31 January 2007

The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald.1925.

F. Scott Fitzgerald. THE GREAT GATSBY. Scribner's, NY 1925

Current Selling Prices
$120000-$180000 / £55000-£95000

The summum bonum of mod firsts, in its famous jacket fabulously valuable - outranking Joyce, Hem, Faulkner, Beckett and even JK Rowling. A great work that ,as they say, tapped into the Zeitgeist, praised by H.L. Mencken, T.S. Eliot (who mentioned Scott in the same breath as 'The Master' i.e. Henry James.) It still sells 300,000 copies a year. This is a writer who was frequently broke and in Hollywood was shunned (they don't like lushes) and treated like a loser. To my mind a beautiful book with its unforgettable closing lines. There are points on the book but if you have the words 'sick in tired' at lines 9/10 on page 205 you are almost there. There are 5 other points including - at page 60 line 6 the word 'chatter'- should be there, Scott replaced in the second state with the word 'echolalia.' Odd move. At the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society's 1996 conference, co-sponsored by Princeton University a scholar gave a paper on the word 'echolalia' in Gatsby. They are still talking about it in New Jersey.

VALUE? Jacketless copies go for about $3000 in nice condition, possibly a bit more if they are noticeably fresh. It is possible that the seller currently offering a copy at $9000 sans d/w is 'having a laugh.' One hopes so. In auction it has made as much as $175,000 with a jacket. A copy in a restored jacket failed to reach its $60,000 reserve in 2002, often the fate of restored objects. The Neville copy in a frayed second state jacket made $145,000, however it was nicely inscribed. The point on the jacket, and it is one that is rarely invoked, is that the J in Jay Gatsby on the rear panel is lower case and was altered in ink (shades of the first Hobbit jacket.) It is worth quoting this auction catalogue description of it: 'The dust jacket on The Great Gatsby — a depiction of a woman’s face (Daisy’s) brooding over an amusement park version of New York at night — has achieved iconic status. The design by Francis Cugat (the brother, incidently, of bandleader Xavier Cugat) ...Fitzgerald (wrote) to Perkins, ‘For Christs sake don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me. I’ve written it into the book.’ Trivia: I had an aunt who knew Xavier Cugat; did his brother get him a copy? [ W/Q **** ]

Madonna. Sex. 1992.

Madonna. SEX. New York: Warner Books, 1992.

The great bibliomane Thomas Dibdin said that a person should have 3 copies of his favourite books, one for reading, one for collecting and one for lending to friends. If Dibdin had fancied Madonna's silver book 'Sex' he would have kept the collectable one in virgin state, i.e. unopened.The minute someone slits the silver mylar foil the book halves in value. This is basically true of all collectable books, they are not for reading and should ideally look like they are still sitting in Borders. The only problem with Madonna's book is that I suspect it will one day rust or oxidise or possibly self destruct. Its porn-as- fashion mode, with tattooed baldies and torpid bondage is a little vieux chapeau 15 years on and the book has demonstrably peaked. It will always be a curiosity, like the metal book produced by MOMA or Warhol's 'Index Book' with its mouldy balloon. Genuine signed ones are good, and the UK edition by Secker is said to precede the New York edition so has some caché. [Want level 50-80 High]

Current Selling Prices
$250-$400 /£120-£200 ISBN: 0446517321

VALUE? There are alot about. We put one on ebay a couple of years ago and it was kicked off as smut, it seems to be now acceptable again. Some dealers have several copies but still call it scarce. I guess having done the full on hyperbole description ('flawless, spectacular, as new, never opened') it's easy to just keep adding copies. Even a 'factory - sealed' copy can go through on ebay at around a $150 when there are a lot about. It must have the CD - 'in it's original mylar pouch. Celebrities photographed with Madonna - include Naomi Campbell, Isabella Rossellini, Big Daddy Kane & Vanilla Ice. Talking off celebs our very own Kylie Minogue did a sort of reply to Madonna's book in 1999 - and it is holding it's value ($100?). Produced by Damien Hirst's publishers Booth-Clibborn Editions in London. It's pink in an illustrated slip-case and less relentlessly sleazy than 'Sex.' At one point there were hundreds of 'hurt ' copies around, possibly the survivors of a forklift crash, so fine copies are uncommon.

30 January 2007

The Architectural Style of A. Hays Town.


Current Selling Prices
$1500+ / £800+ ISBN 0961578009

Large quarto coffee table art book with 106 colour sketches. Creole Architecture, AHT worked in Baton Rouge. In April 06 there was a fine copy at $2500 which must have sold. I guess if you have a house by the chap you have to have the book and you might also have the cash. There is, however, a perfectly good book on his Louisiana houses by Philip Gould at $30, nice pics but no floor plans.

VALUE? The $2500 copy could have been a lucky chance and it might show up on ebay at $50 but I doubt it. A copy (fine in fine) is for sale at $1800, another copy spotted at $3500-- "a unique opportunity to buy this rare book." Louisiana seller. The same book is relisted by a relister at $5500. The Hindus have a phrase for this 'jiva jivasya jivanam' - one living entity is food for another. [Want level 25-50 Highish]

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 ** ]

28 January 2007

Ascetical Homilies. Saint Isaac the Syrian.

Saint Isaac the Syrian. ASCETICAL HOMILIES OF SAINT ISAAC THE SYRIAN. Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Brookline, MA 1985. ISBN 0913026557

Current Selling Prices
$350-$750 / £200-£400 Want level 25-50 Highish

Sound red 500 page book much in demand and fairly thin on the ground. Much respected 7th century ascetic and holy man from the Qatar region of the Gulf, he spent many years in the desert studying and meditating near Mount Matout, a refuge for anchorites. No fan of ease and idleness which he felt destroyed the soul more effectively than demons, he subsisted on 3 loaves of bread a week and some uncoooked veg. A random homily : 'Dispassion does not mean that a man feels no passions, but that he does not accept any of them.'

VALUE? Asceticism does not come cheap. Issued sans d/w; nice copies seem to command $500 to $850. They may or may not sell at this price, possibly cheaper copies sell aginst these prices. A few eccentrics were holding out for $1000+, one chap at Amazon had 2 copies ($1874 and $1913) This is not uncommon with sought after books for someone to hold 2 or more, the dealer scoops up underpriced copies as they emerge in order to protect his price. A dangerous game, especially when hell has to freeze over before you will sell any of them.

Across America by Motor Cycle. C. K. Shepherd.

