RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

28 June 2010

George's Price

Below is a sample of George Jeffrey's handwriting. He has priced a 5 vol set of Arthur Mee's I SEE ALL( 'The World's First Picture Encyclopedia') once a desirable set which had lost favour even before the web. His usual price was £1 with the long flourish afterwards. £15 was serious money down Farringdon way in the early 70s. I once had the whimsical notion of compiling a monograph on dealer's pricing hands so that you could identify where a book had been bought, but it seemed an endless task with generations of pricers and, over time, 1000s of shops. There are probably a 100 different styles coming out of Hay on Wye alone. Iain Sinclair's neat little signed price (i/s) will one day add to the price of the books that he sold at Camden Passage. Did Orwell price books when he was as a part- time assistant in "Booklover's Corner" in Hampstead? Presumably Nancy Mitford priced books in her time at Heywood Hill and over in Berserkeley Jonathan Lethem must have pencilled in a few prices in his days at Moe's. Joseph Connolly priced books for decades, so far adding no discernible value; Graham Greene was involved with a bookshop or two - but may never have wielded a pencil and rubber.

Occasionally you get a collection where the buyer has left the price in and a neat note as to where, when and in which shop the book was bought. Who could not recognise a book priced by Mr Peake at the Scientific Anglian in Norwich, or the looped 'ff' of George Locke from Ferret Fantasy?

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