'Anne of Green Gables' 1st edition sells at auction for US$37,500, a new record

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'Anne of Green Gables' 1st edition sells at auction for US$37,500, a new record

A rare 1908 first edition of Anne of Green Gables, one of Canada's most beloved literary works, sold for $37,500 US at a New York auction Friday, smashing the previous record price of $24,000 for a vintage copy of the classic children's novel.

And an equally rare printing of the 1909 sequel by P.E.I.-born author Lucy Maud Montgomery - Anne of Avonlea - sold shortly after for $15,000 US, making it a banner day for the red-haired queen of Canadiana.

Only eight first-run editions of the original Anne of Green Gables - printed in April 1908 by Boston publishing house L.C. Page - have been auctioned in the last 35 years, Sotheby's said prior to Friday's sale of rare books and manuscripts.

The copy sold Friday, which emerged from the private holdings of an unidentified collector, was almost identical to the previous record-setter auctioned by Sotheby's in 2005.

Described as "one of the most sought-after children's books" for North American bibliophiles, the novel spawned seven sequels, two Hollywood films, various stage adaptations, a hit Canadian TV series and a tourism jackpot for Canada's smallest province.

Last year, an authorized "prequel" to the Anne story by Nova Scotia children's author Budge Wilson was published in celebration of the original's 100th anniversary.

Before the 2005 sale, Sotheby's apologized for what it admitted was an "obnoxious" error after listing the Anne of Green Gables first edition as a beloved "American" children's book.

Montgomery's novel was first published in Boston and it would be 35 years before a Canadian edition appeared. But the author, the character of Anne Shirley and the island setting in which her adventures unfold are all icons of Canadian culture.

The book has been translated into 17 languages and thousands of Japanese tourists travel each year to Green Gables House in Cavendish, P.E.I., a testament to Anne's widespread and enduring appeal.

Previous first editions of Anne of Green Gables have drawn bids of as much as $20,000 at auction, but Friday's sale price sets a significantly higher benchmark for the book.

The cover of the 1908 edition features gold lettering and a striking profile portrait of Anne.

Library and Archives Canada has several 1908 copies of the book. In 1999, Ottawa-area book collector Ronald Cohen donated 300 Montgomery titles to the national library, including an autographed first edition of Anne of Green Gables.

Organizations: Sotheby's, North American, Green Gables House Library and Archives Canada

Geographic location: Green Gables, Canada, US Boston New York Avonlea Hollywood Nova Scotia Cavendish Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Mary Allen
    April 27, 2013 - 15:17

    I have a book in fair condition which is Anne of Avonlea copyright in 1909 and is the first impression. There are no torn pages, but the cover is starting to come off, but with a little glue it can be fixed. Can you tell me what it is worth?

  • Diane K.
    November 12, 2010 - 00:04

    I just saw the Anne of Green Gables in the dustjacket on the Sothebys website. They are being sold this Dec. 10th in New York.That has to be one of the earliest jackets known...over 100 years old. They sold a first copy not in the dustjacket for $37,500 last Dec. It will be intresting to see what a very early copy in a dustjacket sells for this Dec. There can't be many jackets that early left. The Anne of Avonlea they have in dustjacket is rare as well. It says only 2 copies in the dustjacket have been sold in over 30 years. Wish I had the money I would buy them.

    • Rick F.
      November 21, 2010 - 23:00

      That Anne of Green Gables in the rare dustjacket is really a nice copy. The dustjacket is very early, has to be one of the earliest known, almost 102 years old. The Sotheby's estimate is $30,000 USD. It will be intresting to see what it sells for on Dec. 10 at Sotheby's in New York.

    • Laurie
      December 02, 2010 - 16:33

      Sotheby's New York is selling 3 rare Lucy Maude Montgomery books on Dec. 10. The Anne of Green Gables in the very rare dustjacket is valued up to $30,000.00 USD. I wonder if this is the earliest copy in a dustjacket. Anyone know if there are any other copies in a dustjacket this early?

    • George M.
      December 08, 2010 - 09:07

      Wow, will be intresting to see what the Anne of Green Gables in the dustjacket sells for Dec. 10 @ Sothebys' New York. Certainly a very rare book. Montgomery's books just keep going up in price. They estimate it at $30,000.00 USD.

  • Lily Cole
    September 29, 2010 - 12:08

    I love this movie it is the best!!!!!!! I have watchd this movie ever since i was a little girl and if you dont like this movie you are not very smart lol :)

    • Anne
      November 11, 2010 - 15:36

      Sotheby's in New York is auctioning off a rare Anne of Green Gables in the very scarce dustjacket on Dec.10, 2010. I have not seen an early copy in a jacket ever before this. It is a very rare early copy estimate is $20,000-$30,000. They also have a rare 1909 Anne of Avonlea in its original jacket for $10,000-$15,000 and a 1917 Anne's House of Dreams for $3,000-$5,000. I love PEI !!

  • Mark Williams
    September 25, 2010 - 08:00

    I am seeking advice on two questions concerning my 1908 first edition, eleventh impression of Anne of Green Gables. First, would an establishment as prestigious as Sotheby’s be interested in auctioning this item? Second, if the answer is yes; should I consider having the edition restored? I would appreciate your advice and/or candor.

  • John
    June 21, 2010 - 20:12

    And who was the so called expert on Compass a week ago that said that they wouldn't even get asking price.

  • Joe
    June 21, 2010 - 19:35

    The hammer price IS the auction price. The book sold for $30K. The rest is buyers' premium, tax, etc. The story as posted is misleading.