Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’11th April sale of Modern Literature. First Editions: The Hobbit, The Catcher in the Rye, Casino Royale…
As the third and final part of Peter Jackson’s epic film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit reaches the final stages of production, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions offer Tolkien fans the world over the opportunity to buy a first edition of the original book, The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again (1937), at their sale of Modern Literature in London onFriday 11th April.
Published in September 1937 the book tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, and acts as a precursor to Tolkien’s famous The Lord of The Rings (1954-1955) trilogy. The continuing popularity of the book, and the recent adaptation to film, make copies of this work coveted collectors’ items, this copy is estimated to sell for £15,000 – 20,000. [Lot 139]
The adventures of secret agent James Bond have a timeless appeal, and a complete collection of writer Ian Fleming’s 007 novels comprise lots 48 – 62 of this sale. Although all are in excellent condition, of particular note is a first edition of Casino Royale (1953), the book that introduced the character of James Bond, and made a further 11 Bond novels possible.
This iconic book, the dust-jacket of which was designed by Fleming himself, was an instant success with readers with 4,728 copies selling in the UK within a month of publication, and a further two print runs within the same month selling at the same speed. More than 60 years later buyers have an opportunity to purchase one of the books from the original print run. This superb copy comes in an almost pristine dust-jacket and is priced at £10,000 – 15,000. [Lot 48]
Live and Let Die (1954) followed hot on the heels of Casino Royale and was published on the 5th April 1954. Fleming’s second Bond novel met with an equally favourable reception, and a print run of 7,500 copies quickly sold out. Written at Fleming’s estate in Jamaica, perhaps not surprisingly called ‘Goldeneye’, the story centres around Bond chasing the American criminal Mr. Big, who is involved in smuggling 17th century gold coins from British territories in the Caribbean. Another near-fine example of the first edition is estimated to sell for £4,000 – 6,000.[Lot 49]
From one national treasure to another and an almost complete set of the works of P.G. Wodehouse. Part of a private collection, lots 150-208 include an extremely rare first edition copy of Wodehouse’s first adult novel, Love Among the Chickens (1906). Written when Wodehouse was only 25 the book introduces the character of Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge who famously reoccurs throughout Wodehouse’s short stories, this copy is estimated at £2,000 – 3,000. [Lot157]
The collection also includes a number of works featuring Wodehouse’s most enduring pair, Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. Immortalised on screen by the nation’s favourites, Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster are now enjoying a spell at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End, where the production has been nominated for best comedy at the 2014 Olivier Awards. A copy of the first book to feature the duo, My Man Jeeves (1919), is estimated at £250-350 [Lot 166], and titles that are rarely seen in their dust-jackets include The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), estimated at £1,000-1,500 [Lot 170], and Carry On, Jeeves (1925), estimated at £800 – 1,200. [Lot 173]
An autograph manuscript poem entitled The Dug Out (1918) written by eminent First World War poet, Siegfried Sassoon in August 1918, serves as a moving tribute to soldiers in the trenches. Belonging to British writer and journalist Henry Major Tomlinson, who is well-known for his anti-war novels and short stories, the poem was written in pencil and overwritten in ink by Sassoon. It is accompanied by a group of photographs of Sassoon and the Tomlinsons, some of which are signed by Sassoon himself and come directly from the family of H.M.Tomlinson. It is estimated at £2,000-3,000.
Also offered for sale by Tomlinson’s family is a signed first edition presentation copy of Sassoon’s book of religious poetry,Sequences (1956). The presentation inscription is from Siegfried Sassoon to H.M. Tomlinson and Tomlinson’s daughter Dorothy, and includes a further presentation inscription below to ‘Mum & Dad’ in Tomlinson’s hand. Also included is an autograph letter, signed from Sassoon to Tomlinson, which reads: “Your messages always sustain my spirit greatly (hence the dedication). No one else understands – or anyhow expresses understanding – as you do.” This very personal book is estimated to sell for £200-300 [Lot 134]
J. D. Salinger’s classic novel, Catcher in the Rye (1951), is one of the most popular books of the 20th century, and has been translated into all the world’s major languages. Not without controversy, the book has become a classic coming of age novel, popular amongst teenagers for its approach to the challenging themes of adolescent angst, identity and alienation. The book was the most censored work in high schools throughout the U.S. between 1961 and 1982, and has been in the top ten most challenged books in the past two decades. A first edition copy of this defining novel, in excellent condition, is offered with an estimate of £4,000 – 6,000. [Lot 132]
This auction will be held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ London saleroom in the heart of Mayfair, with viewing from Monday 7h – Thursday 10th April. The catalogue and details of online bidding with no additional fee can be found at www.bloomsburyauctions.com.