. The record prior to Emma was also held by Jane Austen at £114,000 for a first edition of Wuthering Heights set in November, 2007.
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A first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein sold at Christie’s on 14 September 2021 for $1.17 million. The three-volume set broke the auction record for a printed work by a woman that had been set by Bonhams in 2008, when a first edition of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel Emma sold for £180,000. The record prior to Emma was also held by Jane Austen at £114,000 for a first edition of Wuthering Heights set in November, 2007.
The original anonymous publication of this work on 1 January 1818 saw just 500 copies printed of the three-volume set. A French translation appeared in 1821, the second English edition was published in two volumes in 1823 following the success of the stage play Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein with Mary Shelley credited as the book's author. In 1831, the first "popular" edition in one volume appeared. Exactly a century later, the Universal Pictures 1931 feature film Frankenstein was released on 21 November 1931 and from that point forth, Frankenstein quickly claimed a spot in global popular culture.
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The original anonymous publication of this work on 1 January 1818 saw just 500 copies printed of the three-volume set. A French translation appeared in 1821, the second English edition was published in two volumes in 1823 following the success of the stage play Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein with Mary Shelley credited as the book's author. In 1831, the first "popular" edition in one volume appeared. Exactly a century later, the Universal Pictures 1931 feature film Frankenstein was released on 21 November 1931 and from that point forth, Frankenstein quickly claimed a spot in global popular culture.
This first edition "Astronomia nova" by Johannes Kepler was sold by Christie'sfor $687,500 against an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 on 16 October 2021
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This first edition "Astronomia nova" by Johannes Kepler was sold by Christie's
for $687,500 against an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 on 16 October 2021

This fine first edition of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin is generally regarded as "the most important single work in science." It sold for $300,000 at a Christie’s auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000
4/20
This fine first edition of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin is generally regarded as "the most important single work in science." It sold for $300,000 at a Christie’s auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
5/20
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
6/20
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
7/20
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
8/20
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
9/20
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
10/20
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
This is early manuscript copy of Matteo Ricci's monumental wall map sold for $200,000 at a Christie's online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000
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This is early manuscript copy of Matteo Ricci's monumental wall map sold for $200,000 at a Christie's online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000
“An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the Future Improvement of Society” was published in 1798 and had a profound effect on society, influencing theorists from Ricardo to Mill and Marx. This First Edition sold for $187,500 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021
12/20
“An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the Future Improvement of Society” was published in 1798 and had a profound effect on society, influencing theorists from Ricardo to Mill and Marx. This First Edition sold for $187,500 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021
This stunning second edition copy of “Description de l'Egypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'Egypte” (1820-1830) sold for $175,000 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000
13/20
This stunning second edition copy of “Description de l'Egypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'Egypte” (1820-1830) sold for $175,000 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000
This book is a First Edition 1632 copy of “Dialogo” by Galileo Galilei, the book which caused his trial and imprisonment. It sold for $137,500 at an online Christie's auction on 16 October 2021, against an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000
14/20
This book is a First Edition 1632 copy of “Dialogo” by Galileo Galilei, the book which caused his trial and imprisonment. It sold for $137,500 at an online Christie's auction on 16 October 2021, against an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000
This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of “The Chessmen of Mars” (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 88.3 x 62.2 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021
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This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of “The Chessmen of Mars” (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 88.3 x 62.2 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021
This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of "At the Earth's Core" (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 83.8 x 59.1 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021
16/20
This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of "At the Earth's Core" (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 83.8 x 59.1 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021
This illustration by Mathieu Lauffray was made for the cover of the comic “Star Wars: Heir to the Empire” (Dark Horse Comics, 1995). It sold for $143,750 at Heritage Auctions on 3 October 2021
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This illustration by Mathieu Lauffray was made for the cover of the comic “Star Wars: Heir to the Empire” (Dark Horse Comics, 1995). It sold for $143,750 at Heritage Auctions on 3 October 2021
This selection of nine pipes and a menorah pipe holder owned and used by Albert Einstein sold for $125,000 at RR Auction on 25 September 2021 against an estimate of $50,000+.
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This selection of nine pipes and a menorah pipe holder owned and used by Albert Einstein sold for $125,000 at RR Auction on 25 September 2021 against an estimate of $50,000+.
This Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color 10" x 8" print sold for $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on 24 September 2021
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This Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color 10" x 8" print sold for $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on 24 September 2021
"Novum ac magnum theatrum urbium Belgicae" plus "Belgicae liberae ac foederatae, two townbooks of the newly independent Netherlands produced by master craftsman Joan Blaeu in 1649 sold for $123,154 (€85,000 plus buyers premium) at Marc van de Wiele Auctions on 2 October 2021
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"Novum ac magnum theatrum urbium Belgicae" plus "Belgicae liberae ac foederatae, two townbooks of the newly independent Netherlands produced by master craftsman Joan Blaeu in 1649 sold for $123,154 (€85,000 plus buyers premium) at Marc van de Wiele Auctions on 2 October 2021
View gallery - 20 images

