HG Wells first edition tops Swann Auctions at $26,500

A first edition copy of HG Wells' The First Men in the Moon has seen the highest bids in Swann Auction Galleries' sale of 19th & 20th Century Literature.

HG Wells First Men in the Moon first edition
The frontispiece from Wells' novel, which inspired CS Lewis to write his Space Trilogy

Held on June 20 in New York, the auction offered a range of rare and first edition books from the greatest authors. HG Wells' The First Men in the Moon sold at $26,400.

Wells' novel, a scientific romance, was first published in 1901, with the author describing it as one of his "fantastic stories".

It follows a businessmen and an eccentric scientist as they journey to the Moon and their subsequent discovery of an extraterrestrial civilisation that they call Selenites.

As the author responsible for popularising modern science fiction, HG Wells' work is always popular with collectors at auction. In April, a first edition copy of his War of the Worlds sold for $35,000 at Heritage Auctions.

American writer William Faulkner (1897-1962) was well represented in the sale, with a cloth-backed first edition of his Sound and the Fury bringing $24,000.

Following was a rare first edition of his first novel, Soldier's Play, which sold for $18,450.

Aleister Crowley auction
Aleister Crowley’s Mortadello was published by Barabbas and Company in very limited numbers - even fewer survive today

One of the most intriguing lots of the sale was British occultist Aleister Crowley's 1912 play Mortadello; or, The Angel of Venice, which sold for $4,800.

With the inscription reading "Aleister Crowley/Library Copy" in the author's own hand, this was his personal copy.

It bears a further inscription, "La passion religieuse de Levi Clef des grs Mysteres p123", which is a reference to Eliphas Levi's influential occult work The Key of the Great Mysteries.

See the fantastic selection of rare books and literary collectibles for sale in our online store.

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