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Uncommon Christmas Titles – and presents

Uncommon Christmas Titles – and presents

As Christmas draws near it is interesting to see how publishers market their festive books. Consider the four “Uncommon Christmas Titles” collection illustrated by Arthur Rackham. These are four soft backed smaller books, The Night Before Christmas (1931), The King Of The Golden River (1932), Goblin Market (1933) and The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1934). Clearly not all these titles are Christmas related. It is interesting to wonder why they make such a good match.First Edition Christmas Titles Illustrated by Arthur Rackham

In the 1930’2 new techniques of printing were emerging effecting the market for Rackham’s typical limited edition books with tipped in illustrations. The financial downturn of the American and British economy was influencing consumer spending and the luxury of Rackham elaborate plate illustrations was becoming a thing of the past. A new kind of Rackham book was needed and Rackham changed publisher to Harrap & Co, London in 1928.

Harrap responded to the change in the consumer market by proposing that a slimmer book printed on thinner paper was produced. The plates would be printed on coated paper bound in at intervals within the text. Harrap did not lose sight of the need for an “upmarket” edition alongside the ordinary edition and continued to produce a number of limited edition books. As Rackham comments to Alwin Scheuer in 14 March 1931, “There is a fashion for publishing only limited editions that my books are in rather a curious position.  The ordinary editions do not sell so large a number as of old, and the limiteds are largely over applied for- whereas, formally, in one or tow cases happily, the limited editions were not immediately sold out.” (Butler Library Columbia University New York).Goblin Market Illus by Arthur Rackham: Limited, signed edition.

Rackham and Harrap agreed a successful arrangement whereby two Rackham books were published annually. One was the smaller book and the other a slightly longer and more elaborate book. The smaller ones were released for the Christmas trade.The first trial of this was in 1931 when The Complete Angler and Clement Moore’s, The Night before Christmas was released. Sales of the limited edition of the latter was particularly brisk. The following year Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson and John Ruskin’s King of the Golden River were released. In 1933 The Arthur Rackham Fairy Book with Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market was the chosen works. Rackham’s pace of work altered for the next year and the Pied Piper Of Hamelin was the only book published in 1934.

Rackham was nearing the end of his career in the 1930’s yet the quality of his illustrations remained intact with all these publications. “The style of work for a series of poems published by Harrap and Sons in the early thirties returned unashamedly to the early style.”  (Gettings, p. 161).

Christmas TitlesThe Pied Piper of Hamelin Illus by Arthur Rackham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over this time Harrap and Rackhams’ publications the four smaller books published were of the same style. Each had soft covers with four dazzling colour plates plus black and white illustrations throughout the text. Clearly the marketing strategy of Harrap was successful and sales of the books were good. The four smaller books make a good fit and it is these publications that form the “Uncommon Christmas Titles” that we recognise today. They would indeed make an ideal Christmas gift for a Rackham collector today.

Goblin Market Illus by Arthur Rackham: Limited, signed edition.

To see more books of Arthur Rackham go to here

 

 

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The Story Behind A First Edition Book – The Time Machine.

Often the story behind a first edition is untold – how a novel ever reaches publication can be a story in itself! The Time Machine has an interesting start in life. The author’s, H. G. Wells, childhood was spent reading extensively yet he was only able to pursue his literary career in young adulthood. HGWells-The autobiography-first-editionHe had been thinking and writing about time travel long before The Time Machine was ever published. His plot about an English scientist, who develops a time travel machine, explores social and scientific topics, from class conflict to evolution. When he was 22 years old he serialised his ideas of time travel in his own college newspaper, “The Science Schools Journal” as “The Chronic Argonauts” in 1888. Two further drafts were postulated from Wells’s writings and memoirs and from external sources. Apparently these texts were lost but six years later, in 1894, a fourth text caught the eye of William Ernest Henley from The National Observer. He published the story in a series of seven editions under the title of “The Time Traveler’s Story”. It was a simple version, undramatic and rather flat. The final conclusion was never published as Henley moved positions to become the editor of The New Review before it was released. In his new position at the New Review Henley asked Wells to adapt and enlarge the story for a five part serial. He renamed this improved draft as “The Time Machine” and published it in 1895 paying H. G. Wells £100 ( a considerable sum in today’s terms!) for the story.

Serial publication was a well-established format for novels to be launched at the time. In addition, the climate for stories of time travel and science was ripe and the stories were well received.  A good background for launching a novel about time travel. Wells was keen for a book publication of the story and approached an American publisher, Henry Holt who printed the novel in May 1895, the same year as the New Review publications. (By the way, if you have the first edition of this book the author is stated as H.S Wells – an error that was amended in the second printing!). Wells was also pursuing the London publisher, Heinemann to publish his story who finally released the first UK copy in May 1895. Heinemann produced 6,000 soft bound and 1,500 hard backed editions of “The Time Machine, An Invention”.

HGWells-The autobiography-first-editionThe Holt and Heinemann editions of the Time Machine were published within three weeks of each other and yet are noticeably different. Wells edited and took pieces from his earlier stories in the National Observer and The New Review serials for each publisher. The Holt edition is shorter having only twelve chapters against Heinemann’s sixteen chapters plus an epilogue. These two editions are commonly referred to as the “Holt text” and “Heinemann text”. Nearly all modern reprints reproduce the Heinemann text.