It would be reasonable to expect that it might be a slow year at auction for science, technology and science-fiction, but 2021 is on track for a record. So far this year we have seen Isaac Newton's revisions to Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica sell in London for £1,702,500 (about US$2,350,000), an Albert Einstein letter with his famous E=mc2 equation in his handwriting sell for $1,243,707, a copy of Edward S. Curtis’ The North American Indian fetch $950,000, a Steve Jobs-signed Apple II Manual sell for $787,484 and an Apollo Guidance Computer fetch $746,000 ... and the next month promises as much again.

In recent weeks there has been a slew of knowledge-related objects of note hitting the auction block with several major auctions in the last few weeks, and a host of major auctions over the next few weeks.

Just prior to the publication of several major auction previews, we thought we'd bring you up to date with the last month of science-related auctions and the record prices achieved.

$1,170,000 | Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (1818)

A first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein sold at Christie’s on 14 September 2021 for $1.17 million. The three-volume set broke the auction record for a printed work by a woman that had been set by Bonhams in 2008, when a first edition of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel Emma sold for £180,000. The record prior to Emma was also held by Jane Austen at £114,000 for a first edition of Wuthering Heights set in November, 2007.
A first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein sold at Christie’s on 14 September 2021 for $1.17 million. The three-volume set broke the auction record for a printed work by a woman that had been set by Bonhams in 2008, when a first edition of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel Emma sold for £180,000. The record prior to Emma was also held by Jane Austen at £114,000 for a first edition of Wuthering Heights set in November, 2007.

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $200,000 - $300,000
Official Auction Page      
Although it is generally regarded to be the first novel of the science fiction genre, when Christie's sold this First Edition Frankenstein last month, it shattered expectations ($200,000 to $300,000) and smashed records.

The story of Frankenstein came to life one night in 1816 in the Villa Diodati, Lord Byron's escape on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Bryon, the soon-to-wed Mary and Percy Shelley, John Polidori, and Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont, passed three days there during the "Year Without a Summer" in 1816. The cold and rain kept the group sequestered in the house, keeping warm by the fire and challenging each other to craft new and thrilling horror stories.

The original anonymous publication of this work on 1 January 1818 saw just 500 copies printed of the three-volume set. A French translation appeared in 1821, the second English edition was published in two volumes in 1823 following the success of the stage play Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein with Mary Shelley credited as the book's author. In 1831, the first "popular" edition in one volume appeared. Exactly a century later, the Universal Pictures 1931 feature film Frankenstein was released on 21 November 1931 and from that point forth, Frankenstein quickly claimed a spot in global popular culture.
The original anonymous publication of this work on 1 January 1818 saw just 500 copies printed of the three-volume set. A French translation appeared in 1821, the second English edition was published in two volumes in 1823 following the success of the stage play Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein with Mary Shelley credited as the book's author. In 1831, the first "popular" edition in one volume appeared. Exactly a century later, the Universal Pictures 1931 feature film Frankenstein was released on 21 November 1931 and from that point forth, Frankenstein quickly claimed a spot in global popular culture.

