29 November 2007

George Orwell. Animal Farm. 1945.

George Orwell. ANIMAL FARM. A FAIRY STORY. Secker and Warburg, London, 1945.

Current Selling Prices
$1500-$5000/ £900-£2500

The first edition of Animal Farm (4,500 copies) was delayed from May to August 1945 and was an immediate success requiring a reprint of 10,000 copies. Nota Bene the second edition is in exactly the same jacket and is quite common. It says 'Second Edition' high up on the flap (it can't be cut off and you can't be fooled by it ) and it is not a candidate for marriage. Possibly worth a couple of hundred bucks if real nice, many charge more but seldom get it. Always a bitter disappointment, because it's often very fresh. An enduring political satire on dictatorship and Communist ideology especially Stalinism. A world famous work, it still has bite and is even known to some teenagers. Prefigured by the likes of Candide (also short) and Swift's 'Tale of a Tub.' Unsatisfactorily filmed so far. Has to be a cartoon and one from, say, Pixar might turbo charge the books already high value.

I remember buying a whole lot of mostly indifferent books from the library of Sonia Orwell in the late 80s. The interesting thing about them is that many were presentations to George Orwell from as far afield as Brazil and Ceylon, some as late as fifteen years after his death. I remember the same phenomenom with a bunch of books from H.G. Wells' library, books were being sent to him as late as the 1960s. Both authors seemed to have enyoyed an odd sort of afterlife--news travelled slowly before the infobahn.

VALUE? Although a few persons want the unpleasant leathery Easton edition and some the US Harcourt edition, it is the Secker London edition that is most desired and has become quite valuable in nice condition (ie in a sharp green and grey d/w.) There are a plethora of grubby firsts around but nice jacketed copies command at least a grand Sterling, up to £3000 for beauties. The book is stiil on the rise having suddenly shot up around the year 2000. An intrepid ebay seller is selling the facsimile jacket for £15 and getting orders. Follow the flag. The US edition from Harcourt however must have been more like 450,000 copies and is worth less than the price of a hamburger dinner unless in exquisite condition. The one in black boards is a little better and some brave souls hold out for $100 +. Visiting Brits used to buy it until they saw one in every shop.

An interesting edition is the first Ukrainian edition of 'Animal Farm' Kolhosp Tuarin - it was published in Munich in 1947. Somebody found a box of them in the late 1990s and they were making £100+. All now seem to have sold. I described my last one thus:
'First edition in Ukrainian. Small 4to. pp 91. Pictorial wrappers--in pinks and reds, a striking image showing a gross, fat pig with a whip, and a horse in the backgound pulling a heavy load uphill.. With a 6-page introduction specially written by Orwell for this edition, and a full page photo of Orwell apparently contemplating a cigarette. In the 'autobiographical' introduction Orwell claims that he had been a Socialist since 1930 but during the Spanish Civil War he had considered considered fighting on the side of the Spanish government.The original manuscript has disappeared, but the introduction was retranslated back into English and included in ' Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters.' Wraps, about fine.'


Eric Blair said...

I have a neat trick to remove the 'second edition' statement on dj. Works a treat everytime!

Anonymous said...

blair = liar

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Some poor sod on eBay has just bought a US first for $750!

Anonymous said...

The second printing jacket is very different than the first because the back panel reads differently. It begins with "An early list of titles for 1945" instead of "Important tiles for 1945". I am so sick of delaers selling 2nd DJ's with 1sts.

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