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What’s in the signature?

What’s in the signature?

A question often asked about rare and first edition books. Of course the answer is not as straight forward as it might seem. To put it simply, the interest of a signature in a book depends on who it is and what else is included in the writing.

Of course the “who” goes without saying. It has to be the author or illustrator who is well known to add value to a book.  And factor in whether the person is still alive or was a serial signer or not. For example, a signed Bram Stoker or Rudyard Kipling book is both of value due to the fact both are long deceased and both signed very few of their books.

Signatures of people associated with a book’s film adaptation have interest too, so a first edition Ian Fleming book signed by the Bond actor, whilst not worth as much as one signed by Fleming himself, would still add considerable value to the book. Even other actors who featured in the film add a degree of interest, with the likes of Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore from Goldfinger) leading the list.

In the book world there are so many sorts of signatures. And there seems to be a hierarchy of sorts among it all.

One level of the hierarchy is the signature written with nothing else and this can add interest to a book. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis Signed Kingsley Amis signed books are a good example. This simple signature of an author or illustrator maybe more valuable if it is dated and written directly on the pages of the book. Book plates or tipped in signatures are considered less desirable. Owners sometimes like to write their own name on a book and occasionally this can be of interest to a book collector if the person is on interest. Even a bookplate of a related and interesting character can add value to a book.

Nest step up in the ladder is the inscription signature. This is the signature which has been written especially for a particular person and naturally is especially interesting if that person is well known themselves. Of course a dedication inscription that is written to an unknown person may actually detract from a books value.

Any story behind a signature can add interest and value to a book and is called an association copy. This is where the author or illustrator’s signature is inscribed to someone associated with the writer. Links of association could be family members, other famous authors, politicians or anyone of note. Our ephemera within  Now We Are Six depicting connections between H. G. Wells and A. A. Milne is a fascinating find. Occasionally the person who collects the books may become an association of interest. These can tell a story, delving into a piece of literary history so this will always add value and interest to any bibliophile. Finding a date alongside the writing may pin point the interest to a significant event. Now We Are Six with signed ephemera by A.A. Milne & H.G Wells

A dedication signature is the ultimate level of signatures and can add significant value and attention to a bibliophile. Finding a signature dedicated to the person to whom the book was written for is quite special and rare to locate. Example

The worth of a signature will naturally be dependent slightly on market forces – the more generous an author is in signing their publication the less value the signature might have. Books of famous authors who rarely scribbled their names on their books are sought after items example. An author whose books are highly collectable will obviously attract more attention (usually if signed or not!).

For identification purposes the more that is written the better to confirm the authenticity of the writing and establishing the accuracy of the writer is best done through a specialist service to avoid costly mistakes.

Such a wealth of choices of signed books makes the bibliophile’s search for what’s in the signature of the next book such an interesting and enduring task.

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Collection of Winnie the Pooh Books

Winnie the Pooh, that well known little bear is again making publicity. The film, Goodbye Christopher Robin, is being released this October. What a great opportunity to revisit the fascinating story of the author behind the beloved classic children’s character.Winnie the Pooh, First Edition by A. A. Milne

And a chance to remind a bibliophile of the appeal and value in acquiring a set of the Winnie The Pooh volumes. There is certainly plenty of scope for building up a varied collection of books along this theme.

A. A Milne spent his early literary career writing suspense novels and plays yet he presented the character of the lovable bear to his publishers, Methuen in the mid 1920’s. They agreed to publish his book of poetry, When We Were Very Young, in 1924 and the rest, as we know, is history.

Winnie the Pooh quickly followed and was published in late 1926 with great success. The third book, Now We Are Six, was released in 1927 with a run of 50,000 trade copies. It success was immediate achieving more sales of the previous two books in just two months. The House at Pooh Corner, 1928 was Milne’s final book in the series and one in which he introduced the character of Tigger. With the public’s knowledge that this was the last in the series the publication of 75,000 copies sold out quickly and Tigger became a popular new character. The books with their iconic illustrations by the talented Ernest H. Shepard have remained highly sought after collectors items.A. A. Milne When We Were Very Young

Collectors of these books need to look out for particular markers of their first edition status. The first book of poems, When We Were Very Young, has blue boards with gilt character illustrations. It has no “page ix” marked and is distinctive from the second printing copies which do have that printed on the contents page. A first edition and first printing copy is the clearly the rarest of the four titles and in a fine condition with a dust jacket it can fetch a four figure sum.

