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Book Collecting

Book Collecting

Rare and Antique Books have recently acquired four signed Kinglesy Amis books from the Dr Philip Murray Collection. It is a great opportunity to remind ourselves of  the obsession of book collecting, or biblomania. Murray gamely recognises that it “is the only form of collecting other than kleptomania that has a medical name attached to it”. He is clearly qualified to make the statement because as well as being one of Ireland’s leading book collectors, he is also a doctor.One Fat Gentleman Signed Kingsley Amis P Murray

Murray’s  interest in books started at a young age in his home of Tipperary, Ireland. He collected the Dandy and Beano comics. His interests quickly led onto more literary works as he ventured in the many bookshops of his university city of Dublin. His passion for book collecting continued during his time abroad. Murray sought specialist catalogues, literary festivals and many, many second hand bookshops in his travels. Much of his joy was also in the befriending of authors along the way.

auctioneersMurray amassed an impressively rare collection of twentieth century literary fiction and poetry. Over many years he built up an extensive range of books by some of Ireland’s most significant poets and novelists. Also including the best of British, American (North and South) and European authors. Names such as C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Beckett, O’Flaherty, J.B. Keane, McGahern, Kingsley Amis, Arthur Miller and many more litter his book collection. Murray’s quiet determination in sending first edition books with self addressed envelopes to authors enabled him to gather an enviable collection. A case in point is the ‘The Whoseday Book’ which contains the signatures of all but twelve of its over 360 contributors. Authors were inclined to add personal dedications which add to the charm and value of his collection. Seamus Heaney even submitted an original poem for his copy.

Murray has recently sold much of his compilation to relieve his family of disposing of such an enormous and significant collection. Around 2,200 books were handled by Dublin Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers in July 2016. These included Literature prize winners, Seamus Heaney, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Patrick White, attracting world wide interest and high prices.

Dr Philip MurrayDr Murray describes the excitement of his “obsession” in his book, “Adventures of a Book Collector” ( Currach Press, 2011). Many a bibliophile may well relate the the joy of finding a gem of a book. The thrill of the chase is one feeling that many a book collector will recognise, even if the finding is now often in online purchases rather than in dusty corners of a book shop. The comradeship of discussing the merits and pleasures of a special book is a special experience. Murray explains it beautifully. “When I started collecting books, I wasn’t to know that it would turn into a lifetime pursuit and would give me such pleasure in both reading some great books and making many valued friendships”. Holding a book that Murray gathered for his collection allows a moment of reflection on the joys of this crazy obsession, Bibiliomania!

To see more books of Dr Philip Murray’s collection go here

 

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Starting off a book collection.

Starting off a book collection.

A question often asked is “Where do I begin with book collecting?” There is no straightforward answer but firstly you have to love what you collect! Starting off a book collection begins with finding an area of interest and keeping focused – it is very easy to get distracted with tempting book offers and chasing elusive editions! Honing down the topic can simplify the process and reduces the draw to go “off piste”. 

There are many routes to establishing a fine book collection – here are a few paths that collectors often get started with:

“Author” Collector: These collectors focus on building up a wide number of works from a specific author, perhaps only first editions. Over time the joy can be in acquiring better quality versions of the books. Alternatively the collection can extend to reprints, foreign translations, special editions and magazine appearances of the author. The “Author” could also be an illustrator, for example, collecting all the illustrated books by Arthur Rackham.

First Edition Collection Ian Fleming James Bond“List” Collector: Using an established and well-known literary list, like the winners of the Man Brooker Prize,ng. Or perhaps all the James Bond films? This collection is typically the first editions of these works and can include reprints or other important editions of the authors.

“Niche” collection: Choosing an an obscure but interesting topic makes for a special collection. Topics can be wide ranging and assembling these editions will truly reflect the personality and interest of the collector. The advantage of this type of collector is that there is often less competition for the books – how many people will be seeking books on say the subject of African Insects?

“Artistic” collection:  These collectors will focus on books that have an ascetic appeal. They could be illustrated editions, finely bound or have dust jackets of particular artists. Often this type of collection can be a starting point and can extend to building up a wide range of artifacts. For example, collecting illustrations of work of Pauline Baynes (best known for her Narnia series) may extend to her other images in magazine covers, dust jackets, maps and posters. These types of collections will often have the added value of looking attractive so represent art in themselves.Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis: first edition

Of course it is rare to find a pure collector of just one of the above, as more often they’ll be made up of a little of all the types. (That tendency to go off piste is very alluring!) Whatever is collected the mantra of all book collectors is “Condition, condition, condition” and establishing a set of fine editions can take some time, not to mention money! It is better to have smaller set of fine quality books than a larger number of poorer quality books. Researching your topic is advisable using the wealth of information on the web and in books.  Bibliographies of chosen authors can be essential in extending knowledge. Book dealers can be of a real help too – and making use of the established organisations that promote trustworthy and reliable book sellers is invaluable – as is attending reputable book fairs.

So where is best to buy from? The easiest option is to visit your local antiquarian bookshop and spend pleasurable minutes or even hours studying many an old book. Bargains can best be found on websites like Ebay but beware potentially less than scrupulous sellers. They may not be accredited by associations such as the ABA, the PBFA or the IOBA and, whilst this is by no means always the case, subsequently may describe books poorly or even dishonestly. They may place fascimile dustjackets on books without telling the buyer or massively inflate prices with high ‘Buy it now’ price tags to give the impression the book is worth considerably more than the market rate. Ebay have tightened their rules and process more recently with the buyer’s best interests in mind, so if you’re unhappy with a book, you can now request a return and, as long as the description was dishonest, Ebay will force the seller to refund in full.