From the gloom and shadows of this evening would be born the beginnings of Byron's unfinished vampire tale, Polidori's The Vampire (inspired by Byron's Fragment), and Frankenstein. Though at first the response to a friendly writing challenge, Mary went on to expand and develop the story extensively with insight from her husband, examining themes of loss, defying nature, guilt, and parental guidance, that played a significant role in her own life. Both the story and the preface of the first edition were published anonymously, though Mary was credited as the author in the second edition and she attributed the first edition Preface to Percy in her introduction for the Bentley's Standard Novel edition (1831).

In addition to the record-breaking Christie's sale, a second First Edition copy of Frankenstein (Official Auction Page) sold at Heritage Auctions last week for $162,500.

$687,500 | "Astronomia nova" by Johannes Kepler (1609)

This first edition "Astronomia nova" by Johannes Kepler was sold by Christie'sfor $687,500 against an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 on 16 October 2021
This first edition "Astronomia nova" by Johannes Kepler was sold by Christie's
for $687,500 against an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000 on 16 October 2021

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $200,000 - $300,000
Official Auction Page      
Astronomia nova is one of the most significant books in the history of astronomy and contains the results of Kepler's 10-year-long investigation into the motion of Mars, providing strong arguments for heliocentrism and contributing valuable insight into the movement of the planets.

This included his first two laws of planetary motion, in which the orbits of planets are shown to be elliptic rather than circular, demonstrated by his calculations of the orbit of Mars, and the law of equal areas, which shows that the planets move faster when they are closer to the sun. This work enabled Newton to form his own laws of motion and universal gravitation and the laws of Kepler and Newton became the basis of celestial mechanics.

This is far and away a record price for Johannes Kepler's masterpiece of modern astronomy, first published in 1609 and boldy entitled “The New Astronomy.” The previous highest price was achieved by Sotheby's in 2014 when a first edition fetched £212,500 (US$357,275) in London. Caspar characterizes this work as "Eines des grössten Meisterwerke der Naturwissenschaften aller Zeiten!"(One of the greatest natural science masterpieces of all time!).

$300,000 | "Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin (1859)

This fine first edition of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin is generally regarded as "the most important single work in science." It sold for $300,000 at a Christie’s auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000
This fine first edition of “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin is generally regarded as "the most important single work in science." It sold for $300,000 at a Christie’s auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000
Official Auction Page
Charles Darwin's masterwork, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, is unquestionably one of the most important books ever published.

Just 1,200 copies were printed of the first edition of this book, and given its landmark status, it isn't surprising that nearly 100 of those have sold for more than $100,000 each over the last few decades.

Remarkably, the highest price ever fetched by this book was not a presentation copy, or even a first edition copy, but a copy of the third edition, which had Darwin's hand-written revisions in the margins. As the 23 known presentation copies are all devoid of any inscriptions by Darwin's own hand, the third edition copy sold for $1,054,100 (£788,75) at a Christie's auction on December 13, 2017. For those who don't have a lazy $300,000, there's a full copy of this famous work available on the internet.

$237,500 | "Theatrum orbis terrarium" by Abraham Ortelius (1592)

“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000
“Theatrum orbis terrarium” by Abraham Ortelius, was the first modern world atlas. It was hand-colored and heightened in gold, and sold for $237,500 at a Christie's auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Official Auction Page      
Abraham Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) consists of two distinct elements - text and maps - and this format had not been done prior to this publication, meaning Ortelius created the first modern atlas in 1570. It was the first time that a collection of maps of similar design and scale were bound into one volume. The name ‘atlas’ derived from Atlas in Greek mythology who held up the world on his shoulders.