Milne’s next book, Winnie the Pooh, features Christopher Robin and Pooh as the central characters in a series of stories in their own right. Copies with immaculate green cloth bindings and E. H. Shepard’s stamped gilt illustrations of Pooh and Christopher Robin are sought after items. First edition copies are distinguished by the yellow pictorial dust jacket and 117th thousand printed on the back flap with 7/6 net pricing on the spine. The book has distinctive illustrations of the map of the “100 Aker Wood” on the front free pages.

Milne wrote Now We Are Six as a collection of 35 verse poems. He dedicates the book to Christopher Robin’s childhood friend, Anne Darlington stating, “now she is seven and because she is so speshal.” The UK edition is bound in maroon cloth with the typical gilt illustrations. Likewise, the pink endpapers feature E. H. Shepard’s illustrations. The first edition dust jacket is very pale and a fine copy is hard to find. Any copy with a provenance is clearly a bonus. Our copy with playful comments between the authors, H. G. Wells and A. A. Milne, is a lovely find.  They comment of the words “now she is seven and because she is so speshal” with H. G. Wells adding “when Alan was six, I was nix”.

The House at Pooh Corner is last of the Milne’s books in the series. Fine 1928 first editions will be notable for bright salmon pinks covers with gilt illustrations of Pooh and Christopher Robin stamped on the front board. Again the end papers are illustrated by E. H. Shepard. Any accompanying dust jackets will have the charming illustrations of the characters on the front covers and spine. This edition is prone to fading so a bright copy can be hard to track down.

For a collector a wish list would include deluxe versions of all the books. These deluxe editions came out in the same year as the trade editions except for When We Were Very Young which was released at the time of the seventh edition. Of course signed copies of the quartet with dust jackets in fine condition would complete the wish list. A bibliophile can seek a library of UK editions published by Methuen, London or U.S versions published by Dutton & Co, New York.

All the first editions were followed by a limited first edition run printed on handmade paper, and often known as “Large Paper” copies. Small numbers were released making them scarce and valuable items. Only 100 copies of When We Were Very Young were ever published. 350 copies of Winnie the Pooh signed by Milne and Shepard were released by Methuen in 1926. These copies are distinctive because of their two-tone blue boards. The U.S. limited edition of this book was also published in 1926 with blue and pink boards. Only 200 numbered copies and 26 lettered copies are available. The third book had only 200 “Large Paper” copies released with salmon paper boards, a beige buckram spine and a printed paper label on the front board. Finally the last in the series, 350 signed copies of The House at Pooh Corner was released with cream paper-covered boards, a blue buckram spine and a printed paper label on the front cover. All of these editions are highly sought after books and make a very desirable set.

Of course, once you have sought out a fine set of the Pooh books you might want to move onto completing the collection of all of Milne’s other fine works  – but that is another story…

Here are more A .A. Milne first editions

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How The Book Got It’s Jacket

“How the book got it’s jacket” sounds like a good title from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories yet it is an interesting question, when did books acquire their dust wrappers?

Hans Andersen Fairy Tales and Legends illus by Rex Whistler

Before the 1820’s the text of a book was often bound in a commissioned binding of the owners choice. If a cover was needed to protect a book it was a plain paper wrapper, known as a “bastard title” that was quickly discarded once the book was purchased. An early forerunner version of a book protector was a slip case or sheath which were used for the covering of ornate gift publications or special books. From 1820 these covers progressed to a more paper like version and occasionally included the name of the book title on the cover. The golden age of illustration ensured that ornate and beautiful books were designed which required no decorative covers so any dust jackets for these books were frequently removed to enable the book to be displayed. As any dust jacket collector of 19th and 20th century dust jackets knows a dust jacket from this period is a rare item indeed.

Over time techniques of printing and marketing advanced allowing publishers to make book covers more colourful and appealing – although at the time continued scrapping of  lovely jackets as “wrapping paper” continued. Many books were issued with a plain glassine dust jacket which was instantly dismissed on opening but are now sought after items.

