27 December 2006

To the Lighthouse

This is the first unequivocal modern first edition I am evaluating and pontificating about. It is a category that means less than it did in the 1980s and 1990s. Now everyone is a modern first edition dealer and the game is no longer in the hands of suave and sophisticated specialists. The books have become too damn valuable just for those dudes. Antiquarian dealers have added modern firsts esp 'highspots' to their wares and locked cabinets are filled with mylar protected jacketed treasures like....

Virginia Woolf. TO THE LIGHTHOUSE. Hogarth Press, London 1927

Key modernist work and one of Virginia Woolf's masterpieces ( 'Dalloway' and 'Room' and esp 'The Waves' have their champions.) 3000 printed but uncommon and valuable in a decent jacket - illustrated by her sister Vanessa Bell. VW was worried about the reviews when it came out. She wrote in her diary "Book out..I am anxious about Time passes...think the whole thing maybe pronounced soft, shallow, insipid, sentimental.' 'Time Passes' was the name of the book's middle section and signifies the stream of consciousness style. She quickly bucked up with the obvious success of the book and treated herself to a car. It was a Singer-- I used to see Hillman Singers around when very young, I guess they were heirs to Virginia's motor. Where is that car now!?

VALUE? One sees copies in decent jackets for nigh on £10K (($18K) and a really decent copy made a heady £15K at Bonham's 2005. Said to have been bought by a dealer. A good looking copy made $9000 on ebay, 12/06, in nice d/w but significantly restored. To be fair this was fully disclosed and an interesting d/w restoration word was used - 'blended' - referring to the expensive paper microsurgery process and the 'touching in' that takes place. Sans jacket it makes a few hundred quid and some bind it up in full leather, talk it up ('triumph of modernism' etc.,) and ask and sometimes get a grand. Buying VW, for Bloomsbury lovers, is an act of reverence. Btw our photo shows a 1920s 848cc Singer Junior, almost certainly the model that she bought. It was introduced at the London Car Show in 1926. It was available in a covered version but I like to think Virginia would have gone for the open top. She used to write standing up at her desk and liked to do things the hard way so a bit of fresh air would not have bothered her.

Current Prices $9000-$18000 / £5000-£10000 Want level 25-50 Highish

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