C. K. Shepherd. ACROSS AMERICA BY MOTOR CYCLE. Longmans, London, 1922.

Current Selling Prices
$450-$750 / £240-£400 Want level 15 - 25 Quite High

$500 + book and quite scarce - part of a small genre of books about motorbike journeys that seem curiously desirable. Possibly the 2005 flick about Che (Motorcycle Diaries) revived interest. Shepherd was from Birmingham and an RAF officer who rode from San Francisco to New York in 1919. He was apparently trying to throw off the post war malaise and considered "what form of dissipation would be best suited to remove that haunting feeling of unrest, which as a result of three or four years of active service was so common amongst the youth of England". He did 5000 miles in 3 months on a bike he nicknamed 'Lizzie' and had many adventures and a few falls which he writes off with Brit good humour. See also Peggy Iris Thomas 'A Ride in the Sun' another collectable bike journey of a plucky Brit in the Americas, 14000 miles in 1954. She had $60 in her pocket, an Airdale puppy named Matelot and a BSA 125cc Bantam. In US the book is called 'Gasoline Gypsy.' It is pretty much unfindable and even more wanted than Shepherd's book and possibly worth the same.

VALUE? Copies seen as high as £640 but this is the kind of price at which the the book does not sell - the Peter Principle for books. Think half of that for a decent copy. Our photo shows a vintage Harley from 1916, unlikely to be CKS's 'Lizzie.'

27 January 2007

In Aleppo Once.Taqui Altounyan, 1969.

When a formally valuable book (like Taqui Altounyan's father's poems - see below) is exposed as not being as uncommon as once thought and copies come to roost on the web at comparatively modest prices the book is said to be 'net blown.' Said by me, that is. This happens alot, a classic example was the 1984 book about the birth of Silicon Valley 'Fire in the Valley' - once making $200, but the high price brought so many out that $40 is the 2007 price. Tastes change and computer books are not what they were. That being said, something signed by Alan Turing would be an object of wonder...

Taqui Altounyan. IN ALEPPO ONCE. John Murray, London, 1969 (ISBN: 0719519225)

Current Selling Prices
$220-$320 /£100-£150 Want level 15 -30 Quite High

Unusual account of a vanished world by Armenian writer, the daughter of poet and doctor EHR (Ernest Haig Riddell) Altounyan. Friend of the family, 'Uncle' Arthur Ransome used the Altounyan childrens' adventures as inspiration for his "Swallows and Amazons." Taqui was 'Captain John'. Born in England in 1917, the author was the daughter of Dora Collingwood (herself the daughter of Ruskin's biographer and closely related to the philosopher R.G. Collingwood) and Ernest Altounyan, a doctor raised in England whose father was Armenian and mother Irish. On the Armenian side, the author's relations were eminent philanthropists, her grandfather the founder of a famous hospital in Aleppo (Syria.) EHR Altounyan published a poem, 'Ornament of Honour' (Cambridge University Press 1937). It is addressed to his close friend T.E. Lawrence and was written in Aleppo within six months of the news of Lawrence's death. This used to have some value as a Lawrence item but the web has exposed it as being relatively common and what was a $200 book can now be had for $60. The title of Taqui Altounyan's book comes, of course, from Othello and was also used at the title of a short story by Vladimir Nabokov.

Set you down this;
And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduc’d the state,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
And smote him thus.

VALUE? Wanted mainly for its Ransome connection and also as a beautifully written memoir of a world that disappeared in WW2. Its value always seems to stay above £100 nice in jacket.

25 January 2007

Arwrology by Gordon Perrigard

Booksellers tend to be catholic in their tastes and knowledge. One moment it's the PRB, next moment it's record design or contes cruels and after that the USAF in Bataan. Today's book is a fighting manual proclaimed by one seller of the facsimile as "...one of the most highly sought after – and most valuable – fighting manuals in the world." Quite a claim, and with no copies around and none seen a difficult book to price. One can look for prices of other manuals--Joe Dempsey's 1950 book 'Championship Fighting. Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense' can go for £200, WW1 manuals on unarmed combat, or fighting with bayonets or pistols can get to a £150. There are unpleasant cheaply printed books on fighting and killing that can get to $150. This book of Dr. Perrigard probably outranks all of these and certainly has many wants. My price is probably a little cautious, this is not an exact science...

Gordon Perrigard. ARWROLOGY.Renouf Publishing Co.,Montreal (1943)

Current Selling Prices
$300+ / £160+ Want level 25-50 Highish

Bloody scarce hand to hand fighting manual. A combat classic avidly sought by 'martialists' all over the globe. Perrigard was a Canadian MD who combined his medical knowledge with his experience of ju - jitsu to develop Arwrology - apparently devastatingly effective in close fighting and very useful in an argument. The name comes from old Welsh 'arwr' meaning a heroic fighter: the system also includes the use of knives: you don't mess with an Arwrologist.

VALUE? Price unknown, but whatever it was it has been dented by a 2006 reprint coming out of Boulder Colorado at $25. Our pic shows this book. I would guess the original could still command several hundred bucks or more as an iconic object.

24 January 2007

David Stone Martin - Jazz Graphics 1991

I went into a minor rant yesterday about the 'average price' heresy (see Bennion/ Medical Instruments below). The thrust of it is that buyers do not choose to buy a book with the average price , they buy at the lowest price, all things being equal. There are, of course, exceptions. Firstly when (esp on Amazon or Ebay) the lowest price dealer has low feedback and is thus a possible bilker or scuzz ball. Secondly when the lowest price is with someone 1000s of miles of ocean away, with consequent slowness of delivery and high postage. Thirdly when the seller is well known and highly esteemed; you don't want to pay alot extra for this but it is reassuring-- the book will be as described and can be returned without fuss if it isn't. If the book is expensive the dealer may look upon you with favour in some future transaction or even quote you a book or send a catalogue. The book will also arrive well packed and protected against the vagaries of air travel etc.,

Manek Daver. DAVID STONE MARTIN. JAZZ GRAPHICS. Graphic-sha Publishing Co. Ltd, Tokyo, Japan, 1991 ISBN 4766105745

Current Selling Prices
$400-$600 /£190-£320 Want level 25-50 Highish

Manek Daver has brought together around 150 of David Stone Martin's jazz record covers, as well as around 65 of DSM's portraits of individual jazz musicians in this attractive book. The text is in both English and Japanese. Small art book size (12 by 9 inches) Soft cover with a jacket. Martin's work is instantly recognisable if you ever looked through collections of ol LP's. It is also recognisable from 50s and 60s paperback covers. He drew more than 400 album covers and created covers for Time Magazine. His work is in the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian. He illustrated books, posters, billboards and advertisements for film, television and theatre, and created cover art for Asch, Clef, and Jazz at the Philharmonic labels of the 40's and 50's. Nice!

