RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

27 December 2006

Astra Castra

An old favourite, a style of book that used to be known for no good reason as 'roast beef' - a coinage of bookseller Martin Stone to denote sizable, worthy oldish non fiction on robust subjects like early aviation, roads, towers, pirates, local history etc., This used to be on wants list and proudly displayed at book fairs..sic transit...

Hatton Turnor. ASTRA CASTRA. EXPERIMENTS AND ADVENTURES IN THE ATMOSPHERE. Chapman and Hall, London 1865


EARLY AVIATION /BALLOONING
A desirable book but paradoxically not as much wanted as in days of yore - like the 80s when a book scout like X. Driffield would hit the Portsmouth Road mumbling Astra Castra, Globe by the Way Book and Scatological Rites of All Nations to every bemused bookseller en route. Autre temps, autre bores. A big ballooning book, beautiful to behold in the original publisher's cloth with a gilt Pegasus on front and back. Lists the first 500 aeronauts, is large, heavy and finely illustrated with 40 plates, mostly photozincographs. It is worth less than a signed Lemony Snicket but is a bit more impressive. Could find no image of the book so have put attractive Montgolfier image from the National Air and Space museum (many thanks.)

VALUE? Used to go for £150 20 years ago now goes for nearly double that and a bit more for copies in superior condition. A copy was auctioned in LA Feb 2006 and made a mere $179, one assumes it was rebound or shot. An unpleasant rebound copy with a starting price $799 failed to get a bid on ebay in June 06. Several better copies on ABE at less but many ebayers seem unaware of other book sites. Turns up signed but do not pay a premium for that, signatures tend only to kick-start prices when the dude is famous.

Current Prices $350-$750 / £180 - £375 Want level 10 - 20 Modest
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