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First Edition

Book collectors seek out first editions as they represent the original form in which a book was originally published.

Signed and inscribed copies are even more desirable, and the ‘dedication copy’ – the copy which is inscribed to the person to whom the author dedicated the book – is more sought after still.


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The tale of how a man was turned into a dormouse

18 December 2006

JOHN Taylor was the Sawrey joiner and wheelwright, whose wife and stout, elderly daughter, Agnes Anne, kept the village shop immortalised by Beatrix Potter in Ginger and Pickles. But the first Taylor to appear in one of her books was his son, young John, who was the model for the terrier carpenter John Joiner in The Roly Poly Pudding.

The Critique of Pure Reason

06 May 2005

IN contemporary brown calf and buff coloured boards, a good, unsophisticated copy of the 1781, Riga first edition of Immanuel Kant’s Critik der reinen Vernunft was sold for $8500 (£4505) in a March 28 sale held by Baltimore Book Auctions.

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Latin verses by and for the scholarly bibliophile ...

28 April 2005

LAST week’s ATG included a short piece on a 1566 poem by Patrick Adamson, giving thanks for the birth of a son to Mary Queen of Scots, that made £3100 in a Dominic Winter sale of April 6.

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Concerning Homer, Lawrence, a clumsy camel and broken pens

24 March 2005

ILLUSTRATED top right is William Hole’s engraved title page for The Iliads from a copy of George Chapman’s first English translation of The Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets and The Odysses.

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Biggles at Bloomsbury

08 March 2005

by Ian McKayLAST summer, when a large Biggles collection was put up for sale in Swindon, results were a little disappointing – at least for some of those titles offered individually, where some reserves proved too strong for collectors and trade alike – and around half of the 100 lots were bought in – but W.E. Johns’ famous creation certainly does not lack admirers and in a Bloomsbury Auctions sale of February, a much smaller group of Biggles books, mostly from one source, brought good prices.

Macclesfield Psalter saved with £1.7m

31 January 2005

The £1.7m price tag needed to keep the Macclesfield Psalter in the UK has been found.

All Quiet on the Western Front, but still room for improvement

18 January 2005

ERICH Maria Remarque’s corrected galley proofs for the 1929, first bookform edition of Im Westen nichts Neues [All Quiet on the Western Front] brought a collector’s bid of £26,000 at Sotheby’s on November 30.

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Proclaiming the moment at which the Irish state was born...

18 January 2005

A COPY of the most important document in the history of the Irish nation, the Proclamation of Independence printed at Liberty Hall, on Easter Sunday, 1916, realised £140,000 at Sotheby’s on December 16.

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El ingenioso Don Quixote

11 January 2005

WHEN the first part of El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha was published in Madrid in 1605, it proved an immediate success, but as the original publisher, Francisco de Robles, had failed to register copyright outside his native Castile, others were quick to jump on the Cervantes bandwagon.

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An American piscatorial classic and a brief tribute to the English nymph king...

04 January 2005

THE wrappers are torn and creased, the spine has been repaired with glue and several plates and text leaves are loose, but the book seen right is an 1858 first edition of perhaps the scarcest of all American fishing books, Fishing with Hook and Line... by ‘Frank Forester’, the pseudonym used by that prolific chronicler of hunting, shooting and fishing, Henry William Herbert.

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Potter magic but not from Harry this time

24 November 2004

WHEN it comes to Beatrix Potter, they don’t come rarer than this previously unrecorded first trade edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Virgil translated

29 September 2004

FIRST edition copies of John Martyn’s translations of Virgil’s Georgicks (1741) and Bucolicks (1749), both illustrated with coloured plates and maps and bound in contemporary calf, made £500 in a September 17 sale held by John Bellman of Billingshurst.

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Mary Norton’s Borrowers ... Afield, Afloat, Aloft and Avenged

16 September 2004

ILLUSTRATED right is a collection of eight Mary Norton first editions in dust wrappers, including copies of her first two children’s books, The Magic Bedknob (1945) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1947), and, of course, a set of the Borrowers titles that made her famous.

Quick witted

16 September 2004

IN rubbed contemporary sheep and with the fore-edges close cropped in some places, but generally in sound condition, a 1542 first edition of the scholar and dramatist Nicholas Udall’s translation of Erasmus’ compilation of ‘Apophthegmata’, as Apophthegmes, that is to saie, prompte, quicke, witty sayings, sold for £850 (Powell) in an Y Gelli sale of July 23.

Poor Laws

09 September 2004

IN a Lawrences of Crewkerne sale of July 6, a 1678 first (in full panelled calf) of Some Proposals for the imploying of the Poor. Especially in and about the City of London. And for the Prevention of Begging, the only known publication of the philanthropist Thomas Firmin, was sold at £1100.

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Graves and the man who kept him from one...

19 August 2004

LIKE other ex-Peralta-Ramos lots that have cropped up in recent weeks, this pair of 1934 firsts of Robert Graves’ I, Claudius and Claudius the God bore a red inked Chinese ownership stamp, but both were inscribed by the author in 1958, at a time when he was giving a lecture in Detroit, and they sold for $5500 (£2990) in a Sotheby’s New York sale of June 17.

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Holmes past and future...

10 August 2004

THE sale at $350,000 (£190,215) of Conan Doyle’s autograph manuscript of the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, has already been noted in the Antiques Trade Gazette (No.1646) but the Christie’s New York sale of June 9 that brought that very high bid also included the pair of first edition copies of The Adventures... and Memorials of Sherlock Holmes (1892 and ’94) seen right.

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20,000 Leagues in English equals £12,000

21 July 2004

FIRST English editions of the works of Jules Verne have been selling for high prices of late. In a July 6 sale held by Strides of Chichester, the fine copy of Sampson Low’s 10/6d edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, seen right, dated 1873 but possibly issued as early as October of the previous year, sold for £12,000.

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Poetic blooms by Stevenson

21 July 2004

ILLUSTRATED right is a very good copy of the 1885 first edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s splendid A Child’s Garden of Verses that made £1200 (Bauman Rare Books) as part of the Alan Fortunoff library at Bloomsbury Auctions on June 4.

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Rabbit fortunes...

21 July 2004

ONE yellow-covered rabbit book in the Dominic Winter sale of June 24, a scarce 1922 first of Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real, with its William Nicholson illustrations, was left unsold on an estimate of £4000-5000 (the original pictorial boards had been “rebacked in facsimile”) but the 1972 first of Richard Adams’ Watership Down, seen right – a copy used in the V&A’s 1977 ‘After Alice’ exhibition – made £610 in Swindon.