VALUE? In the summer a copy turned up at $300 and sold fairly quickly. A silly billy (possibly a relister) had one at £1200 which appears to now languish at half.com - a site that you never hear people talking about and may, like zshops, only enjoy a sort of half-life. A difficult and desirable book - hard to buy at less than $450.

23 January 2007

Edward Abbey. Jonathan Troy.

Edward Abbey. Jonathan Troy. JONATHAN TROY. Dodd, Mead, NY 1954.

Current Selling Prices
$1250-$2000 /£650-£1100 Want level 50- 75 High

Author's first book. One of those first books that the author was later emabarrassed by and never allowed to be reprinted. Abbey himself called it 'bad Thomas Wolfe.' These books, disowned by their authors, are often valuable because the first edition is usually the only edition - a classic example is Graham Greene's 'Rumour at Nightfall' - very saleable, even sans d/w. 5000 copies were printed but the book seems to have gone to ground; it is said that when a fan asked Abbey where they could get the novel the great man said "I don't know where you can find one, but if you do, burn it."

VALUE? Seldom seen at less than $1000 in jacket and superior copies can make over $2000. Much wanted. The spine is usually sunned; signed copies are not unknown.

22 January 2007

Lawrence Durrell. Justine.1957

Lawrence Durrell. JUSTINE. Faber, 1957.

Current Selling Prices
$600-$1200? /£300-£600? Want level 25-50 Highish

Durrell is not as saleable as he was, say, last century - like Robert Graves, Richard Aldington and even that grand man Norman Douglas these expat Brit writers & lovers of the Med are now financially somewhat in abeyance. But Justine, the first book of his Alexandria Quartet, is always going to be a difficult book to find. A surprising book in 1957, unashamedly lush and pretentious with references to French decadence, hashish, Cavafy etc., Sounds great on tape on a long journey; a little adolescent in its appeal, it has been called 'a superior kind of travel writing.' The yellow jacket often gets soiled or browned, fine copies are thin on the ground. The title alludes to the Marquis de Sade's 1791 novel of the same name; Sade's book, considerably more valuable, also appears on wants list but there are probably ten times as many punters for Durrell's oeuvre.

VALUE? There are very few copies around -- it occasionally shows up in very nice nick at less than 500 quid ($1000) and there is a copy at $4000 on ABE right now which is something of a 'dream on' price but while it sits there will make cheaper, but still overpriced, copies look reasonable.

Elisabeth Bennion. Antique Medical Instruments.

Elisabeth Bennion. ANTIQUE MEDICAL INSTRUMENTS. Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co.,University of Berkeley, 1979.

Current Selling Prices
$200-$400 /£100-£200

ISBN 0856670529

Useful art book with lots of well researched info on makers etc., Long out of print. Essential to dealers in the field. Covers only European and English instruments.We're talking antique blood letting and leeching instruments, lancets etc. The book contains a most detailed directory of surgical instrument makers. It also includes information on spectacles, dental and veterinary instruments, trepans, ear trumpets, extractors, scalpels, and invalid feeding utensils. Illustrations are in both color and black and white; there is an extensive bibliography and a glossary.

VALUE? Turns up on ebay where the actual instruments are also traded. Not scarce but always a little over £100. The CD Rom is available at $50 but the book is preferred. One re- lister wants £320. By the way there is a quite pervasive way of valuing books by the web that is wholly erroneous and you often see people doing it (especially sellers.) They take the highest price and the lowest price and divide by 2. That would put this book at £220, whereas decent copies can be bought for £120. If you see several copies of the same book in the same condition at a spread of prices from, say, £10 to £40 you would buy the one at £10 whether you were Bill Gates or Johnny Rotten. It is always difficult to get this point across to sellers, because it is not good news, but it is totally, utterly and completely irrefutable.
[ Want level 15-25 Quite High]

20 January 2007

L.M. Montgomery. Anne of Green Gables.1908

L. M. ( Lucy Maud) Montgomery. ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. L. C. Page, Boston 1908.

Current Selling Prices
$12000+ / £6000+

Enduring mega classic of girl's juvenile fiction. Lucy M wrote this in Canada at the age of 30 and like our own J K Rowling had the book turned down several times. Several sequels appeared. All I remember is Anne had red hair; the essence of the book is in one of LMG's early note books - "elderly couple apply to orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake a girl is sent them." A recent true first impression that sold in auction had light green ribbed cloth, gilt-lettered on front cover and spine, mounted pictorial label on front cover (square dark surround to profile of young woman) April 1908 stated on copyright page, printed half-title, 9 plates by M.A. and W.A.J. Claus. It can sometimes have 8pp. advertisements at end.

VALUE? Scarce and valuable as the 1908 true first with even later impressions fetching over $1000. The 1908 first has twice made $20,000 + at Sotheby's this century. A fancy leather bound copy of the correct 1908 first was seen at a not unrealistic $9000 (£5000) in London. A decent professionally cleaned and restored first was sold in 2006 for 12000 US dollars in Canada. A lot of punters are content with the Grosset or Ryerson issue. VALUABLE! The kind of book that ends up in a solander box and a safe. Has been found in unlikely places like library sales because it looks unremarkable until closely examined.

Want level 25-50 Highish

17 January 2007

Australian Cattle Dogs. The First Five Years.

There are, of course no rules to book collecting. As Crowley said 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law...' You can, as I wrote yesterday, collect anything you like incunabula, emblem books, Taiwan printings, hoaxes, erotica, exploration, manuscripts, bookplates, books on books, books on JFK, books by the K foundation, books with the word 'foundation' in the title or as one wag did, books on a title theme like 'The Romance of Shopkeeping' or 'The Romance Of Weights And Measures'. He found about 30 titles including 'The Romance of Proctology' (1938). One chap I know collects books of a certain Victorian inky hue of blue and very handsome they look. Another chap who married a woman called Rita wants anything with Rita in the title. One crazy dude collected bus tickets and would shake old books to see if any fell out. He was banned. A young woman came in the shop wanting any book with pigs as characters, (she's got 'Animal Farm.') Today it's dogs...

