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Books and Manuscripts

Modern First Editions

Modern first editions is an area of book collecting which has a character all of its own: you have the usual satisfaction of owning a book which, as the first edition, has been scrutinised and influenced by the author. This brings you as close as possible to the author's intentions for their work, which perhaps can inform the reading of it.

This copy of James Farrell's rare 1965 second work sold for £300.

This copy of James Farrell's rare 1965 second work sold for £300.

The fact of your book's recent publication means that much biographical information may be available about the author for you to understand their world better. They may still be alive and you have seen them interviewed or even heard them read from their works. Some modern works will have had enormous social or cultural influence.

Early works by important authors probably attract the most attention in this field, really from the end of the 19th century onwards. There are hundreds of authors that might appeal to the collector from Agatha Christie to John Fowles, from TE Lawrence to Enid Blyton.

Condition and originality of condition are terribly important in this field. Most 20th century books were originally published with 'dust jackets', often printed with pictures and further information about the book, price, etc. They were never really intended to be kept and in most cases weren't. However, now their presence or absence can make a phenomenal difference to the value of a book: for instance, a first of JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit with all its 'issue points' (ie: misprints, etc) can fetch £3,000 without its dust jacket. With the jacket, you're looking at more like £20,000.

You do have to be careful as facsimiles are common.


Roger CollicottRoger Collicott
Rare Book Expert