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'The Riddle of the Sands' of 1903 by Erskine Childers – £2200 at Forum.

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A note received from Forum (25/2/12% buyer’s premium) regarding its sale of February 18 referred to value placed on dust jackets where modern books are concerned, but pointed out that on this occasion prices achieved for books that lacked that all-important wrapping were sometimes very strong.

Forum cited a copy of Orwell’s Animal Farm of 1945 sold at £850, and a bid of £2200 on a copy of Erskine Childers’ much-loved The Riddle of the Sands of 1903, and wondered when anyone last saw that famous work in a jacket.

As the illustration above shows, the lettering to the spine of the Forum copy was rubbed, but the front cover image of the Dulcibella was nice and clear. It is, however, a rather earlier work than those that fall most easily into the ‘must have a jacket’ category – and I wonder if it ever had one.

Auction records of the past 40 or so years make no mention of a jacket and only one other copy of the book has made as much at auction – at Sotheby’s, way back in 1985.

Accompanied by related autograph material, that copy had no jacket but it was inscribed to Basil Williams, an English historian and biographer who had served with its author in the Second Boer War and who later wrote a memoir about him.