“Alastair, from the Author – Read & Burn” was the inscription in a 1953 first issue of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale offered in recent Scottish sale.
The recipient, identified by the auction house as Alastair McKinley, chose to ignore the instruction and in a Lyon & Turnbull (25/20% buyer’s premium) sale of October 9 this copy of the very first James Bond novel was sold for a record £44,000*.
A 1954 first issue of Live and Let Die made £24,000. That too would have been a record were it not for another copy that Fleming inscribed for Winston Churchill “…from whom I stole a few words”, which sold at Christie’s New York in 2002 for $60,000 as part of the superb Roger Rechler library.
The Edinburgh copy was inscribed to Robert Bartlett, who served with Fleming in Naval Intelligence during the Second World War and provided the pencil sketch of Fleming used on the rear of the dust jacket.
Also printed there are the words “Ian Fleming is 44. Like his brother Peter, the more famous author, he was educated at Eton.”
The sale also produced a bid of £3800 for a rare copy in dust jacket of the 1914 American issue of Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear, which preceded the UK edition by three months. Only one other copy of the US edition has made a little more.
A record sum of £1900 seems definitely to have been achieved for a 1969, New York first of The Godfather that was signed and inscribed “For Debbie Woodrow, Happy Holiday” by its author, Mario Puzo.
The most expensive item in the auction, however, was an 1859 first of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, inscribed (presumably in a secretarial hand) to “Dr Allan Thomson with John Murray’s kind regards”, which sold at £130,000 (see News Digest, ATG No 2417).
The joints were split and the Freemans Variant A binding of green cloth gilt was a little bumped and rubbed, with a tape repair to an upper hinge. However, it would appear to be one of those presentation copies sent out by the publisher at the author’s request.
Close on 70 lots in the Edinburgh sale comprised an extensive collection of Jacobite books, pamphlets, prints, etc, formed initially by the diplomat and writer Ion Smeaton Munro (1883-1970) and added to by his son, who died earlier this year.
Many were large collections of pamphlets and books, but among those that lend themselves more readily to brief note was a two-page issue of The Daily Gazetteer of May 5, 1746, that brought news of the Battle of Culloden to Londoners.
That one made £1000, while sold at £1100 was a previously unrecorded penny pamphlet relating to the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. Featuring a crude woodcut of the impending fall of the executioner’s axe, this dealt with the trial and death sentence served on James, Earl of Derwentwater, and William, Viscount Kenmire. A very rare mezzotint portrait by J Williams of Prince Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, disguised as one Betty Burke after Culloden, made £750.
Sold at £1200 was a rare, eight-page tract by ‘Misomastropus’ called The Bawds Tryal and Execution.
Dated 1679, it was described as a dream narrative about an “unfortunate Soldier of Venus” seduced by an immoral and syphilitic (but once beautiful) bawd who destroys his health through her charms, plying him with alcohol and supposed fair-maidens.
The bawd eventually succumbs to her illness, while the soldier makes a miraculous recovery.
* In an October 25 sale at Christie’s New York another first of Casino Royale, uninscribed but said by the saleroom to be the best it had ever seen, was estimated at $40,000-60,000 but failed to sell.