James Bond – Collecting Rare First Edition Books

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This Autumn the 24th James Bond film is due to be released and whenever a new James Bond film comes out Peter Harrington, the UK’s largest rare book seller and one of the leading rare book sellers in the world, notice a massive increase in interest and demand for Ian Fleming’s books and items related to James Bond. With this in mind Peter Harrington have issued the below guide to collecting rare James Bond books.

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Why are people interested in collecting Ian Fleming’s books?

Ian Fleming’s books are some of the most popular spy thrillers ever written which are as popular today as they were when they were first published in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Most also have beautifully designed, distinctive and interesting dust jackets and there are still affordable first editions of most of the books which make them an accessible starting point for those interested in collecting rare modern literature. With their interesting dust jackets and affordable prices they also make exceptional presents for people of all ages.

 

What should you look for when buying an Ian Fleming book?

Ian Fleming wrote 14 James Bond books all of which were published by Jonathan Cape in London between 1953 and 1966 and there are just two simple rules to identifying a Fleming first edition:

It should say Jonathan Cape on the title page;

It should say “first published…” with the correct year (and no other) on the back of the title page.

To be truly collectable it should also be in its original dust jacket, which you can tell is an original jacket as it won’t have any quotations from critics and also it should be in a good condition.

 

Are some books more special than others?

When The Man with the Golden Gun was first published a very small number of copies were actually decorated with a golden gun on the front of the book. Unfortunately this was quickly abandoned for economic reasons so books with a golden gun on them are rare and therefore more valuable.

Also Ian Fleming signed a limited edition of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service books which are also rare and more valuable.

Scarcity also plays a role in determining the books’ value. Very few copies of the first three books were published (Casino Royale, Live & Let Die and Moonraker) whereas Octopussy, Ian Fleming’s last book, had a much larger print run and is therefore much more common so fine copies start from just £65.

Apart from these exceptions the price of the books depends on their condition. Perfect copies cost tens of thousands of pounds whilst nice ones are available from only a few hundred pounds.

 

How have prices faired?

Ian Fleming’s books have been consistently strong sellers over the last 50 years but have become even more in demand when block buster films have been released, for example Casino Royale became much more popular following the release of the 2006 Daniel Craig Bond film.

Pom Harrington says…

“It is impossible to give exact price comparisons for different copies, because prices vary enormously according to the condition of the jacket. However, Peter Harrington have been lucky enough to have sold one particularly fine copy of Casino Royale four times in the past few years: for £22,000 in 2002; £26,000 in 2006; £30,000 in 2008; and lastly, in 2013, for £50,000. This gives a good indication of the price trend of James Bond first editions in that period.”

 

What about the later James Bond books?

After Ian Fleming’s death in 1964 other authors were hired to continue the Bond novels including Kingsley Amis, John Gardner, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffrey Deaver and William Boyd. Their Bond books are also becoming collectable with Peter Harrington for example having a signed first edition copy of Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks for £125.

Demand is also high for James Bond related items and Peter Harrington have a You Only Live Twice film poster from 1967 available for £1,750.

 

 

Copies for sale at Peter Harrington

Peter Harrington currently have 29 rare individual copies of James Bond books for sale ranging in price from £65 to £45,000. They also have some complete sets of all the Ian Fleming books available priced from £8,500 to £17,500. All of the books are available with images and descriptions at www.peterharrington.co.uk and Peter Harrington offer an ‘unconditional guarantee’ for each item they sell on its authenticity and completeness as described.

As Adam Blakeney, the Modern Literature book expert at Peter Harrington says…

“Everyone loves James Bond and these books are often the ones which people who are new to book collecting buy first as they are well-known, have fun looking dust jackets and good copies of them are highly affordable. With the new Bond film Spectre being released this Autumn we expect a surge in demand for them.”

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