Books of the time were often in a large format with illustrations so Well’s short, 40,000 word story and half inch thick novella looked small on the shelf making initial sales a little slower than expected.  To improve the size and look of the  book Heinemann and Holt added a catalogue at the end of the book of later publications. Apparently some of the first edition books that were not selling were printed but not bound. When the stock levels were low these first editions were bound with catalogues of books from 1899 included at the end of the novel. This meant that the actual publication date of these books was later than the 1895 date printed on their pages.

The-Time-Machine-H.G.Wells first editionThe Time Machine proved to be a successful story touching upon the emerging scientific and sociological topics of the time. The novella became popular and was published with further amendments in 1924 along with “The Wonderful Visit” and other Stories by H.G. Wells in a 28 set volume titled “The Atlantic Edition of the Works of H. G. Wells”.  The Time Machine has been since published in many formats with several film and comic productions. It remains a cornerstone of science fiction novels and Wells is traditionally known as the “Father of Science Fiction”.

Knowing the historical journey of a first edition of “The Time Machine” makes the possession of such an antique book quite unique.

To view the first Heinemann edition (rare without a catalogue) go to The Time Machine 

 

 

 

 

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Rare books as unusual Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts – how about a book? We all like a good read. Although the Kindle continues to gain popularity, especially as an alternative to holiday suitcases brimming with books, there’s still nothing quite like the tactile indulgence of a real book. To be able to view the cover, take time over admiring its size and pagination, to physically turn the page or perhaps simply to smell the real thing, is somehow so much more satisfying.

But choosing a book as a gift specifically for a book lover is certainly not easy or straight-forward. It’s akin to buying a woman a perfume she’s not tried before. Almost certain to be a disaster because, like a book, it is highly personal and very tricky to second guess.

But an old book, a rare book or a first edition of a favourite author, character or series, could very well prove to be a big hit. Whether it’s to read, to admire on the bookshelf, or simply to reminisce over as a childhood favourite read, a well chosen old or rare book as a gift is certain to bring a smile and genuine happiness to the recipient.

The-Chronicles-of-Narnia-C.S.Lewis-first-editionAt Rare & Antique Books almost all our books are first editions. Most are either famous children’s favourites such as Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, The Jungle Book or sets like Winnie the Pooh and Chronicles of Narnia.

Many are modern first editions from popular authors. These include H.G Wells’  The Time Machine or War of the Worlds, Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, or Ian Fleming’s Bond books.James-Bond-first-edition-collection-Ian-Fleming

Rip-Van-Winkle-Illustrated-By-Arthur-Rackham-First-Edition-1905Our beautifully illustrated books by Arthur Rackham dating from the end of the nineteenth century to the 1930’s are especially unique.

So this year, try a rare book as unusual Christmas gift. It might just prove to be the best present ever!

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What gift do you give the person who has everything?

It seems the later you get on in life, the harder it is to find something special or different as a gift for a loved one or friend. So often when asked, they say “really, don’t bother; I have everything I need”, even if they know it’s not entirely true!

Well, Rare and Antique Books have an interesting and different solution – a rare first edition book that’s of particular interest to the recipient. If it is a gift for him, perhaps he loves James Bond films. Imagine the kudos of showing off a first edition Casino Royale to his friends.James-Bond-first-edition-collection-Ian-Fleming
Or perhaps a childhood favourite was Babar the Elephant. The pleasure of reminiscing over the lovely illustrations in ‘The Story of Babar’ would be enough in itself but treasuring a first edition as a unique gift as well would be all the more special.
The-Story-Of-Babar-with-preface-by-a.a.Milne-Jean-De-Brunhoff-First-edition-Methuen
If it is for her, perhaps a favourite film such as ‘Hundred and One Dalmatians’ as a first edition would be a great gift idea.The-101-Dalmatians-Dodie-Smith-First-Edition (2)The-House-at-Pooh-Corner-When-we-were-very-young-Now-we-are-six-Winnie-the-Pooh-A.A.Milne-1st-edition

Or another childhood favourite read such as ‘Winnie the Pooh’ would tug at the heartstrings.

Yes, a rare and valuable old book is worth thinking about as an option. It would sit nicely on the mantelpiece, be an interesting talking point and potentially would be remembered long beyond most other presents.

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A. A. Milne – A literary success

Pay attention to where you are going because without meaning you might get nowhere.”  said A. A. Milne.

Allen Alexander Milne was to create happiness for many adults and children with his verses and tales of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, yet he gained little pleasure from the success of the books.

The British-born “A.A. Milne,” as he was known to millions of readers, began his career as an essayist for the Punch magazine and moved onto producing light hearted plays and novels in his own right. His initial literary works enjoyed some notoriety and a loyal following. His early works included short stories, “The Sunny Side” (1921),  A Gallery of Children” (1925) and the play “The Dover Road” (1921) which were all well received.