Donn Harling. AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOGS THE FIRST 5 YEARS. 1980 - 1985. Privately Published ( Harling) Topeka, Kansas, 1986. ISBN 0961701307

Current Selling Prices
$180-$350 / £100-£200

Much wanted dog book. A breed apparently popular in the USA and the first five years refers to their time in the USA. A useful book for lovers of the breed. One canine punter called 'Woofie' writes on Amazon - '...you can cross reference blank spots in your own dog's pedigree.' Dog books are a good and persistent collecting genre and still sell well, the buyers actually read them and make use of them. Dogs they are not!

VALUE? Uncommon but people ask $200 to $300, they may even get it. You can also by mugs, calendars and fridge magnets related to the breed. They look like a friendly and enthusiastic dog and part of a trend towards smaller dogs. [Want Level 30-50 Highish]

15 January 2007

Lester Levenson. Keys to the Ultimate Freedom.

The Self Help thing has been going since the Greeks and Romans. Marcus Aurelius was the Deepak Chopra of his day. Thomas Moore dug up mediaeval manuals on how to live a decent life for his excellent 'Care of the Soul' and the Victorian Samuel Smiles (real name) wrote the book 'Self Help.' Arnold Bennet wrote on time management and what is Machiavelli's "The Prince" but a manual on getting ahead? I once had an English edition of 'The Prince' with a signed presentation from Winston Churchill to Lord Beaverbrook along the lines of 'this is how you do it!' Kind of undersold that one.

Lester Levenson. KEYS TO THE ULTIMATE FREEDOM,Sedona Institute, Arizona, 1993.
ISBN 0915721031

Current Selling Prices
$350-$750 /£180- £370

Paperback, often turns up well used. That uncommon thing - a valuable self help book. Dr. Lester Levenson realised one day that what we all want is happiness and calm. He had given up his wealthy medical practice and gone home to die of cancer at 42 and his breakthrough lead to him living another 42 years. He also wrote 'The Abundance Book: The Lazy Way to Riches.' The same info is apparently available a lot cheaper in the books of Hale Dwoskin '"Happiness Is Free and it is easier than you think". Dwoskin, something of a star in the human potential movement, appears to have taken on the mantle of LL's ideas after the great man's death in 1994 --the Sedona method , info and video at their site. It's all about getting rid of unwanted 'limiting' emotions...

VALUE? Hard to find a copy for less than $350 and some unenlightened ones charge obscene sums ($1500 in Ventura --there must be something in the ozone there.) Finally a quote from LL “If we don’t like what’s happening to us in the world, all we have to do is change our consciousness and the world out there changes for us.” Followers of the Sedona method include John Grey (Men/Mars) Jack Canfield (Chicken soup) and Mariel Hemingway.[Want level 25-50 Highish]

14 January 2007

R. R. Ryan. Echo of a Curse. 1939

R. R. Ryan. Echo of a Curse. ECHO OF A CURSE. Herbert Jenkins,London, 1939.

Current Selling Prices
$1900+ /£1000+ Want level 25-50 Highish

Contes Cruels. Horror, dark and demented. Even more cruel than Charles Birkin. Something of a sleeper, Ryan is little known outside of that sub sect of fantasy collectors who want horror, Contes Cruels and the darkness. There are collectors who boast they have all 7 Jenkins books, but they have usually been at it since the Summer of Love. A critic writes 'without a doubt one of the most deeply disturbing and perverse works to ever appear in the genre.' Reprinted 2002 by Midnight House in 450 copies. Some confusion as to who R.R. Ryan was, the money used to be on a cruel sapphist, one Rachel Ryan. However a runner who comes in the shop suggested it was in fact a a man and he wrote other books for Jenkins under a second name. George Locke who records his nice jacketed copy (colour illustrated with 3/6 on spine) takes a fairly dim view of the book in his indispensable 'Spectrum of Fantasy':
"Weird horror story, an uneasy hybrid of the vampire and the werewolf themes. My notes on the story when I read it include the following remark: badly written, poorly constructed, reads as though dictated onto tape and not revised...'

VALUE? Fantasy and horror titles published by Jenkins are bastards to find, whereas their main fare of bright & breezy books (Wodehouse, D.E. Stevenson etc.,) turn up all the time in jolly jackets. I was called to a house which was the estate of a 1930s CEO at Jenkins and expected to find 'A Gent from Bear Creek" and a clutch of jacketed Ryans at very least. Clue, they are mostly in orange cloth, even the Robert E. Howard. The best book there was 1935 book called 'Truncheons: Their Romance and Reality' + a bunch of A.S. Neill books. A horror website refers to RR Ryan's books fetching 'astronomical prices' when they do show up, and those holding don't tend to sell until they are firmly in the crypt. Possibly worth the price of a decent second hand car. Reprint may have put a ceiling on the price. Our pic shows the cover of the Darkside Press (Midnight House) 2002 reprint, for which many thanks.

13 January 2007

C. Daly King. Arrogant Alibi 1938.

Today's book is a thriller by an American author who also wrote books on pychology. Some of his non fiction is readily available but his early work 'Beyond Behaviorism' (1922) is elusive and probably worth a few bob as a curiosity. In the UK you see his mysteries in the green Penguin series-- eg 'Obelists at Sea' which he wrote in Bermuda.

C. Daly King. ARROGANT ALIBI. Collins Crime Club, London 1938

Elusive title from this odd US mystery writer. It features his 'tec Michael Lord who is in the psychological series Obelists. Collins Crime Club and hard to find even sans jacket. A person names Desirée D. Hammon has published a thriller in 2006 called Arrogant Alibi. A candidate for the Kate Adie prize?

Current Selling Prices
$1300 -2000 / £650 - £1100 Want level 15-30 Quite High

VALUE? RB Russell puts it at £1250 in jacket and a tenth of that without. The market could probably still stand such prices, although one suspects that King is less read than of yore. Are they still churning out golden age collectors? His Queen's Quorum short story collection 'The Curious Mr Tarrant' is worth considerably more and has cult status; however it was reprinted and many are content with those - this title, apart from the Appleton 1939 American first, was never reprinted. I am indebted to the invaluable and well stocked (esp golden age mysteries) facsimiledustjackets.com for the jpeg.

12 January 2007

The Arabian Nights. Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night.

