Casino Royale

The first-edition copy of Casino Royale sold by Chiswick Auctions on January 27 for £50,000. It has a presentation inscription to writer Paul Gallico.

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And so the 007 phenomenon was born, with Fleming responsible for 14 novels in all.

A first-edition, first-issue presentation copy of Casino Royale was offered at Chiswick Auctions on January 27 in a sale section dedicated to Gallico (1897-1976), the author, journal ist and screenwriter famous for novels such as The Snow Goose and The Poseidon Adventure.

Eight inscribed copies

The sale offered a complete set of Fleming’s Bond novels in their first editions – eight of them inscribed by Fleming to Gallico. Estimated at £18,000- 22,000, Casino Royale was inscribed by Fleming to Paul from Balzache. 1953 to the front endpaper. Balzache was possibly a play on words – ‘balls ache’ – as a joke between the two (perhaps related to the book’s Bond torture scene). The friends were known as great drinking buddies.

In original boards, the first issue dust-jacket was without the The Sunday Times review that appeared on slightly later copies. There were one or two condition issues such as foxing to the top edge and light foxing to a few preliminary pages, but it was described as an “excellent example overall”.

It sold for £50,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) to a UK buyer on the phone. In November 2020, in a ‘property of a gentleman’ single-owner collection of Fleming’s books offered by Sotheby’s, a copy of Casino Royale that Fleming gave to Leonard Russell, his editor at The Sunday Times, sold for £55,000 (ATG No 2475). It was inscribed Dear Leonard Read & Burn Ian.

Paul Gallico

A photo of the writer Paul Gallico. The black and white silver gelatin photographic print by Yousuf Karsh sold for £280 in the same sale as his signed Casino Royale copy.

Gallico was born in New York and died in Monaco but spent much of his life in Devon. He launched his writing career in 1919 with an interview of American champion boxer Jack Dempsey and, having asked to spar with him, Gallico then went on to describe how it felt to be knocked out.

From this start, his writing career continued to grow, moving to more general journalism then on to fiction and selling his stories to film studios such as Walt Disney.

He was also a war correspondent during the Second World War.

Shared interests

Gallico worked with Fleming on The Sunday Times, sharing interests in golf, diving and fencing. He also wrote an introductory essay to the first 007 omnibus Gilt-Edged Bonds.

Although the Chiswick sale of the ‘Gallico Estate’s Library and Contents’ had primarily a books and works and paper focus, it also included furniture, original art and posters.

Gallico’s own leather jacket, worn when he was a war correspondent, and Underwood typewriter used while he was reporting, sold together for £500.