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An employee of Christie's holds an original copy of American writer Edgar Allan Poe's Tamerlane and Other Poems, which was auctioned in New York on Friday for $662,500 US. ((Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters))

An original copy of Edgar Allan Poe's first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems, sold for $662,500 US ($696,750 Cdn) in New York on Friday, smashing the previous record price for American literature.

The previous record is believed to be $250,000 US for a copy of the same book sold nearly two decades ago.

Poe published Tamerlane when he was just 18, in 1827, and only 40 or 50 copies were printed.

Only 12 first editions survive of the 40-page collection of poetry, which does not credit the author by name but is written by "a Bostonian." Poe was born in Boston.

The book is stained and frayed but was still expected to sell for over $500,000 US at Christie’s auction house in New York.

 The Poe work was part of the collection of former TV executive William Self, which also includes rare books by Mark Twain, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

He decided to sell the books after the death of his wife and fellow book lover, Peggy.

With files from the Associated Press