A Christmas Carol dust jacket Arthur Rackham

By the 1920’s dust jackets were becoming familiar. The use of the flap on a jacket became refined providing protection of the book and allowing the owner to read the book too. An added bonus for the publisher was that there was space for promotional information about the author and the book. As the ornately designed book waned the dust jacket became the focus of attraction. The artistic and commercial developments in the art world encouraged more designers to move into corporate employment. The golden Age illustrators even moved into the area of dust jacket design as in the 1925 edition of A Christmas Carol with Arthur Rackham designed dust wrapper. Book designs became objects of art themselves.

World War II interrupted the development of the jackets for a while as shortages of paper restricted publication. Yet since then the dust jacket has gained importance in the field of book collecting. As every book collector will know, a good quality first editionjacket can add considerable value to any book. The value and interest can very often now be in the illustration and design of the dust jacket. Unusual information about an author or the book on the dust jacket can now make it a rare and sought after object.

The Ring by Richard Chopping

Moonraker by Ian Fleming 1st Edition

Author designed jackets such as Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, 1930, or Moonraker by Ian Fleming,  are unusual items. Illustrators who then write a book and illustrate their dust jackets are interesting too as in The Ring by Richard Chopping (illustrator to many of Ian Fleming, James Bond novels).

It can probably be assumed that if How the book got it’s jacket was indeed a Kipling publication it would no doubt have had no jacket on – or maybe it might be covered in the popular glassine covers of the time – and would indeed now be a collectors item!

 

 

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A Clockwork Orange dust jacket

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Childers- A Rare Thriller for Collectors

Childers – A Rare Thriller for Collectors

Collectors of spy thrillers might struggle to build up a collection if they start with one of the classics, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers. It was the last and only spy novel he wrote! However, not to have his book in your collection would be to miss a trick. It is credited with being the forerunner of adventure novels that are based on facts yet remain true thrillers.

Published in 1903, the book predicted the threat of war with Germany and called for British preparedness. The thriller was set within a plot of a yachting and duck shooting trip for two young men which turns into an adventurous investigation into a German plot to invade Great Britain. It is credited as a a precursor of factual spy novels such as John Buchan, Ian Fleming and Ken Follet.

Erskine Childers (25 June 1870 – 24 November 1922)Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands

He certainly knew the military facts of the time. His first book, In the Ranks of the C. I. V. describes his accounts in the Boer War whilst he was serving with the Honorable Artillery Company in Southern Africa. His long descriptive letters were sent home to his sisters. The public’s interest in the war was growing and the letters were published in book format to some success in 1902. Childers then went on to collaborate with his colleague, Basil Williams, on a more formal book, The HAC in South Africa, which described the history of the regiment’s part in the campaign.

However Childers must have known there was a novel in him working on a script for The Riddle of the Sands since 1901. He had been a sailing enthusiast for many years owning several vessels since 1893. He sailed extensively across the channel and even to the Baltic, Nordenhay and the Frisian Islands with his brother. These wide sailing experiences along the German coast plus his wartime forays provided essential  factual material for his adventure novel.

The Riddle of the SandsThe Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The novel was published with wide acclaim and it has never gone out of print. The significance of the book is even more intriguing considering the context of the life and time of the author. The novel depicts patriotic characters who perform courageous struggles for king and country. Yet Childer’s mother was Irish and he had always been interested in the cause of Irish Home Rule. He took this up seriously after WW1. Although Riddle was an instant bestseller, Childers never wrote another novel. Instead he concentrated on military strategy manuals before entering politics and eventually becoming a staunch Irish nationalist smuggling guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht. He was executed by a firing squad in 1922, by order of the Irish Free State.

Childers describes the novel as  “… a story with a purpose” written from “a patriot’s natural sense of duty”. It is certainly a book of significance. In 2003 many centenary editions were produced: the Observer included it on its list of “100 Greatest Novels of All Time” and The Telegraph noted it as the third best novel of all time. It remains a hugely influential book in the spy genre – and certainly one to add to any collection of first edition spy books!

