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First Edition

Book collectors seek out first editions as they represent the original form in which a book was originally published.

Signed and inscribed copies are even more desirable, and the ‘dedication copy’ – the copy which is inscribed to the person to whom the author dedicated the book – is more sought after still.


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Torn jacket but a tidy sum

17 October 2022

Though the dust jacket featuring one of Pauline Baynes’ illustrations for the book is torn with loss and exhibits a number of patched repairs, a 1950 first edition of 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' did sell for £1100 against a guide of £500-700 on October 6 at Buckinghamshire saleroom Bourne End Auctions (17.5% buyer’s premium).

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Expand an interest in Beatrix Potter

12 September 2022

The ‘property of a lady’, this concertina-style wallet book by Beatrix Potter, 'The Story of Miss Moppet', is a first edition published by Frederick Warne & Co, London & New York, 1906.

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Gilbert exerts a strong magnetic pull

12 September 2022

Catalogued as a ‘very good, complete copy in original condition of the first really modern scientific book published in England’, a 1600 first edition (Peter Short) of De Magnete by William Gilbert is estimated at £10,000-15,000 in Forum Auction’s Fine Books, Manuscripts & Works on Paper sale in London on September 29.

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Harvard College makes print debut mention

12 September 2022

Freeman’s September 21 Books and Manuscripts auction, in Pennsylvania is led by an ‘extremely rare’ first edition of 'New Englands First Fruits' (estimate $20,000-30,000), a 1643 account of Puritan evangelisation in New England.

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Evelyn Waugh’s first book inscribed by man who wooed author’s first wife

29 August 2022

Copy of his first book was a later gift from Sir John Heygate to Tarka the Otter author

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‘First editions, second thoughts’ of notable names

22 August 2022

The headline borrows the title given to an online Christie’s (26/20% buyer’s premium) sale – one that presented more than 80 modern first editions.

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Agatha Christie makes plea to ‘Pop’ to promote her book

08 August 2022

Bid to £16,000 in a sale held by Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) of Dorchester was a 1921 first of Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious House at Styles.

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Frankenstein first now in second place

06 June 2022

Just one other example of Mary Shelley’s famous tale has made more at auction

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Potter proof set uncovered

23 May 2022

A London saleroom offered what was billed as the only “known” surviving set of uncorrected galley proofs for Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone.

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Collecting classics: The market for books on political thought from Leviathan to Animal Farm

16 May 2022

If social media makes you feel like Big Brother is watching you, and if truth occasionally feels stranger than fiction, then like many bibliophiles you might be exploring books that suggest models for society and the role of the individual.

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Investment that brings a big return

07 March 2022

One of the stand-out lots at Sotheby’s New York (26/20/13.9% buyer’s premium) was a 1949 first printing of The Intelligent Investor.

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First edition of TS Eliot's first book on offer at Swann

14 February 2022

Swann Galleries is holding a sale of Books and Autographs in New York on February 17.

Casino Royale

Knockout £50,000 for Casino Royale first

07 February 2022

When Ian Fleming sent an initial typescript of his first James Bond book Casino Royale to his good friend Paul Gallico asking if it was publishable, he got the reply “the book is a knockout!”.

 The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom

Pick of the week: Whisky travelogue in demand at auction

17 January 2022

In the early 1880s Alfred Barnard, secretary of Harper’s Weekly Gazette (the magazine that morphed into today’s Harpers Wine & Spirit), decided to visit all distilleries in Scotland, England and Ireland.

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Tolkien classic takes £46,000 in Dorset

29 November 2021

Among the book lots offered as part of an October 7-8 sale at Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) the earliest was a Burgundian ‘Hours of the Virgin’ manuscript.

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ATG letter: Second go at ‘first’ books terminology

22 November 2021

I have just received ATG No 2516 wherein the old question of first edition and first impression is raised in the Letters section.

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‘Surprizing’ Crusoe result in Oxford

08 November 2021

Top lot in a sale held by Mallams (25% buyer’s premium) of Oxford was a 1719-20, first edition set of 'The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe…', 'The Farther Adventures…' and 'The Serious Reflections…' in later but very smart bindings of red morocco gilt by Francis Bedford of London.

A Harry Potter book

ATG letter: First impressions count when it comes to books confusion

01 November 2021

I wonder if it could be explained to me why, in the currently fashionable world of ‘modern first editions’, there is a trend to link the words ‘first edition’ and ‘impression’ in the same sentence.

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Ghastly tales, joyful vendors

04 October 2021

Remarkably well-preserved 1818 Frankenstein and 1897 Dracula firsts impress in New York

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The web shop window: Copy of Great Plague death list in unusually healthy condition

04 October 2021

Thousands of items are available to buy from dealers online. Here we pick out one that caught our eye this week.