I am trying to limit the number of multiple volume works. Often there are several different desirable editions. However we have done Proust so today are going for a Burton. John Simpson (our fearless white suited warzone reporter) in a recent article on book collecting reckons he hit a shop in USA with shelves of Burton firsts but the owner said "he wouldn't sell them to me for a dollar under their market value" because he thought Burton was Elizabeth Taylor's husband. What?!

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS. Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments. Translated and Annotated by Richard F. Burton. Burton Club (no place noted) (1903) 17 Volumes

Much wanted in any edition although the 17 vol Burton Club edition is possibly the most fancied and appeared in 1000 copies only with the now rare 99 copy issue with a page of RFB's holograph manuscript (often missing) and some hand colouring. It can also appear in a handsome wooden traveling box for the touring roué. This is sometimes referred to as a 'mahogany casket.' The Benares edition and the Kamashastra edition which both precede the Burton Club edition are also much wanted, the latter being a Smithers production. Later sets include an unpleasant Easton edition in 'sumptuous' leather and a decent cloth facsimile in 17 vols lettered in gilt, and silver for the supplements. This edition used to be in almost every US used book shop for around $100. A good read.

Current Selling Prices
$3000+ / £1500+

VALUE? The Burton Club 1903 limited edition (1000) set is seldom less than $2000 and limpid sets rise to several K, the limited with the MS page about $20K and nice Kamashastra sets at well over $1000. Often elaborately rebound. Want level 50-75 High

09 January 2007

Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Lewis Carroll. ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND.Macmillan, London 1865 & 1866

Current Selling Prices
£4000 - £12000 / $7500 - $22000

The most wanted book of all. The true first (suppressed) is now very rare although a few got out and it can potentially show up. (In your dreams.) Carroll disliked the edition published in 1865 so much that he had almost all of them recalled and sent to the United States where the title pages were removed and new American ones inserted. His annoyance was with the typography and general appearance of the book.[Want Level, Highest 200+]

VALUE? In 1980 an inscribed one turned up at a provincial auction in France where it made 220.000 francs about $50,000 at the time, which seems like a bit of a steal and probably couldn't happen anymore with the ubiquity of the net. A copy was on sale in NY around 2001 at a cool million dollars. Nice copies of the 1866 can get as much as $10000 to $20000. A lot less for unhandsome copies. As a much loved book early editions often show up in execrable condition and it is not unknown for several poorish copies to be cobbled together to make one acceptable copy. The defective ones are known as 'hospital copies.' Caveat emptor etc., The 1865 edition that sold for $1.5 million in 1998 was larded with drawings by Tenniel and annotated by Carroll - it was the most expensive children's book ever sold. Many people who want the book are looking for 19th century editions, special illustrated editions (Peake, Dali, Steadman) the LEC edition signed by the original Alice in old age, parodies etc., Shabby reprints (early editions) from the 1880s and 1870s show up on ebay and sometimes make , to my mind, silly money...but it is one of those books that defy reason.

Parodies, sequels, prequels, tributes and curious books on the Alice theme aboud. Here are some titles:

Alice in Acidland
Alice in Bibleland
Alice in Blunderland
Alice in Brown Sugarland
Alice in England
Alice in Genderland
Alice in Holidayland
Alice in Jungleland
Alice in Justiceland
Alice in La-La Land
Alice in Madland
Alice in Motorland
Alice in Municipaland
Alice in Northumberland
Alice in Ochestralia
Alice in Puzzleland
Alice in Radioland
Alice in Rankbustland
Alice in Virusland
Alice in Westerland
Alice in Womanland

The Art of Stoneworking. A Reference Guide.

Peter Russell. THE ART OF STONEWORKING.A REFERENCE GUIDE. Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Current Selling Prices
$350-$750? / £200-£400? ISBN 052141332X

A curiously difficult book to find. There was a copy on ABE at $1600 from a notorious venturesome re-lister which is hard to imagine sold but ain't there any more, but certainly a decent copy would command a pretty penny.Well illustrated, quarto, 320 pages. The author (son of artist Norman), in a communication with us, hoped that CUP would republish it and said he had done the occasional xerox of the book for friends. He was flabbergasted by the dealers price. His more recent 'Compleat Marble Sleuth' covers some of the same territory and can be found for $90 or less. I believe I have a copy. [Want level 25-50]

08 January 2007

The Slang of the Book Trade. Part 2.

This is the second part and deals mainly with auctions. I will do a third part with some so far omitted terms, some fanciful, such as Gopwo, Manfer,The Ventura Wave, Relister, Roastbeef, 'defended', underpinned, tea chests, follow the flag, end user, Corita effect etc.,