To view our first edition of the book go here

For more first edition spy books go to Ian Fleming or Alistair Maclean

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rudyard Kipling’s Enduring, Just So Stories

Kipling’s Enduring Just So Stories

Rudyard Kipling has long been recognised as onJust So Stories by Rudyard Kiplinge of the most authentic writers during the British Empire of the early 20th century. Some of his works are clearly of their period yet the Just So Stories have endured the passage of time. They are as appealing to children today as they were when they were written in 1902.

The stories of how animals came to be as they are remain fanciful and intriguing. Each tale relates how the animal is modified from it’s original form by the acts of mankind, or some other magical act. For example, The Camel refuses to work and is given a hump as a punishment, allowing him to work for longer with less food breaks. The Whale swallowed a sailor, who then tied a raft inside the whale’s throat to impede further ingestion of men. The end result was a smaller throat for the Whale.

Kipling first attempts at this style of writing is evident in The Second Jungle Book of 1895 where he fantasizes how the tiger got his stripes  in the story of “How Fear Came“. He no doubt developed the tales when he was telling bedtime stories to his daughter, Josephine or “Effie”. Kipling commented, ...in the evening there were stories meant to put Effie to sleep, and you were not allowed to alter those by one single little word. They had to be told just so; or Effie would wake up and put back the missing sentence. So at last they came to be like charms, all three of them,—the whale tale, the camel tale, and the rhinoceros tale. Tragically his daughter died of fever in 1899. Three of the stories were published in a children’s magazine. A few years later the stories were published in book form in 1902.Just-So-Stories-By-Rudyard-Kipling-First-Edition

Kipling uses an amusing and grand style of language with playful invention of words. He includes a delightful poem after each story. The reader is addressed as Best Beloved engaging a feeling of intimacy with the audience – a technique which clearly worked as the book has appealed to children since it’s publication in 1902.

The book is illustrated with his own images and includes two woodcuts with each story. The images are remarkably fresh today. His skill may well have derived from inheriting some artistic talent from his father who was an artist and Principal at the then Mayo School of Arts, in Lahore, British India.Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Many of the stories have been made into films and musicals. For example, the Just So Stories were adapted as a 1984 musical, called Just So at the Watermill theatre in England. Also a French-British animated co-production of Just So Stories was produced in 2008. It is testimony to Kipling’s talent of writing and illustration that a rare first edition book is still in demand today and remains a collectable item. As Kipling said, Hear and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and became and was: O my Best Beloved, when the tame animals were wild, and children are still listening.

To see our collection of First edition Kipling books, click here

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William Golding books inspiring light.

William Golding books inspiring light.

“At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing.” writes William Golding in his novel of The Spire. A book which deals with the construction of the 404-foot high spire and is loosely based on Salisbury Cathedral. Indeed visitors to the tallest tower in Britain have carefully trod in semi- darkness. That is until a volunteer guide, Robert Stiby,  paid with his own money to have new lights installed inside the ancient scaffolding of the tower. Visitors are now able to marvel at the medieval structures. What has this story to do with book collecting you might wonder? As a bibliophile it is a reminder of the endurance and interest of classic authors.

William Golding (19 September 1911 – 19 June 1993)

Golding remains a recognised novelist, playwright and poet being ranked third on The Times list of “The Greatest Writer since 1945”. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983 for his most famous work, The Lord of the FliesLordOfTheFlies. Golding wrote many fine novels yet it is this book which he is most remembered for.

Fine copies of the classic, The Lord of The Flies, remains attractive to collectors of modern first editions. Indeed it could be argued that “A collection of modern fiction would never be complete without it” (Connolly, 136).  As always the main factors affecting the appeal of a first edition book is the condition and the dust jacket.US Lord of the Flies

The first UK edition of The Lord of The Flies published by Faber & Faber in 1954. It features the iconic jungle artwork on the dust wrapper. The children trapped on the island blend into the wild, jungle environment around them.

The US edition was published a year later in 1955. It was not popular and sold around 2,383 copies before quickly going out of print. This makes it a rare find. The dust jacket of this edition has a more dense foliage and darker colouring than the British publication.