Theatrum was the most expensive book of its day, yet became a runaway bestseller, going into 37 editions and seven languages. The first edition came out in 1570 with 50 maps, and as cartographic knowledge increased rapidly during this period, so did the number of maps in each subsequent edition.

Ortelius is also believed to be the first person to imagine that the continents of the world were joined prior to drifting to their present positions.

The record price fetched for a copy of this book was set in July 2000, when an illuminated copy bound as a gift from Cosimo II de' Medici fetched $419,240. A very rare English edition of this work is currently for sale at Arader Galleries in New York for $650,000.

$200,000 | Ricci world map on a Japanese screen (late 17th or early 18th century)

This is early manuscript copy of Matteo Ricci's monumental wall map sold for $200,000 at a Christie's online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000
This is early manuscript copy of Matteo Ricci's monumental wall map sold for $200,000 at a Christie's online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $60,000 to $90,000

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $60,000 - $90,000
Official Auction Page      
Matteo Ricci was an Italian Jesuit priest and missionary who arrived at the Portuguese settlement of Macau in. By adopting the language and culture of the country, he gained favour in China, which was normally closed to foreigners, and his skills as an astronomer and cartographer saw him gain enormous influence with the Wanli Emperor, becoming the first European to enter the Forbidden City of Beijing in 1601.

Ricci also worked with several Chinese elites, such as Xu Guangqi, in translating Euclid's Elements into Chinese as well as the Confucian classics into Latin for the first time in history.

Though Ricci was a notable pioneer in attempting mutual comprehension between China and the West, it is his cartographic achievements that he is best known for. He created the first European-style world map in Chinese ("Da Ying Quan Tu" or “Complete Map of the Great World”) in 1584 with a much improved and expanded version known as the Kunyu Wanguo Quantu in 1602. These maps helped put China’s geographical relationship to the rest of the world in perspective.

This is an early manuscript copy of Ricci's monumental wall map executed by a skilled Japanese copyist.

$187,500 | "Essay on the Principle of Population" by Thomas Malthus (1798)

“An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the Future Improvement of Society” was published in 1798 and had a profound effect on society, influencing theorists from Ricardo to Mill and Marx. This First Edition sold for $187,500 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021
“An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the Future Improvement of Society” was published in 1798 and had a profound effect on society, influencing theorists from Ricardo to Mill and Marx. This First Edition sold for $187,500 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $100,000 - $150,000
Official Auction Page      
This is a First Edition of Malthus's famous economic treatise regarding the relationship between food supply and population. With the full title of An Essay on the Principle of Population, as it affects the Future Improvement of Society suggests that the population of a community increases geometrically, while food supplies increase arithmetically.

He theorizes that humans have a propensity to utilize abundance for population growth rather than for maintaining a high standard of living, and that as an increase in population occurs, the food supply becomes insufficient and populations tend to grow until the lower class suffers hardship, want and greater susceptibility to famine and disease.

$175,000 | Description de l'Egypte (1820-1830)

This stunning second edition copy of “Description de l'Egypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'Egypte” (1820-1830) sold for $175,000 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000
This stunning second edition copy of “Description de l'Egypte ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Egypte pendant l'expédition de l'Egypte” (1820-1830) sold for $175,000 at a Christie’s online auction on 16 October 2021 against an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $150,000 - $250,000
Official Auction Page
The Description de l'Égypte (Description of Egypt) was a series of publications, appearing first in 1809 and continuing until the final volume appeared in 1829, which aimed to comprehensively catalog all known aspects of ancient and modern Egypt as well as its natural history. It is the collaborative work of about 160 civilian scholars and scientists, known popularly as the savants, who accompanied Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt in 1798 to 1801 as part of the French Revolutionary Wars, as well as about 2000 artists and technicians, including 400 engravers, who would later compile it into a full work.

The auctioned copy at Christie's last week was formerly Baron de Nervo's copy, described as a rare complete set of the second edition, handsomely bound with custom display cabinet.

