RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS
20 February 2007
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis, 1950.
C.S. Lewis. THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Bles, London, 1950.
Current Selling Prices
$8500-$16000 / £4200-£8200 Want level 25-50 Highish
CHILDREN'S BOOK / MODERN FIRST EDITION
The first, the most desirable, the most expensive and the rarest of the 7 Narnias. The Silver Chair is sometimes held to be the most difficult but only by those holding it, as it were. Fellow inkling J R R Tolkien was a little dismissive of the work at the time, disliking its overt religious message and its overly avuncular style. I have heard it said that he advised his old mate 'Jack' (as Lewis was known) not to publish it! It is also said that Lewis got the idea from a little girl (part of a bunch of evacuees who had stayed at his house during the war) who became fascinated by an old wardrobe and wanted to explore inside it. The wardrobe theme turns up in other Children's stories notably Edith Nesbit's 'The Aunt and Abel' and Lynne Reid Banks 'The Indian in the Cupboard.' As George Sayer says in his Lewis bio "From the very beginning, despite all the reviewers’ apprehensions, children loved the Narnia stories. More than any stories that I can think of, they appeal to all sorts of children. It is easy to find children who are left cold by Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows; it is rare to find those who enjoy reading yet are not delighted by the Narnia stories." Right on. Many thanks to the sage of Henley and the hermit of Marlow for some of the above.
VALUE? In the white heat of the dot com days a copy made £13000 in a sale in New York, one imagines it was a spiffing copy but the price has not been repeated. Can turn up in restored jackets at about half what a very nice unclipped jacketed one might make which is probably about £8K. The cloth under the jacket tends to fade so a fine one would have to have lead a very sheltered life. A limpid, fresh and fault free one would be v valuable but still might not repeat the 2001 result, esp with the dollar at 2 to a pound.
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The Sliver Chair is certainly much rarer, there are currently a dozen copies of the 'Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' on Abe, compared to four of the 'Silver Chair', and this tends to be a fairly consistent ratio.
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