B.I. Bought in. When an item fails to meet its reserve it is said to be 'bought in.' Often the result of overvaluing the item due to the demands of an over ambitious or greedy consigner. Not always easy at the time to tell this has happened. One waggish London auctioneer would signal the event by giving the buyer a fictitious name, almost invariably that of an Italian film director -- Antonioni, Fellini, Rossellini etc.,
Dotheboys. Sotheby's Auction House. From the awful school in Dickens Nicholas Nickleby run by Mr Wackford Squeers.
Drop. When one bidder takes an item to a highish price but suddenly and unexpectedly stops bidding he is said to have 'dropped it on' the other bidder. 'I took it to £1800 and dropped it on him at £2000.'
House Sale. An auction that takes place on the premises of a house, often in a marquee on the lawn. Usually quite grand houses and often well publicised with helicopters landing in the fields and car parks full of Rollers and Range Rovers + the odd muddy Volvo. Great books have been found in these sales but one also sees some very silly prices paid by rich types seduced by the classy ambience. Sometimes the books are in large lots and we attempt to buy them. A large collection of Malthus letters (found in a bread bin) were bought for a song at a house sale circa 1990. House Sales sometimes contain items from other properties which have been placed there by wily auctioneers hoping to cash in on house auction mania. This isknown as 'salting.'
The Juice. Auctioneer's commission, now running at a salty 20% at most major rooms.
The Knock. Also known as 'The Ring'. An informal (and illegal) agreement between dealers whereby they do not bid against one another during an auction and afterwards 'knock' the goods out in a second auction. The increase in price, sometimes considerable, is shared out between the dealers .The share is known as a 'dividend' or 'divvy.' A dealer who merely joins this arrangement to receive the dividend and has no real intention of buying is known as a 'divvy chaser.' The 'Ring' was made illegal in UK in 1927. Outlawed by trade organisations and far less widespread in the 21st Century. There is a very good study of it in its legal days by Arthur & Ing Freeman: Anatomy of an Auction: Rare Books at Ruxley Lodge, 1919. The practice is also examined in the excellent novel 'Knock or Ring' by Michael Nelson (1957). Adam Smith in his 'Wealth of Nations' noted that "people of the same trade seldom meet together...(without the talk resulting in) ...a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." In the case of the ring, of course, the conspiracy is to lower prices.*
Pissing Contest. When two people, usually dealers bid one another up to a remarkably high price, sometimes leaving themselves with very little profit. " I dropped out early, I didn't want to get involved in a pissing contest.' Sometime 'Pissing Competition.'
Salt. See House Sale.
Settle. To join in a ring or knock - sometimes known as 'the settlement.'
Shill Bid. A fake bid placed to increase the price of an item in an auction - often placed by the seller himself or an associate. Mainly an ebay word now. Ebay have sophisticted software to detect this banned practice.
Snipe. Another Ebay word. To place a bid at the very last moment, sometimes within the last 10 seconds of an auction. This is an attempt, often successful, to 'win' the auction by not allowing the opposition to come back with a higher bid. A practice so common that software is available to do it for you --powersnipe, bidnapper etc., The word 'win' is considered naff when used at terrestrial auctions but quite suits the victorious feeling of the successful ebay sniper.
Taking bids off the wall. When an auctioneer keeps the bidding going often against just one enthusiastic bidder, eventually dropping the item on the unfortunate person. The bids appear to be coming from behind the bidder but in fact are 'taken off the wall.' Hard to detect but one sign is that sometimes the auctioneer is ahead of you in the bidding and when you stop bidding he falls back by one bid (say from £110 to £100) to knock the item down to you. This is known as 'leading the bidding.' Not unknown in Sussex.
The Rooms. Auction rooms. 'The last copy I saw was in the rooms.'

*The origin of the word presumably comes from the fact of the participants sitting or standing in a sort of circle. However in John Badcock's (Jon Bee) 1823 'Lexicon Balatronicum. Slang, a Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, the Pit (and the) Bon-Ton' we find this entry "The Rig: In auction sales, the dealers agree not to bid against each other, buy low and afterwards re- sell the same, by a mimick auction --called 'Knock - Out.' " This is not a misprint and to add to the confusion the 'ring' in the title of Badcock's book refers to the boxing ring (where you can get knocked out!)

07 January 2007

John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism

Scarce art book. To call this artist the Thomas Kinkade of his day would be a little unfair, Godward could paint beautifully...Antique Collectors' Club, books are usually small quarto hardback art books, some much collected, always excellent productions, this is probably the most valuable. Worth more until this very year was George White's English Lantern Clocks but the 2007 reprint has put the kibosh on that. Art reference is a bit of a minefield...

Vern Swanson. JOHN WILLIAM GODWARD.THE ECLIPSE OF CLASSICISM. Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, 1988. ISBN 1851492704

Current Selling Prices
$800-$1200 /£450-£650

A Catalogue Raisonné (magic words - basically meaning a definitive catalogue of the artist's work) attractively produced book on the artist with over 150 colour illustrations. Godward is a still revered British painter (1861-1922) of classical themes with amusingly kitsch, predictable subject matter and titles which must have seemed dated even then. Not laughably kitsch in the Bouguereau league but up there with high camp painters like Edward Longsden Long.

The Edwardian painter mentioned in Powell's 'Music of Time' the Academician Horace Isbister is possibly based on Godward. Isbister's old friend St. John Clarke was writing an art book about him for Jenkin's firm that never got finished. A ghost. Godward was a 'beauty painter' of the Graeco Roman post Alma Tadema variety-- usually lightly draped women, coloured marble and the Med in the background with titles like 'In the Tepidarium' and 'With Violets of Saffron Hue'. He was in fact Tad's protegé. 'Violets' sold last year for £250,000 and with prices like that no one is laughing anymore - except the consigners. Godward's career went into reverse with the coming of modernism and he killed himself, apparently leaving a note to the effect that the world was not big enough for him and Picasso. Munnings felt the same. The sad end of the last 'High Victorian Dreamer.'

VALUE? A very hard book to find. Catalogue Raisonnees are often needed by the owners of paintings by the artist to sell or authenticate them and with Godward making serious money the book is important. There is one at Half.Com at $1500 and the 2 that were on the web at $950 and $1600 3 months ago appear to have sold. The latter was amost certainly a relister. The one presently at half.com is also that of a relister so it may not exist but merely be the ghost of a cheaper copy that has sold. Smoke and mirrors -- this is why it is unwise to take an artificial and inflated price as the true value of a book.
A valuable art book anyway (unless it gets reprinted and ATG do reprint and revise; they are a lively firm just down the road from where I am sitting.) The NY art critic Grace Glueck visiting the Russell Cotes in Bournemouth does quite a good demolition job on the genre. That being said if you are ever near Bournemouth go there. [Want level 15-30 Quite High]

06 January 2007

Jesse James was One of his Names...


Current Selling Prices
$200-$300 /£110-£160

Revisionist history of the Jesse (not Jessie) James legend. Fabulous conspiracy theory stuff with JJ not dying in a gunfight but going on to make a fortune in cahoots with Emperor Maximilian ( who also didn't die.) I like the idea of Maximilia surviving, he came to such a sad end having left his beautiful seaside castle Miramar at Trieste to please his brother, only to be assassinated 3 years later by Mexican rebels. Or maybe not. Jesse went on to found the Knights of the Golden Circle (linked with the Ku Klux Klan.) Schrader does consistently point out that James himself was not a racist. In fact, according to Schrader, some of James' gang were themselves black, including chief James lieutenant John Trammell, "the black cobra." Lots of stuff on web about all this and even a CD of the book at Knights of the Golden Circle site. The Emperor gave Jesse $5 million after leaving Mexico and lived under cover in USA as one John Maxi...My question is: With that kind of dough why bother robbing trains?*

VALUE? Quite uncommon, turns up with specialist Cowboy / Western Americana dealers at around $100 but always sells. 2 chaps on ABE at present want $250-$300. Cowboys are a rich source of books with alot of the stuff coming out in limited editions and until the net a difficult area to get right price wise. Now everyone's a goddam expert. [Want level 15 - 30 Quite High]

*The answer is that James was working for the Confederate underground, adding to their treasury.