The record price for a complete First Edition set of Description de l'Egypte was set at EUR1,095,400 at a Christie’s auction in May 2011.

$150,000 | "At the Earth's Core" dust jacket illustration (1922)

This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of "At the Earth's Core" (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 83.8 x 59.1 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021
This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of "At the Earth's Core" (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 83.8 x 59.1 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021

Sold by: Heritage
Estimate: Not Available
Official Auction Page
This Oil on board illustration by James Allen St. John measuring 33 x 23-1/4 inches (83.8 x 59.1 cm) was published as the first edition hardcover dust jacket for At the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs (A.C. McClurg & Co., 1922). Edgar Rice Burroughs was a prolific and highly successful writer in the first half of last century, with his best known characters being Tarzan of the Apes and John Carter of Mars.

$143,750 | "Star Wars: Heir to the Empire" cover illustration by Mathieu Lauffray (1995)

This illustration by Mathieu Lauffray was made for the cover of the comic “Star Wars: Heir to the Empire” (Dark Horse Comics, 1995). It sold for $143,750 at Heritage Auctions on 3 October 2021
This illustration by Mathieu Lauffray was made for the cover of the comic “Star Wars: Heir to the Empire” (Dark Horse Comics, 1995). It sold for $143,750 at Heritage Auctions on 3 October 2021

Sold by: Heritage
Estimate: Not Available
Official Auction Page
This image comes direct from the private collection of the artist, Mathieu Lauffray. According to Lauffray, "we are in 1995, Olivier Vatine and Fred Blanchard offered me the unthinkable. Make the covers of their Star Wars comic book, for the Dark Horse Comics editions. Star Wars was hands down the most important work of fiction to me. I discovered the trilogy indoors, in 1977, 1980, and 1983. The world was never the same afterwards. During this miraculous collaboration, I received feedback, remarks, and validations from Lucasfilm and Dark Horse as sacred relics. During this collaboration, everything was good in trying to convey to the public my passion for this universe which had given me so much. I painted, I did all I could, and never have I been more enthusiastic in my life as a fan."

$150,000 | "The Chessmen of Mars" dust jacket illustration (1922)

This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of “The Chessmen of Mars” (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 88.3 x 62.2 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021
This illustration by James Allen St. John was created for the book dust jacket of “The Chessmen of Mars” (1922). The painting is oil on board and measures 88.3 x 62.2 cm. It sold for $150,000 at Heritage Auctions on 4 October 2021

Sold by: Heritage
Estimate: Not Available
Official Auction Page
This Oil on board illustration by James Allen St. John measuring 34-3/4 x 24-1/2 inches (88.3 x 62.2 cm) was published as the first edition hardcover dust jacket for The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (A.C. McClurg & Co., 1922).

$137,500 | Dialogo by Galileo Galilei (1632)

This book is a First Edition 1632 copy of “Dialogo” by Galileo Galilei, the book which caused his trial and imprisonment. It sold for $137,500 at an online Christie's auction on 16 October 2021, against an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000
This book is a First Edition 1632 copy of “Dialogo” by Galileo Galilei, the book which caused his trial and imprisonment. It sold for $137,500 at an online Christie's auction on 16 October 2021, against an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000

Sold by: Christie's
Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000
Official Auction Page
Given that Dialogo ... sopre i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano is Galilei's famous defense of Copernican heliocentrism and the direct cause of his trial and imprisonment, it is surprising that this book has not achieved much higher prices at auction.

Galileo's formal use of the dialogue allowed him to explore his Copernican theories fully within the rubric of the "equal and impartial discussion" required by Pope Urban VIII. The work "was designed both as an appeal to the great public and as an escape from silence... it is a masterly polemic for the new science. It displays all the great discoveries in the heavens which the ancients had ignored; it inveighs against the sterility, willfulness, and ignorance of those who defend their systems; it revels in the simplicity of Copernican thought and, above all, it teaches that the movement of the Earth makes sense in philosophy, that is, in physics... The Dialogo, more than any other work, made the heliocentric system a commonplace" (PMM).

