A set of 16 printings of Alcoholics Anonymous' "Big Book" are to appear as the most highly valued lot in a San Francisco auction on February 18.
The book, which acts as a guide to recovery for addicts, was first printed in 1939 and early editions are incredibly rare, warranting an estimate of $200,000-300,000 for the lot. Included is the first edition as well as what the auction house describes as the "even more elusive" seventh edition, with all editions complete with the original dust jacket.
The estimate given for the Big Book is significantly higher than that held by a first edition, first printing copy of another revered guide to living, the King James Bible, which is set to sell for $100,000-150,000.
The "Big Book" is actually titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. It was written by the organisation's founders Bill W and Dr Bob, and is the originator of the famous "twelve-step method", which is still practiced by those attempting to recover from addiction today.
In 2004, the fully annotated master copy manuscript of the Big Book sold for $1.5m - more than three times its $500,000 estimate - at Sotheby's to private Californian collector, William A Shenk.
Sotheby's Selby Kiffer commented after the 2004 sale: "We immediately recognised the incredible social and historical significance of the manuscript and we also believed in its commercial value. The spirited bidding today confirmed that many collectors shared our conviction on both points."