29 January 2007

The Adventures of Romney Pringle.

Clifford Ashdown. (i.e. R. Austin Freeman & J.J. Pitcairn.) THE ADVENTURES OF ROMNEY PRINGLE. Ward Lock, London 1902.

Current Selling Prices
$2000+/ £1200+

Legendary rarity. Queen's Quorum listed short stories of a gentleman thief in the Raffles tradition, although with no Bunny to soothe his brow. Ostensibly a literary agent, charming and handsome, he tended to rip off other crooks and makes enough to retire to Sandwich. Part of a mantra of mystery rarities like The Curious Mr Tarrant and Mysterious Affair at Styles that book runners like Martin Stone / Nicholas Lane used to hope to find for chump change in dull market towns and bear back to London for a few weeks of living high on the hog. Days gone by. It is worth examining books like these fairly closely -- because of their value they have often been mucked about with, lack a plate or have a page in facsimile, have been cannily recased with new endpapers or in some way are not quite the full shilling.

VALUE? Not quite as rare as Ellery Queen used to make out (only six copies known etc.,) but still a very useful 4 figure book in nice shape with 2 copies being currently offered at £1K & £3K, neither outstanding. STOP PRESS. The one at a grand may have sold. RB Russell in his ' First Edition Prices' puts it at £1500. Possibly the vogue for collecting old QQ fiction is a bit vieux jeu but could rebound. The exact quote from Ellery Q is:
'Bibliophiles and book scouts have scoured England and America, seeking in the most likely and unlikely places; yet after 50 years of eagle - eyed and expert excavating, the recorded copies total excatly 6 - no more, no less.'
Hyperbole--there have been 4 copies through the web in the last 18 months. EQ did not have the advantage of the infobahn which has made certain books thought to be very rare into the merely rare. Otto Penzler also dismisses Queen's claim as 'incorrect' - nominating Victor L. Whitechurch's Thrilling Stories of the Railway (1912) as one of a half dozen books rarer than Romney. A census of copies can often be inaccurate, except possibly in the case of 7 figure items like the Bay Psalm Book or First Folios or a Caxton Chaucer. [ W/Q ** ]


Anonymous said...

I have heard of Martin Stone but who exactly was Nicholas Lane, some sort of alias? A public service is what you are doing by the by! Fallon

Bookride said...

Nicholas Lane was the character in Iain Sinclair's bibliomystery 'White Cahpel/ Scarlett Tracings' pretty much based directly on Stone. Driffield is also in there and even Sir Charles Russell...N