When writing The Lord of the Flies  Golding sought to “…illuminate the human condition in the world of today”. Almost as an echo to the past Canon Edward Probert, chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral commented on the new spire lighting. He states that, “…what was once clothed in darkness is now illuminated…”

To see more modern first editions and copies of William Golding books go here.

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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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Remembering the First World War

Remembering the First World War

The memorial for The Battle of the Somme have been a remarkable and sobering reminder of the fall out from war. The battle took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the River Somme in France. It was one of the largest of World War I. MIMG_1857ore than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The UK has seen many events to mark this tragically important historian event. A local commemoration to mark the date was The Shrouds of the Somme.  The artist, Rob Heard created 19,240 shrouds to represent the 19,240 soldiers who died during the first day of the battle. They are arranged in rows on the ground as a way to physicalise the number of dead and to illustrate the enormity of the rare horror.

The 19240 Shrouds of the Somme project describes the process. “Each figure is associated with a name so that each soldier is individually acknowledged and remembered. Rob works his way down the  list, crossing off one name each time a soldier is created as he reflects on their individual experience. He creates the figures unaided, cutting and hand-stitching their calico shrouds, covering and binding them in a ritual of creation, remembrance and personal introspection. As each soldier is wrapped they take on their own form, twisting  and bending into their own unique shape – not only representing the dead – but death itself. The  sight of the figures both individually and collectively presents a poignant and provocative experience for the viewer, providing a moment for reflection within themselves about the physical reality of the war, in approximately 1:6 scale.” It is a poignant and emotional  piece of work.

The Wipers Times 1918The BBC also repeated the film, The Wipers Times, which was first broadcast in 2013. It tells the story of Captain Fred Roberts discovery of a printing press in the ruins of Ypres, Belgium in 1916. With the help of ex-printer Sergeant Harris and with his friend Jack Pearson as his assistant, he sets up the satirical, Wipers Times. The name “Wipers” being the soldiers’ slang pronunciation of the town Ypres. Full of gallows humor the paper was poignant, subversive and very funny. Enemy fire nor authority and gas attacks halted the production of the magazine. It proved to be a huge success with the troops on the Western Front. It was, above all a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming adversity. In his spare time Roberts also managed to win the Military Cross for gallantry.

For more information about The Shrouds of the Somme go here

To see a copy of The Wipers Times go here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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C. S. Lewis- A Remarkable Life

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) A Remarkable Life

The William Nicholson’s play “Shadowlands” is currently touring the UK portraying the remarkable romance between C.S. Lewis and an American called Joy Davidman. It provides opportunity to be learn more about the personal life of the bachelor academic and author and to be reminded of the works of C.S. Lewis. His books have been translated into over 30 languages and sold over million copies. The interest in him and his books does not seem to wain.C s Lewis

Born in Ireland, as a youngster Lewis had an interest in anthropomorphic animals, mythology and Norse legends. These early interests developed into studies of theology, poetry, and academic to name a few of his talents. He went onto hold academic positions in Oxford and Cambridge University. He is probably best know for his epic series, the Chronicles of Narnia, of which The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) is the most popular.

The Narnia books are some of the most sought after books by collectors. The works are all more valuable in their original state rather than rebound, particularly if the dust-jackets are well preserved. First editions of the Chronicles are often kept as a complete collection although individual volumes can achieve hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds, especially if they are signed. For example, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, first edition (1950) signed by the author, sold for £17,000 in October 2010 at the Bloomsbury Auctions. Or a price of £4,200 was achieved for The Last Battle, The Bodley Head (1956), first edition with dust-jacket, signed by the author at Sotherby’s in July 2007.The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis First Edition

Lewis’s other notable works of Mere Christianity and The Ransom Trilogy are also popular and rare to find in good condition with their dust jackets. The Heritage Auctions achieved a sale of $5,676.25 in April 2007 for The Ransom Trilogy, first editions (1938, 1943, 1945), in a dust-jacket.

C. S Lewis completed works remain valuable and collectable items. Yet it is charming to also see that the personal effects of this remarkable man are also valued. A collection of unpublished correspondence between C. S. Lewis and his wife Joy, sold for £4,025 in April 1966. Lewis achieved exceptional success in his literary career and Shadowlands shows that he achieved much in his personal life too.

To see more works of C. S. Lewis go here.