05 January 2007

Aleister Crowley - The Diary of a Drug Fiend.

Today's book has increased in value considerably. I had a nice one (in d/j) on a catalogue in the early 90s at about £400. Now it's knocking on £2K and I have seen it for more. In those days with a few exceptions (Jimmy Page comes to mind) Crowley punters were not great spenders or more accurately not great earners. Now major Crowley items are fought over by chaps with half a dozen credit cards and a line of credit as long as Threadneedle Street...

Aleister Crowley. The Diary of a Drug Fiend. Collins, London, 1922.

Crowley's notorious semi autobiographical novel dealing with heroin and cocaine use and the possibility of conquering addiction to said substances.. One of the characters - King Lamus - is clearly a romantic self-portrait by Crowley, and Lamus's "Abbey of Thelema" at Telepylus an idealised version of his own Abbey at Cefalu. Crowley does not push his magick theories in the novel, apart from his use of the will which is dealt with many times in his occult writings. The last chapter is entitled 'Love Under Will.' In our time the will is the last thing used to treat addiction and as a method would have them perplexed down at Cocaine Anonymous. Interestingly the first 50 pages of the 1922 edition are available at Google Books. The paid ads surrounding the vintage pages are for drug and alcohol rehab centres.

I used to go down to Hastings (where Crowley ended up) to buy books, sometimes from Austin Osman Spare's pal Frank Lechford. One night Frank introduced me to an old buffer who had known Crowley in Hastings and still remembered the fearsomely hot curries that he cooked. Thanks to Keith Richmond of Weiser Antiquarian for the pic; Keith probably knows more about Crowley's bibliographic history than the Beast himself did. A scary thought.

Current Selling Prices
$2500-3500 /£1200-£1800 Want level 15-30 Quite High

VALUE? $500+ for nice copies sans d/w but in the jacket I have seen it at as much as £2000. R B Russell in his increasingly reliable guide values it thus. There are no copies in jacket currently available which might indicate that they sell, possibly discounted from £2K. I have seen the book in its d/w 3 times over 30 years which indicates it is not an impossible book, perhaps people kept the jacket because of its kitsch sensationalism. US ed one year later is uncommon as many copies were destroyed in a flood at the publisher's warehouse. Floods are uncommon, warehouses usually catch fire --esp in dealer's catalogues. Not the rarest of the Great Beast's works but the most sought after. Among the rarest are his earlier erotica White Stains and Snowdrops from a Curate's Garden - both can still shock and both are worth more than this 1922 work. Also damned elusive is his homo-erotic parody of Burton's Scented Garden: The Bagh-i-Muattar. 'Drug Fiend' was a landmark book for Crowley as it bought him to the notice of the tabloids who quickly dubbed him 'The Wickedest Man in the World.' Pete Docherty is a poor substitute.

03 January 2007

The Slang of the Book Trade

Today's epistle is about the slang used by book dealers mainly in Britain, some slightly fanciful, some a bit passé and some raffish. I will deal the slang of auctions separately.

Breaker. -- A book with illustrated plates that a dealer removes to sell as prints. Generally disapproved of - tends to be more acceptable if the book is already defective.
Captain Cook. Rhyming slang for a book. Limited usage.
Dog - an unsaleable book. Very common and found everywhere. Often yesterday's best seller like 'Bridges of Madison County'. Sometimes the word 'wooffer' is used at the smarter end of the trade. The French word is 'un Rossignol.'
Book Scout -- sometimes just scout. The US term for our 'runner.' A dealer with no shop and often no premises who hunts for books ('scouts') often looking for 'sleepers' (q.v.). He used to sell them to bookshops but nowadays is more likely to sell them on ebay. The breed is well described in John Dunning's great bibliomystery 'Booked to Die.'
Kosher - from Yiddish, with books it tends to mean authentic, not a fake or of doubtful provenance. A doubtful signature is often referred to as 'not kosher'. A signature that has been pronounced authentic is said to have been 'koshered.' Also used in the art trade.
God's Copy. An exceptionaly fine example, often of a valuable book. Limited usage.
Hospital Copy. A defective book that is retained to make up a complete copy when other defective copies come along. Typically books like Rackhams missing plates, early Alices, Treasure Island,Hound of the Baskervilles.
House Call. UK term. When a bookseller is called to a house to buy a collection of books. Most house calls are mundane but occasionally and esp in the case of a deceased estate they produce wonderful books. Dealers often swap stories of legendary house calls, boring any 'civilians' who are present. Sometimes known as a 'call out.'
I.C. Introductory Commission. A payment made to someone who introduces a bookseller to a book buy. More common in the antique business. Commonly 10%.
Inky. A book printed in 1500 or before, an incunable or incunabulum. Slightly dated, although incunabula have made somthing of a come back on ebay. We sold 3 'inkies' there in 2005.Lots of punters (q.v.)
I Sell By Numbers bookseller. An ISBN book seller. An internet bookseller who uploads books with ISBN numbers mainly by swiping barcodes all day long with a magic wand obtainable from Readerware. The sad future of our noble trade. Limited usage but should spread. I am indebted to Michael Lieberman of the Book Patrol blog and the excellent Seattle shop Wessel and Lieberman for this one.
Marriage. When a book without a dust jacket is 'supplied' with a jacket from another copy or from a collection of jackets. There has been much debate about this and in general a bookseller should state when this has happened. Sometimes it is pretty obvious. A collection of jackets were auctioned in Oxford in 2004 some making into four figures. One expects that many of those have made good marriages.
Punter. A customer for books, an enthusiastic collector. Used in many professions especially the oldest.
Runner. See book scout. There is also the verb 'to run'. There was a tradition amongst runners of having an eccentric or scruffy appearance sometimes to amuse their grander clients but runners these days are nondescript with a few exceptions.
Sexton Blake. Rhyming slang for fake.
Sherlockiana. Books associated with Doyle's master detective inc parodies, interpretations and continuations. Also Droodiana, Oldiana, Oddballiana and any other -iana you care to invent.
Sleeper. A book whose value (sometimes large) is not obvious, sometimes because it is pseudonymous or anonymous or is something like the first book on a subject or has plates by Blake or has something buried in its content like a vampire etc., A classic example is No Decency Left by one Barbara Rich, in fact known to be by Robert Graves and Laura Riding and with a chapter by T.E. Lawrence. The french word is 'un Chopin.'
Squizz binding. An elaborate and beautifull binding, usually in leather with lots of gilt. Squizz is from the word 'exquisite.'
Tea Bag bookseller. A low key bookseller, often with a noticeably unvaluable stock and very few customers. Spends the time reading and drinking tea (hence the tea bag, he seems to get by 'just on a teabag'). Of a stoic disposition, I have heard the type sometimes referred to as a 'book monk', but I guess a book monk doesn't necessarily have a shop. Very limited usage.

