Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rare Were-Wolves Found in Beverly Hills

by Stephen J. Gertz

BARING-GOULD, Sabine. The Book of Were-Wolves:
Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition.
London: Smith, Elder, 1865.
First edition.

"In many a distant village there exists the Legend of the Were-Wolf or Wolf Man...a legend of a strange mortal man with the hair and fangs of an unearthly beast...his hideous howl and dirge of death" (The Wolf Man, 1941).

In one of those distant villages, the sleepy little hamlet of Beverly Hills, CA, the legend has become reality. It is now the home of rare Were-Wolves.

A copy of the scarce first edition of Sabine Baring-Gould's classic, oft-reprinted, The Book of Were-Wolves, which recently surfaced after an absence of ten years' worth of full moons, was heroically captured  in a life or death struggle by Mark Hime,  proprietor of  Biblioctopus, the bilaterally symmetric, multi-tenacled rare book business in Beverly Hills, who is now  offering it just in time for All Hallow's Eve 2010.

CRANACH, Lucas. Werewolf (1512).
The Book of Were-Wolves was the first volume in English to  be wholly devoted to the subject. Within, Baring-Gould collected the legends, folklore, and tales from many cultures over many centuries. It remains the primary reference on the subject simply because it has never been surpassed.

18th century engraving.
The last copy to come to auction, ten years ago, was, as Hime describes it,  a fright, "a glue-repaired horror, damp-stained inside and out, a jump-into-the-wolf-pit-with-a-pork-chop-around-your-neck kind of copy," a condition statement that reads like a CSI report; all it lacks is a chalk outline.

German woodcut, 1722.
 Rare book dealers are often asked about how they acquire material. Watch Mark Hime of Biblioctopus subdue, after violent struggle, the Were-Wolf in Beverly Hills:

What we bookmen do to snag good books...silver bullets, silver-topped canes; whatever it takes.

BARING-GOULD, Sabine. The Book of Were-Wolves: Being an Account of a Terrible Superstition. London: Smith, Elder, 1865. First Edition. Octavo. xii, 266 pp. Illustrated.

Image of The Book of Were-Wolves binding courtesy of Biblioctopus.


  1. A few years ago I realized that during a visit to Colchester UK I could take a bus to nearby Mersea Island, connected by a causeway to the mainland. Sabine Baring-Gould had been a preacher on the island for many years and wrote a romantic novel entitled "Mehala" set on Mersea, which I dutifully read. I liked it, but most people probably wouldn't. Another book set on the island was "Blackerchief," Marjorie Allingham's first novel written when she was just a teenager. I liked that, too, but she didn't and tried to have it surpressed. My favorite part of the trip was finding the church in which Baring-Gould preached and standing in his old pulpit. He also wrote "Onward Christian Soldiers" and the 27-volume "Lives of the British Saints," which I have no plans to read. B-G was one of many 19th-century English eccentrics, and I'm always pleased to run across his name.

  2. First off, I want to thank you for writing this article. My father is a book dealer, I am more of a collector, so we accumulate a lot of stuff and my Mother just recently found this book in the basement, in a box, under piles of other books. I didn't think too much of it at first when she told me about it, they often bring me interesting occult books and other random off-the-wall subjects for me to research or keep for my own collection. I thumbed through it, found numerous scraps of paper in the book from previous owners and dealers that read: "???," and "50$?? 500$?" Even my Dad was stumped, "I have no idea what this book is worth, I can't find anything about it." So the original plan was to throw it on eBay and hope for the best…. *gulp. I sometimes come across books that make me feel a little uneasy, this was definitely one of them; I knew there had to be something special about it besides the simple fact that the subject matter was VERY attractive. So I did my research, found this article and my heart skipped a beat! It is now 2014, and through my research I found that this book sold for $5,200 at auction almost 1 year ago. I am now in the process of professionally re-attaching the front and back covers and cleaning it up a bit, then I will continue to find the right home for it. Nothing compares to the feeling of discovering buried treasure!


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