Published: April 29, 2008
Bloomsbury’s sale of modern first editions, literature and history, economics and law on March 13 was a big success, emphasizing once again that Bloomsbury is the natural home of first editions.
The star of the modern firsts section was undoubtedly a single Graham Greene, Rumour at Nightfall . Brought to Bloomsbury by the charity Oxfam, it realized a world record price of $36,300. As Greene had never allowed it to be reprinted, there is a paucity of this book on the market, which combined with its extremely rare dust-jacket †not only torn but water-damaged †it broke previous records of around $24,000. Had it been in good condition, Roddy Newlands, Bloomsbury’s modern firsts expert, said he believes it might have fetched more than $40,000.
Among the Conan Doyle items, a signed first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles sold for $3,830, just under five times the higher estimate. The first English edition in book form of “The Waste Land” by TS Eliot made $9,290. Bloomsbury regularly breaks its own record prices for Ian Fleming, and in this sale the Bond books all did extremely well. There were three 1955 Moonraker first editions †one with a near full-page signed inscription fetched $21,200; the following lot made $12,000; and the copy made $2,800. From Russia, With Love, with an inscription reading, “To Gomer Who has helped James Bond so much & so long,” sold for $33,300, probably because Bond himself was mentioned in the inscription.
Other highlights included a group of privately owned first edition Jane Austen books. Austen’s first book, Sense and Sensibility , 1811, had a contemporary author attribution of “Miss Austen,” and it sold for $24,200. Pride and Prejudice, also in three volumes, made $33,300; Mansfield Park fetched $6,460, Emma made $11,400, and Northanger Abbey sold for just above its higher estimate at$7,250.
Prices have been converted from British pounds to US dollars and include the buyer’s premium.
For information, +44 20 7495 9494 or www.bloomsburyauctions.com .
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