That's it - the second part will deal with the cant, slang and jargon of auctions including knocks, rings, bids off the wall and house sales.

A Question of Upbringing. Anthony Powell.

Another old Etonian, our third on this list. The portrait of Powell is from the Wallace Collection (many thanks) a great and good place to browse in the Harley Street / Baker Street area. In their splendid late 18th century townhouse they put on a Powell exhibition in 2006 complete with Burra paintings, Misha Black d/ws and AP letters, manuscripts and his writing desk. This desk was childish in size indicating that Powell was unexpectedly short -- probably about the same height as Brad Pitt or Mick Jagger. Another trivial connection is his gothic American character Russell Gwinnett featured in the late volumes - a direct descendent of Button Gwinnet - whose signature we illustrated here last week.

Anthony Powell. A QUESTION OF UPBRINGING.Heinemann, London 1951.

Current Prices
$950-$1400 / £500-£750

The first and probably the most valuable book in Powell's 12 volume 'A Dance to the Music of Time'- his masterly 'roman fleuve' in the wake of Proust. Set at an unnamed public school (based on Eton) and featuring Nicholas Jenkins, the narrator and his chums Stringham and Templer. It also introduces the key figure in the series Widmerpool - a classic type. The sort of guy you knew when young and regarded as something of a bore and an embarrassment but who rises in the world, way past you, sometimes to great office or great wealth. An unstoppable, slightly grotesque figure possessed of immense willpower and a teflon coated resilience. Said to have been based on a mixture of men including the Lord Chancellor Sir Reginald Manningham Buller (known at the Bar as 'Bullying Manner.') Widmerpudlian is the adjective. Widmerpool , by the way, is a village near Nottingham.
Powell is our own Proust and is considered by some, including not a few French intellos, to have surpassed him. Powell has written about Proust including a good piece on Proust as soldier. Another influence,discernible in his matchless prose style, is Robert Burton and his 'Anatomy of Melancholy.' The title of a an earlier work 'Afternoon Men' came from him.

VALUE? Hard to find a decent jacketed copy for much less than £700. Slightly fragile jacket. The next two (both with titles taken from the City) 'A Buyer's Market' and 'The Acceptance World' are hard to find in good state for less than £500. Decent sets in jacket can go for over £3K, a set with every one inscribed to Denis Wheatley made £10K in 2002. It should be noted that Wheatley's library was invariably in fab condition. Powell is likely to be on the move with a large and well heeled customer base, esp in America. Sets used to make less than £300 in the 1980s. At that time a dealer tried to establish 'points' on some in the series, based on the weave of cloth of the book. He had examined early presentation copies to determine precedence. No one was the slightest bit interested.

Want level 15-25 Quite High

02 January 2007

The Age of the Marvelous by Joy Kenseth.

A marvelous art catalogue, resolutely unfindable but could turn up with some indifferent art books and catas, library sale special...

Joy Kenseth. THE AGE OF THE MARVELOUS. Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, USA.1991 .ISBN 0944722091 or 0944722105

Current Prices$150-$300? /£70-£160?

Out of print, very hard to find and much wanted. An exhibition catalogue of Renaissance and Baroque Art and the origins of the museum. Joy Kenseth teaches at the Ivy League Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. When an exhibition is dispersed all that remains is the catalogue and if a cult then grows around the departed show the catalogue becomes much sought after. If, like this, it is very hard to find, the price could be quite stroppy.

VALUE? No idea of true value but it might get listed by a sober seller at $100, a greedy one who sees how many want it will price it just beyond the pocket of the whole field which could be a surprising amount. All bets are off if it gets reprinted which is quite possible. The 2 ISBNS for the book are a puzzler, I thought it was a softback but one of them could be for a hardback. Neither bring up a damn thing at addall or bookfinder.

Want level 25-50 Highish

01 January 2007

The Golden Treasury of Caroline and her Friends. Pierre Probst.


Current Prices
$350-$750 / £200-£400 Want level 75-100 Very High

Feisty little French girl and her animal friends, originally published in France and created by Pierre Probst (born 1913 and still writing.) The Caroline books (published in UK by Hamlyn and Collins) are some of the most eagerly sought after children's books, possibly because of the very vivid, colourful illustrations. Still in print in France but well o/p in USA and UK and boomers, who must have everything (and fedexed overnight) would shell out big for this. Book begins:

"Not too many girls are lucky enough to have a lion cub, a bear cub, two kittens and three dogs for their best friends. But then, Caroline is a very special girl...

VALUE? A whole lot of punters for this book. No copies on web which either means they are darn scarce or just sell whenever they appear and nobody has put a greedy enough price to stop it, so let's say $450 for a nice one. An indifferent copy of the UK first (Hamlyn 1963) was recently a buy it now on ebay at $475 and the seller claims it has made $1000 there, but could be deluded or having a laugh.

Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay

Happy new 2007 to this happy coterie of readers. I was going to do Powell's Music of Time today but we did an old Etonian yesterday. I don't think Rick Jay was at Eton. Powell can wait. Jay's book can show up anywhere, although they are uncommon in UK & Europe.

Ricky Jay. CARDS AS WEAPONS. Darien House, NY 1977. ISBN 0446387568

Current Prices
$170-$360 /£90-£180 Want level 50- 80 High

Amusing and useful illustrated book showing how to throw playing cards better - subtitled "A Treatise on the art of throwing, scaling, juggling, boomeranging and manipulating ordinary playing cards with particular emphasis on impressing one's friends and providing a deadly yet inexpensive means of self-defence". Says it all. Jay is something of a media star (MTV Etc.,) and the book is much wanted .It is not especially elusive although it's hard to find a sharp copy as it is a thin large format paperback. Book reveals secrets that some magicians feel should not have been revealed; as a manual it has been used by blokes like Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau, and Stephen Chow in their gambling films.

VALUE? Copies show up a bit creased at around $200 and twice that for fine or signed ones. Signed are not that hard as Jay is pretty approachable and often seen at book fairs etc., being a serious book collector. God bless him.