500 First edition books = over 1 million at auction

January 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

Whilst searching the internet for book related news I came across this interesting article about a man who collected first edition books for thirty years. He put them up for auction in October last year to fund his retirement. And a great retirement he will have with an estimated profit of over 1 million pounds for the collection. That’s a lot of cruise ship vacations!

Going, going, Gone With The Wind! Pensioner who

collected 500 first edition books set to land £1m at auction

  • Former theatre critic Clive Hirschhorn, 72, has amassed one of the world’s finest libraries of first edition books
  • Collection includes Stephen King’s The Shining (with a note from the author), Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel Casino Royale and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind
  • Rare copy of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is set to fetch £75,000
  • ‘I never read any of the first editions. If I wanted to, I would go out and buy a paperback version,’ says collector

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 13:23 GMT, 17 October 2012 | UPDATED: 18:43 GMT, 17 October 2012

A pensioner who did not touch his precious library of rare books for 30 years is to be rewarded for his patience when it sells for an expected £1million at auctioneers Bloomsbury of London later this month.

Clive Hirschhorn, 72, has amassed one of the world’s finest collections of first edition books, which reads more like a Who’s Who of 20th century fiction.

The retired theatre critic, from Midhurst, Sussex, knew the value of the books relied upon the condition of the original dust-jackets and so has hardly removed them from the shelves over the years.

 casino royale 

Casino Royale: Set to fetch Mr Hirschhorn £10,000-£15,000 at auction at the end of the month


Rare edition: Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mocking Bird is expected to sell for £1,000-£1,500


Nice catch: Catcher in the Rye should be worth £4,000-£6,000

If he wanted to read one, he bought a paper back version as the slightest blemish or tear on the jackets would have knocked hundreds of pounds off their price.

Mr Hirschhorn has now decided to part with his collection of about 500 books that he bought from second-hand shops and private dealers around the world.

A first edition copy of the literary classic The Great Gatsby he paid £1,500 for in 1987 is being tipped to sell for a staggering £75,000.

One of the earliest versions of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel Casino Royale that still has a first-issue dust-jacket is valued at £15,000.


Great value: F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby may fetch £75,000

lord of flies 

Golden: William Golding’s Lord of The Flies is valued at between £8,000-£12,000


Classic: Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene, could be worth as much as £60,000

An excellent copy of Graham Greene’s book Brighton Rock that has a ‘near-fine’ jacket has a pre-sale estimate of £60,000. First editions of this book are extremely rare as a warehouse fire destroyed most of them in 1938.

Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is set to sell for £50,000 while a first edition of William Golding’s Lord Of The Flies is valued at £12,000.


King’s speech: Author Stephen King has signed the book for Mr Hirschhorn, saying ‘Best wishes, and shine on!’. The book may fetch £1,200-£1,800

The world of crime is represented by a £3,000 early copy of Agatha Christie’s 1932 work Peril At End House while four volumes of AA Milne’s The Christopher Robin Books are expected to fetch £10,000.

Mr Hirschhorn managed to get a number of his books signed by the authors, with Stephen King writing ‘shine on’ in the front of a first edition copy of The Shining.

 Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mocking Bird, John le Carre’s Call For The Dead and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind are tipped to sell for a total of £27,000.

Mr Hirschhorn said he stopped collecting about three years ago and is now selling the books to help fund his retirement. He said: ‘I started the collection in 1984 after I read a newspaper article about first edition books while on a bus.

‘After that it was like a virus or infection that was in my blood and I couldn’t pass a second-hand bookshop without going in to look for first editions.

‘I always had with me a useful price guide telling me how much each book was worth and I would always pay less than that price.

‘But with first editions, the condition of the dust-jacket is everything.

‘I never read any of the first editions, if I wanted to I would go out and buy a paperback version. Any mark or tear on the jacket would take hundreds or thousands off the value.

‘I kept them on shelves in my bedroom well out of the sunlight. As I used to say, they were for show not for blow.

‘It is quite extraordinary just how much in value some of them have gone up by.

gone with the wind 

Going, going, gone: Margaret Mitchell’s classic Gone with the Wind is worth £6,000-£8,000


Rare: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier has been valued at between £3,000-£4,000

big sleep 

The big pay day: Raymond Chandler’s American classic The Big Sleep should fetch £8,000

‘I paid about £1,500 for the Great Gatsby in 1987 which wasn’t an inconsiderable sum at all but it could sell for about £100,000 now.

‘It is possibly one of the most iconic of all American novels and was turned into a film three times.’

Mr Hirschhorn said it was now costing more and more money to insure his library and he hopes to use some of the proceeds to buy a new flat to rent out.

One of his smartest investments was paying about £120 pounds for To Kill A Mocking Bird which is now worth 100 times that amount.

Rupert Powell, the deputy chairman of auctioneers Bloomsbury of London, said: ‘This is one of the most important private collections of modern first editions to come onto the market the last ten years.

‘A particularly remarkable aspect is the near-perfect condition of the original dust-jackets, and this will appeal to all true collectors.’

Other rare first editions in the sale include Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell To Arms, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and John Steinbeck’s The Grapes Of Wrath and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.



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