Pope Urban VIII was not so swayed, and immediately convened a special commission to examine the book and make recommendations. In casting the Pope as the simple-minded Aristotelian Simplicius, Galileo brought upon himself arrest, trial by the Inquisition and life imprisonment. The sentence was commuted to permanent house arrest, while the printing of any of his works was forbidden.

Christie’s holds the record price for a copy of Dialogo at $173,000 set in 2014 and this copy is now the second-most expensive ever sold at auction.

$125,000 | Nine of Albert Einstein's Pipes and his Menorah Pipe Holder

This selection of nine pipes and a menorah pipe holder owned and used by Albert Einstein sold for $125,000 at RR Auction on 25 September 2021 against an estimate of $50,000+.
This selection of nine pipes and a menorah pipe holder owned and used by Albert Einstein sold for $125,000 at RR Auction on 25 September 2021 against an estimate of $50,000+.

Sold by: RR Auction
Estimate: Not Available
Official Auction Page
In 2017, one of Albert Einstein’s pipes sold for GBP £52,500 ($67,665) at a Christie’s auction, with the auction description noting that of the two other pipes known, “one is at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, where it is the single most requested item in the Modern Physics collection, and another at the Historical Society of Princeton.”

Hence this cache of nine Einstein pipes for $125,000 would seem like an absolute bargain for an investor. There was only one Albert Einstein, supply is capped, and unlike many other forms of collectibles investment, Einstein’s universally appealing brand values are set in stone and will not diminish with time. There are already dozens of instances where he has smashed expectations at auction.

$125,000 | Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color Photo

This Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color 10" x 8" print sold for $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on 24 September 2021
This Apollo 11 Vintage NASA "Red Number" Color 10" x 8" print sold for $125,000 at Heritage Auctions on 24 September 2021

Sold by: Heritage
Estimate: Not Available
Official Auction Page
As far as we can tell, this legendary image known simply as "Visor" is now the most expensive NASA pic ever sold after it landed a winning bid of $125,000.

The pic comes from the J.L. Pickering Collection Auction at Heritage and was among 300 photographs picked from his personal collection of some 100,000 space images. Pickering is the co-author of a handful of books on various space missions and space history, and his latest book, Picturing the Space Shuttle: The Early Years, is now in bookstores. His website, RetroSpaceImages.com is full of photographs and videos, and definitely worth a look.

$123,154 | "Novum ac magnum theatrum urbium Belgicae" + "Belgicae liberae ac foederatae" by Joan Blaeu (1649)

"Novum ac magnum theatrum urbium Belgicae" plus "Belgicae liberae ac foederatae, two townbooks of the newly independent Netherlands produced by master craftsman Joan Blaeu in 1649 sold for $123,154 (€85,000 plus buyers premium) at Marc van de Wiele Auctions on 2 October 2021
"Novum ac magnum theatrum urbium Belgicae" plus "Belgicae liberae ac foederatae, two townbooks of the newly independent Netherlands produced by master craftsman Joan Blaeu in 1649 sold for $123,154 (€85,000 plus buyers premium) at Marc van de Wiele Auctions on 2 October 2021

Sold by: Marc van de Wiele Auctions
Estimate: €50,000 - €80,000
Official Auction Page
The townbooks were a proud celebration of the newly independent Netherlands, forming one of the most lavishly illustrated works produced in Amsterdam during the 17 century, and of great value in providing an accurate topographical record of the towns and cities of Belgium and the Netherlands. "Of all the Blaeu atlases, the townbooks of the Netherlands are held in the highest esteem... Bound up, by sentiment, with the most dramatic and heroic period of the shaping of the Dutch State it shows the proud and industrious cities... in their full splendor" (Koeman IV, I p. 337-342).

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