A copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that broke all previous records to sell at $380,000 (£286,575) in a Dallas saleroom was noted in ATG No 2527.
However, earlier works of fantasy by British authors also impressed in the December 9-10 auction held by Heritage (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium). Sold at $82,500 (£62,500) was a splendidly preserved set of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy of 1954-55; the books all first impressions in first state jackets, and housed a specially designed clamshell case by the Chelsea Bindery.
A complete first edition set of the seven books of 1950-56 that make up CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, all of them signed to the title page by the illustrator, Pauline Baynes, and all in their original, unrestored but fine to near fine jackets, realised $80,000 (£60,605).
Twentieth century fix
Also among the 20th century works on which this selection focuses – and also bid to $80,000 (£60,605) – was a 1925 first of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It was summed up as a near fine copy in a very good dust jacket, and as a book uncommon, and indeed rare, in any state at auction. A 1930 first of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon realised $38,000 (£28,790).
A copy of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale that made $34,000 (£25,760) was described by Heritage director James Gannon as being in gorgeous shape, and as a copy owned by someone who “…didn’t just hide it on a shelf but understood its literary significance and kept the first issue blue dust jacket – notoriously susceptible to sunning – both bright and beautiful”.
Described by Heritage as stunning, a signed 1960 first of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird made $28,000 (£21,120), while among books aimed at younger readers, a 1964 first of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was bid to a record $19,000 (£14,395).
Also certainly worthy of note was a bid of $36,000 (£27,270) on a lot presenting 79 issues of Strand Magazine from the years 1891-1927 – some better preserved than others. What they offered were the first printed appearances of 58 Sherlock Holmes stories, including those that marked the initial serialisation of The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Valley of Fear. All were textually complete and had all illustrations present.