Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This property also included a smaller but very good selection of general English and American literature (see related articles above and Antiques Trade Gazette issue no. 1481), but here I am concerned only with the detective, crime and fantasy books, which even so ran to some 200 lots. Many of those were multiples, but for this report I have selected only single titles.

Reference to good copies of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (£3000); Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (£2000) and
Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (£5500) have appeared previously on these pages, but in addition to those lots pictured here (and in related articles below) – all of which, like those described below, may be assumed to be first editions and in jackets and to have been bought by collectors, unless otherwise stated – I should also like to add the following.

• A copy of The Wallet of Kai Lung, 1900 that is believed to have been Ernest Bramah’s own, at £1100.
• A 1938 proof copy of Rebecca, bound in half red cloth and paper boards and containing numerous proof reader’s marks and corrections, some of which are in Daphne du Maurier’s hand, which sold at £2000 to an American dealer.
• The first of Dick Francis’ annual racing thrillers, Dead Cert of 1962, at £1700 and John le Carré’s second book, A Murder of Quality, published that same year, at £2000 (P. Harrington).

I have also omitted from this report a couple of Dorothy Sayers titles, as these are included in a report (see, The Dorothy L. Sayers Archive, below) on the Sayers archive which was another major feature of this Sotheby’s sale.

Top right: in a good jacket, this copy of Eric Ambler’s first book, The Dark Frontier of 1936, was sold at £2600. An advertising copywriter, and the man who coined the phrase ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’ for Rice Crispies, Ambler began his career as novelist with a parody of the thrillers of the period, which favoured mad master criminals and clean-cut heroes.

Middle: a beautifully preserved copy of the Hound of the Baskervilles of 1902 was sold at £3500 (P. Harrington), while an equally handsome copy of the second collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, The Memoirs... of 1894, brought a bid of £2800 from a US dealer. (Not part of the Segal library was an 1890 first of The Sign of Four, the second Sherlock Holmes book, which sold at £3500).

Bottom right: Somerset Maugham’s 1928 collection of stories, Ashenden, or the British Agent was based on his own Intelligence work in Russia during WWI – much of which, he says in the preface, was monotonous and useless – and the book is acknowledged as the prototype of realistic spy fiction. Sold at £3500 to an American dealer.

Buyer’s premium: 17.5/15/10 per cent