Bloomsbury’s sale of Modern First Editions, Literature & History, Economics & Law on 13th March was a big success, emphasising 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 (lot 84). Brought to Bloomsbury by the charity Oxfam, it realised a world record price of £15000 (estimated £6000-8000). 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, which was not only torn but water damaged, it broke previous records of around £12000. Had it been in good condition, Roddy Newlands, Bloomsbury’s Modern Firsts expert, believes it might have fetched over £20000.
Amongst the Conan Doyle items, a signed first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles (lot 48) did particularly well, selling for £1900, just under five times the higher estimate. The first English edition in book form of The Waste Land by TS Eliot made £4600, comfortably over the pre sale estimate of £3000-4000. 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; lot 63 with a near full-page signed inscription fetched £10500 (estimate £6000-8000), the following lot made £6000 (estimated £1800-2200) and the other copy made £1400. Lot 67 From Russia, With Love with an inscription reading: ‘To Gomer Who has helped James Bond so much & so long…’ far exceeded its estimate of £1500-2000 by selling for £16500 probably because Bond himself was mentioned in the inscription. An autograph letter from Tolkien to Ingrid Pridgeon (lot 156) made a very respectable £1300 (estimate £400-600).
Other highlights in the sale included a group of privately owned first edition Jane Austen books. Lot 237 was Austen’s first book Sense and Sensibility, (1811) it had a contemporary author attribution of ‘Miss Austen’ and it sold for £12000 (estimate £10000-15000). The following lot was Pride and Prejudice also in three volumes, and it made £16500 comfortably over its estimate of £10000-15000; Mansfield Park fetched £3200 (estimate £2000-3000), Emma made £5500, just under the higher estimate, and Northanger Abbey sold for just above its higher estimate at £3600.