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Signed 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' book sells for $9,000

October 12, 2011 |  3:38 pm

Cuckoosnest A signed copy of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" by Ken Kesey sold for $9,000 in September. It was one of the three most expensive books sold through the site Abebooks, which functions as a portal for hundreds of used booksellers.

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was originally published in 1962; it was author Ken Kesey's first book. Kesey would later become a leading countercultural figure of the '60s, whose adventures with the bohemians who called themselves the Merry Pranksters were memorialized in Tom Wolfe's 1968 book "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test." Kesey's first book became even more famous after the 1975 film adaptation, starring Jack Nicholson, was released; it won five Academy Awards, including best picture. Plenty of used copies of the book can be found for as low as $1, but copies signed by Kesey, who died in 2001, are much more valuable.

The 1962 first edition of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was not the most expensive book sold through Abebooks last month -- it was the third. First was "Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae," a multi-volume pictorial encyclopedia of classical mythology developed by scholars from 40 nations, which sold for $14,067. An 1871 first edition of "Ueber die chemische Zusammensetzung der Eiterzelle," the account by Swiss scientist Johann Friedrich Miescher of his discovery of what would later become known as DNA, went for $9,500.

Some of Abebooks' biggest book sales in 2010 were a collectible copy of Ian Fleming's James Bond thriller "Casino Royale" ($19,529) and a 1979 art edition of Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick; or The Whale," illustrated with wood engravings by Barry Moser ($28,900).


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-- Carolyn Kellogg