Bargains can, of course, be picked up at car boot sales but if you are focused on a specific subject, it can appear like looking for a needle in a haystack! Sometimes a bookshop might have a good deal on book held in stock so it is always worth a look. Similarly traditional antique auction houses can now invariably be viewed online, thus opening literally the whole world to an auction which would previously have only operated on a local level. This is a double-edged sword of course as it can push the price up but good prices are often achieved too.

Books ImageThen there’s the internet and online offerings, which have transformed the way we buy rare and antique books like never before. Many traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ bookshops have now added website to their means of selling, so finding that special book you’ve always wanted can be done quickly and easily. It is best to buy from online book dealers who are accredited for the reasons mentioned above and always check their returns policy, so you don’t get caught with something you wished you hadn’t bought. Generally, a quick Google search for a specific book title or author will then display numerous specialist booksellers holding exactly what you are looking for. 

To go back to the original question, if you are asking yourself “where to begin building up a book collection” you probably already have a vague idea of what you might be interested in and just need to go ahead and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collecting Ian Fleming First Edition Books

Collecting Ian Fleming First Edition Books:

Fleming’s Bond books are perhaps the most popular and iconic thriller series ever produced. There remains some attraction in identifying with the character and his lifestyle – how many men don’t secretly desire to be Bond at least in some small way! The James Bond “product” has generated all manner of associated gadgets and memorabilia, yet a Bond first edition book holds genuine authenticity and cudos over other merchandise. It would be hard to believe there are any around the world not proudly displayed in cabinets or on shelves.

With the launch on Monday 26th October of the new James Bond film, Spectre, focus on the collecting Ian Fleming’s first edition Bond books will be re-ignited. They have always remained consistently appealing to collectors of modern fiction but here are some interesting facts for the novice.

  • Ian Fleming only published fourteen James Bond novels so collecting them is a manageable task.  Anyone starting off a collection already has some boundaries set so there is no chance of getting carried away and going off piste!
  • Dr-No-Ian-Fleming-First-Edition-Collection-2Identifying the novels is relatively straightforward and so is an ideal way to start off collecting modern literature. Jonathan Cape published all the UK versions of the novels so recognising the publishing details are relatively clear. They should all say Jonathan Cape on the title page. Also they should state “First Published …” with the correct year on the back of the title page. Any second or later impressions will be clearly stated.
  • James-Bond-first-edition-collection-Ian-Fleming-Live-and-let-dieIdeally a good collection will consist of books with their original dust jackets and some of the fun in collecting them is to seek out such books. Beware of jackets from later editions being placed on original books. As a rule of thumb, knowing the sequence of books in the series and then checking to make sure a later book is not mentioned on the jacket of an earlier book, should help determine whether it is the correct jacket for the book or not. Identifying a first edition dust jacket can also be done by checking that no reviews from newspapers or journalists are included on the dust jacket flaps. Later impressions of the book will naturally have these reviews included. Those that have retained their pricing on the front flap are called ‘not price-clipped’ and will be more valuable. The only other point to note is that “Live and Let Die” had three ‘issues’ of the first edition, first impression. The first and most valuable edition has no reference to the jacket designer at all; the second edition has the reference centered in the white space below the text on the inside front flap of the jacket; for the third edition it is placed just below the text. They are all valuable books but decrease in cost from first to third.
  • James Bond novels can be relatively affordable especially for the later books. It is certainly best to start with the more recent and affordable publications. First editions become more expensive as you start moving toward the earlier books in the series. Of course, as ever, condition is the key but even poor condition copies of the earlier books can fetch a reasonable sum. Fine and pristine copies can be worth several thousand pounds but it is perfectly possible to build up a good collection of reasonable books priced at a few hundred pounds each.
  • James Bond books remain a beautifully designed set of books which look great on You-Only-Live-Twice-Ian-Fleming-1964-First-Editionthe shelf. Everyone has their favourite jacket design. The dust jacket designs by Kenneth Lewis, Pat Marriotand, of course, Richard Chopping, all have special attributes that set them apart from each other. Choppping’s  Trompe L’Oeil style was distinctive and menacing. He could even make a toad with a captured dragonfly seem menacing as he did for “You Only Live Twice.”
  • Collecting James Bond novels is especially fun when a new Bond film comes out! The release of the Casino Royale film in 2006 considerably increased the sales of the book of the same name. What was additionally great for book collectors was that the dust jacket for the book inspired the opening sequence of the film.
  • Casino-Royale-Ian-Fleming-rare-authentificationAdding to the fun of collecting Ian Fleming’s novel is the hunting down of the earlier copies of the Bond novels. These earlier titles were initially published in smaller quantities. The first novel, Casino Royale, had a print run of only 4,700 copies. Many of these went to libraries so were well used and invariably lost their jackets. The later books, such as Octopussy, had a run of 50,000 so great copies of these editions are more easily affordable.

Once started, a first edition collection of Ian Fleming books can become compelling! Finding a finer and better copy of a James Bond book is the new challenge. The subtleties of the condition of the book and dust jacket become more intense and it becomes a little like building up a fine wine collection! If you start on the quest of collecting Ian Fleming books we wish you good luck in your adventure! The thrill of completing the collection is amazing.

James-Bond-first-edition-collection-Ian-FlemingRare and Antique books holds the complete collection of James Bond books. See more Ian Fleming novels here.