Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First Auction Exclusively Devoted to British Spy Novels Coming Soon

Journey into Fear (1940). Estimate: $2K-$3K.

On Thursday, April 8, auction house Swann Galleries in New York will offer The Otto Penzler Collection of British Espionage and Thriller Fiction. The sale represents a select portion of the private library of the well-known mystery fiction specialist and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City who amassed his collection of rare spy and suspense books over 40 years. In that time, Penzler befriended many noted authors including Eric Ambler, Ken Follett, John Gardner and others, who inscribed copies of their works.

“British spy novels are among the greatest of all works in the mystery genre,” Penzler said in the introduction to the auction catalogue. “This is the first auction ever devoted entirely to this important literary genre.”

Casino Royale (1953), "near perfect. "Estimate: $20K-$30K.

The auction offers more than twenty-five of these books, and among the most notable are a first edition of the first Bond book, Casino Royale, in near perfect condition, 1953 ($20,000 to $30,000); a fine copy of Moonraker, inscribed and signed by the author to known Fleming collector Eileen M. Cond, $15,000 to $25,000); and a signed limited edition of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the first novel published after the debut of the film series and an immediate bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, 1963 ($6,000 to $9,000).

Moonraker (1955), inscribed and signed by the author. Estimate: $15K to $25K.

There is also a fascinating archive of correspondence between Fleming, illustrator Richard Chopping—who created many of the best known dust jacket images for the series—and others, containing details about jacket art, payment information and more, 62 letters in total, 1950s-60s ($12,000 to $18,000).
Cause For Alarm (1938), signed and inscribed. Estimate: $5K-$7K.

A run of works by Eric Ambler includes a rare first edition in the scarce dust jacket of Cause for Alarm, signed and inscribed to Penzler ($5,000 to $7,000); a first edition of Journey into Fear, which was made into the popular film noir starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton ($2,000 to $3,000); and signed first American editions of both books.

 Stamboul Train (1932). Estimate: $2K-$3K.

Among notable first editions of Graham Greene works are a bright copy of Stamboul Train ($2,000 to $3,000); and a wartime printing of The Ministry of Fear, written during his Foreign Service appointment in West Africa, 1943 ($1,000 to $1,500).

There are 319 lots being offered, with estimated prices at $100 and up.

The catalog to the sale is available online.

Or, if you prefer to go insane while reading a rare book auction catalogue, by all means view the catalog in its “3D” version. Special viewing glasses are not necessary but you may wish to have a 3D brick at hand to throw at your computer’s screen: It’s simply a Flash-animated version with pages that “turn” with the ease of pulling tape off of paper, a perfect recreation of the facility and convenience of the print catalog reading experience - from Pandora. Where's a Navi when you need one?

Of related interest:

Is the Rare Book World Ready for a Fully-Interactive Catalog on CD? Part 1.

Is the Rare Book World Ready for a Fully-Interactive Catalog on CD? Part 2.

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