Top Lots: Melville’s Whale, Signed Flannery O’Connor Firsts, Rex Stout Titles

A first American edition of Moby-Dick (left) brought $40,000, while a fourth edition (right) sold for $7,168.

Topping our June 19, 2014 auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature was a first American edition of Herman Melville’s seminal Moby-Dick, which brought $40,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $18,000 to $25,000, while a scarce fourth edition copy also exceeded expectations, bringing $7,168 in its first time at auction.

Every one of the 20 Rex Stout titles in the sale found a buyer, and several record prices were set, including Where There’s a Will ($9,375), Too Many Cooks ($7,500) and Over My Dead Body ($6,500).

Signed and inscribed first editions by Flannery O’Connor, which seldom appear at auction, also set records. These were all signed and inscribed to her former professor and family friend, George Haslam, and included her novel Wise Blood, 1952 ($8,750) and her best-known collection of short stories, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, 1955 ($9,375).