RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS
09 May 2007
Casino Royale (1953) Ian Fleming.
A highspot hopefully given a slight boost by the new movie - the book is one of the flashiest of modern firsts. For the moment it is marking time a little in financial terms, but it is always readily saleable if you don't push for the final, ultimate 'end user' price...
Ian Fleming. CASINO ROYALE.Cape, London 1953
MODERN FIRST EDITION / ESPIONAGE
Stunning debut novel by posh English writer harking back to Edwardians such as Raffles and Bulldog Drummond but with Aston Martins, added sadism, Vodka, temptresses and fancy handmade ciggies. In 1967 it was made into a bloody awful comedy caper film -- a kind of spoof with Peter Sellers, David Niven and Woody Allen as Bond and Orson Welles as Le Chiffre also starring Deborah Kerr, William
Holden, Ursula Andress, Daliah Lavi, John Huston and Charles Boyer, Jean Paul Belmondo. Recently a new movie appeared with handsome Daniel Craig well reviewed and noted for giving back Bond a sense of danger, something lacking from the Brosnan efforts. Fleming always insisted that Bond looked like Hoagy Carmichael and must have been slightly bemused by Sean Connery.
Current Prices £10000 - £15000 /$18000 - $28000
VALUE? (12/06) Not scarce (4728 printed) but difficult to find in superior condition and valuable thus. Trouble is that people read the book and it had no significant value for the first 30 years of it's life so it is hardly ever fine. Alan Ross, a pal of Fleming, told me that his copy (signed to him) was borrowed by someone who wanted to read it and he forgot to ask for it back. That copy would now be worth more than a new Jaguar. It is always best to avoid 'flatsigned' copies ( a regrettable term invented by Stephen King on an off day to describe a book that is merely signed by the author 'directly on the page, and not on a bookplate' and now in use all over the less challenging parts of the infobahn ). Fleming, as a rule, added a few words to his inscriptions and forgers cannot usually risk more than just doing the name tout court.
An unsigned copy described as fine made a little over $33000 in a high profile (Falktoft) sale 2002. The first copy mentioned in auction records made £420 in 1982 to Richard Booth, of Hay -on Wye. STOP PRESS. MAY 2007. I now think this must have been a buyer who was around the rooms at that time called Robert Booth, a Nineties collector, but with a roving eye for fancy books. The King of Hay has never, to my knowledge, been seen at a London auction.
The price on 'Casino Royale' is discernibly levelling off despite the very good movie. The 2 copies that turned up in 2006 at terrestrial auctions, both wearing slightly worn jackets, made £3000 (Christies) and £6000 (Sothebys.) Prices such as for the Falktoft one ($33K) would now be reserved for resonant presentations and very, very fresh copies. The highest one on the web at present is with an unkown dealer at £15K said to be fine apart from a biro inscription. On ebay it would probably make $15K, when it comes to modern firsts the punters there tend to be bottom feeders. The big money fights are for incunabula, Bibles and presidential autographs. [ W/Q ** ]