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 Anyone have first editions of Fleming's Bond books?

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PostSubject: Anyone have first editions of Fleming's Bond books?   Thu Dec 18, 2014 12:48 pm

This article is interesting. First editions are collector's items. Some of you know I collect comics and can appreciate a 'find' in other niches too.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/oct/17/james-bond-first-editions-william-boyd

Extract:

Early imprints of the Bond books increase in value every year. Is this just down to a large readership, or does it say something more fundamental about Ian Fleming's creation?

In the first edition market, the Bond books occupy an interesting and in some respects unparalleled place. In my Catalogue Number 1 (1982), as item 37, I listed an extensive Fleming collection, which consisted of all 14 novels, in nice condition in their original dust wrappers, with 22 further Fleming items. I priced it at £1,385, and remember counselling one of my customers not to buy it at what seemed to me rather a high price. The books, I observed, were only a bit of popular culture, unlikely to last, and very likely to be hyped while the Bond phenomenon was still bubbling away. I remember saying something similar about the early inflation of the prices of the Harry Potter books, which have – like the Bonds – continued to rise steeply. I am not a very good judge of this market.

The Fleming collection – which I had purchased from Iain Sinclair before he became a well-known novelist (he spent a lot of his time then as a book scout) – didn't find a buyer, and I had to break it up, ensuring a considerable Fleming inventory for the next few years.

If someone had bought it, it would have been a bargain. The prices for the Bond novels have escalated remarkably since then. I recently saw a copy of Casino Royale (the first novel) in beautiful condition offered at £50,000, and myself sold an equally pristine copy of Live and Let Die (the second) for £17,000. I wasn't particularly happy dabbling once again in the Bond market, but I was asked to source some of the books by a collector-friend, and that, after all, is what a rare book dealer is supposed to do.

My 1982 offering would now be worth at least £75,000
, and I would hesitate to dissuade any prospective customer from buying Bond books, which increase in value year upon year. The process has recently been reflected in – and perhaps enhanced by – the issue of a magisterial bibliography of Fleming by the bookseller John Gilbert. It's a lavish, outsized, handsomely comprehensive account of the books, which in itself might be thought of as a collector's item. Originally published at £175, it is a companion worthy of its hero.

If you look at the price trajectory of the Bond books in tandem with other first editions over the same period, there is hardly any comparison. My 1982 catalogue had a lot of nice things, which would be worth a lot more today. It included a copy of Journey of the Magi coolly inscribed by TS Eliot to his first wife – "VHE from TSE 1927" (£775, now perhaps £15,000) – as well as the corrected typescript of Virginia Woolf's Freshwater (£4,250 then, perhaps £30,000 now). Both of these items are unique and important, and both need to be described and analysed with care so that their full significance can be understood. They are, in their own modest ways, part of literary history. Whereas my little Fleming collection had nothing special about it: none of the books were signed or inscribed by their author, there were no letters or manuscripts. Just a bunch of books, of the kind that I suspect you could duplicate with an hour's work on abebooks.com and a very fat wallet.

I do not know why prices of the Bond books have escalated so substantially over the past 30 years. Partly it is a market phenomenon: a lot more people read the Bond novels than Eliot or Woolf, and if a set percentage of the readership becomes collectors, there will always be more demand for the Bond books than those by highbrow literary writers. But the same is true of Barbara Cartland, and nobody collects her.

Like Sherlock Holmes, Bond is not merely a hero, but an archetype. Unlike the ultimate reasoning machine, Bond is an embodiment of the man of action, fit for any purpose, the ultimate answer to the manifold faces of evil. That the collecting market should respond to such figures (in children's literature think of Christopher Robin or Bilbo Baggins) is understandable enough. Collectors pursue a wide variety of agendas, but one of them is undoubtedly the (often unconscious) search for a figure with whom to identify, or one who touches some nostalgic chord.

In the meantime, the new Boyd/Bond is very enjoyable, with a full canvas of gruesome murders, hideous villains, sexy lovers and switched identities. I've read all of the Bond follow-ups, with varying degrees of satisfaction, and Solo is the best of them. It even has a new take on the perfect martini. Bold? Certainly. But Boyd has earned my trust.
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