The first appearance of The Pooh character was in the Punch magazine as a poem, “Teddy Bear” published in February 1924 and again in a Christmas Eve story called “The Wrong Sort of Bees”. Milne was encouraged to write more children’s verses and “When We Were Very Young” was published in 1924, quickly followed by “Winnie the Pooh” in 1926. A further book of children’s verses was produced in 1927 in “Now We Are Six”. The charming illustrations were drawn by Ernest Shepard who had links with the Punch magazine and his drawings helped to promote the Winnie The Pooh stories into a rare and roaring success.

Milne was beginning to feel constrained by the restraints that his readers demanded to create more of the Pooh stories. He reluctantly obliged in his next book, “The House at Pooh Corner” in 1928. Milne continued to pursue his other literary persuits during this time producing the stories of “The Secret and Other Stories”(1929) and the plays “The Fourth Wall” (1928) and “The Ivory Door” (1929). Milne enjoyed writing whatever pleased him and appeared to revel in the movement from verse, play and story which was not encouraged by his Winnie The Pooh followers. Milne commented that he has “Said goodbye to all that in 70,000 words” (the length of the four principle children’s books) although his publisher, Methuen, continued to issue whatever Milne produced with approximately twenty five further works of novels, plays, political polemics and essays. These included “The Toad of Toad Hall” (1929), “Michael And Mary”(1930) and “Two People” (1931). Unfortunately these literary works did not come with the public recognition Milne sought and he continued to dislike being cast as a children’s author. “The World of Pooh” won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 but I suspect that it held little joy for A. A. Milne to receive it.

I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh. “There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”  A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh
The-Sunny-Side-First-Edition-A.A.Milne 1921Michael-And-Mary-A.A.Milne-First-Edition-1930Two-People-First-Edition-A.A.Milne 1931A-Gallery-Of-Children-A.A.Milne-First-EditionThe toad of Toad Hall by A.A Milne 1st edition

“It is a terrible thing for an author to have a lot of people running about his book without any invitation from him at all.” – A. A. Milne

 

To view more of his rare and first edition books visit our page A .A .Milne and I hope you enjoy all of his publications!

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Passing on Treasured Books – it’s a mixed feeling!

The Chronicles of Narnia Collection First Edition by C. S. Lewis

With much excitement (and a touch of sadness which I’ll explain later) we recently sold a rare, first edition set of The Chronicles of Narnia books and it started me thinking about the rather wonderful act of handing on antique treasured items of one’s childhood.

Recent high value sales of the Narnia series were significant for their personal attachment to the book – think of the 2012 sale of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, by the owner, Mr Hardie, who was the son of one of C. S. Lewis’s best friends. He knew Lewis simply as “Jack”, a friendly visitor who gave him books on his family visits. It was only years later that he realised how valuable the books were. Luckily for Mr Hardie, Lewis has signed the copy “Nicholas Hardie, with love from Jack Lewis” so added further value with the copy selling for around £12,000. The recent sale of a are full set which fetched £25,000 in June at Southerby’s, must clearly have meant a lot to the buyer! Our recent sale of the Chronicles set had been owned by a family who needed a boost of cash so reluctantly sold off their childhood favourite stories. It was pleasant to know that they were bought as a special gift for the purchaser’s wife who fondly remembered the Narnia stories from her youth.

As Mr Hardie said when he submitted his special Lewis edition for auction, “I’ve kept it safe all these years but I don’t know how much the new generation values antique books. Maybe this book can be passed into the hands of someone who will treat it with respect.”

Another full set of Narnia 1st editions is just about to to be listed, photographed and added to our website – it is always a special moment for me to ponder on the history and hands that rare books have passed through and when, as book dealers, we sell them, I am often just a little sad to see these treasured books go.

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First edition childrens books – a novel trend in birthday presents?

First edition children’s books as a present? Struggling for ideas for a special birthday present for your loved one? For a while Red Letter Days had the answer but is there an emerging trend for first edition rare books to be that unusual gift? Not any old book but predominantly First edition children’s books with an attachment to fond childhood memories.
Recent sales of First edition children’s book: 
Recent purchases from the Rare and Antique Book website indicate this trend. Sales of the full first edition set of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and the set of four Pooh books by A. A. Milne were bought as birthday presents for the respective buyers’ partners who had loved reading them as a child. With book sets listed at £6500 and £1250 respectively, these were clearly either very special birthdays or bought by those with higher disposable income than the average person on the street.
Feeling interested? 
If you are looking for similar special birthday presents other current listings on the site include first editions of the rare Histoire de Babar priced at £500, a 1939 “Movie Edition” of The Wizard of Oz listed at £215, the Lord of the Rings trilogy from the 50’s at £750, through to a two book set of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1867) and Through the Looking Glass (1872) on for £2350.
There seems to be another advantage in first edition books as presents -not only do books like these tug at the heart strings but they offer an even more unusual investment opportunity if, of course, the buyer can bare to part with them!

Check here for more rare first edition children’s book ideas for presents! First edition childrens books

The-House-at-Pooh-Corner-When-we-were-very-young-Now-we-are-six-Winnie-the-Pooh-A.A.Milne-1st-edition