- SELLING BOOKS TO US
- CUSTOMER LIST, E-CATALOGUES & ‘WANTS LIST’
Every effort is made to describe a book accurately, with due allowance for its age and format. The authenticity of books is guaranteed including, where applicable, author's signatures. Books are not described as 'FIRST EDITIONS' unless they are first editions i.e. first impression and, where applicable, first state.
In the case of Modern First Editions (post-1950) all books are First Editions, first impressions, published in London unless otherwise stated. Where present, authors' or illustrators' signatures are found written directly on the title page unless otherwise indicated.
The category 'Modern Poetry' covers all poetry published after 1900.
EDITIONS and IMPRESSIONS
In the simplest of terms, an edition consists of all copies of a book printed at any time from one setting-up of type. An impression (or printing) is all of the copies printed at any one time. Because books are complicated creatures, nothing is that simple. The best, and fuller explanation (for the collector, as opposed to the bibliographer) can be found in John Carter and Nicolas Barker’s invaluable ‘ABC for Book Collectors’ [8th Edition, with corrections, 2010]. Thus, a ‘First Edition, first impression’ of a book – usually, and apart from ‘limited editions’, the most desirable – is a copy which was one of the first printing of that book to be produced for the publishers. There will always be a finite number of books in a ‘first edition, first printing’ but, depending upon the popularity of the author, this may run to many thousands of copies and will only be apparent either by the absence of any statement indicating the reprinting of the book or, for more modern books, by the inclusion of a ‘printing sequence line’ which includes, or may consist solely of, the number ‘1’. Thus, the following ‘printing sequence line’: ‘246897531’, indicates a ‘first edition, first impression’ of the book, because the line includes the number ‘1’. Different publisher’s use difference sequences, but the presence of the number ‘1’, within the sequence, indicates a first edition, first impression. If the sequence line does not include the number ‘1’ then the later impression (reprinting) will be indicated by the lowest number in the sequence: thus; ‘4689753’ indicates the third printing of the book.
For an edition to be a ‘limited edition’, this description together with an indication of the precise number of copies printed, will generally be found within the preliminary pages of the book or on a special page known as the ‘limitation page’. Many limited editions consist of several hundred or less copies (occasionally as few as 50, less commonly fewer than that), and are often signed by the author. Some modern first editions have, in recent years, been produced in so-called ‘limited’ editions of 1,000 or more copies, often in bindings that differentiate them from ‘ordinary’ first editions. Because numbers are finite and known, ‘limited editions’ have become very collectable.
The signatures of authors (and sometimes of famous previous owners) directly on the title or another preliminary page of a book can, and usually does, enhance the book’s value, although signed personal dedications to unknown recipients are less desirable. However, if the dedicatee is also well-known or associated with the author, then the book assumes much greater interest to collectors. In recent years some books are offered with the author’s signature on a separate bookplate or sheet attached to the book but not forming part of its binding. This may be the only way in which the author is prepared to provide his ‘signature’. As with all things ‘signed’ from books to photographs, football shirts to boxing gloves or other ephemera, forgeries abound and buyers must be beware. However, signed books offered by us are guaranteed to be authentic.
The same book may appear in a variety of bindings, most commonly as a hardback or paperback; we avoid these simple terms and describe the type of binding more accurately. It is important to know that some books, or first editions of some books, were only ever produced with soft covers (often identified as ‘PBO’ – paperback only). The binding of hardback books usually includes some form of hard board covered, typically, with cloth, plain or illustrated paper, leather of various kinds or artificial fabrics simulating cloth or leather. The quality of the binding and the existence of any damage or repair to it is crucial to value; thus, for example, books with bent (or ‘pushed’) corners, or bumps and indentations to the edges of boards, or otherwise stained or damaged will be of less value to those which are ‘sharp’ and unblemished. Booksellers should identify these kinds of defects in descriptions of the book, as we do.
The significance of the existence and condition of a dust-jacket (sometimes called a ‘dust-wrapper’) has changed from something that was merely discarded, decorative or protective, to something that is now considered by some collectors to be more important than the book itself. By reason of its relative fragility, dust-jackets are susceptible to creasing, tearing, staining, rubbing and other various forms of wear and damage. If the inner flap has the price printed upon it that price may have been ‘clipped’ off, thereby, arguably, damaging the jacket. With modern first editions the condition of the dust-jacket, and whether or not it is price-clipped, will be of particular significance to the price at which the book is offered for sale.
All of the books we offer which have dust-jackets, will have fitted to them clear, removable, protective sleeves made of materials used in professional archives which will not themselves damage the jacket paper.
As stated by Lawrence Worms in his excellent ‘Cataloguing for Booksellers’, “with condition, we are left to our own devices and an element of subjectivity is always liable to creep in”. The following is intended to assist those reading our descriptions.
'Fine': A Fine book approaches the condition in which it was when first published, without wear or deterioration. The book may have been opened and read, but there are no defects to the book, dust-jacket or pages.
'Very Good': Describes a book that shows some signs of wear - but no tears (unless specifically identified) - on either binding or paper. The degree of wear here, will depend upon the age of the book and its dust-jacket (if any), and, often, upon the quality of the paper used in the original production process.
'Good': Describes a book which is in a reasonable second-hand condition and better than ‘average’ for the age of the book, which, in fact, might not be that good at all!
Fair and Poor: : indicate books which are below average in condition, but might nevertheless be useful purely as reading copies or research/study ‘working’ copies. They are likely to be well worn (loved?), with tears, stains, notes in the margins, or the occasional child’s crayon mark (that’s the mark, not the child),
Grades of condition between the above may be described as being, for example, 'Near Fine' or 'Very Good Plus> (or Minus)'. ‘Poor Minus’ will help you light the fire!
The quality of paper used in book production varies significantly from the very poor quality used, for example, in wartime (so called ‘economy paper’), to paper that is of high quality and hand-made. Poor quality paper, as found in many modern first editions, particularly in the 1990's, may be subject to 'tanning' or ‘toning’ - a browning effect to the page edges. If so, it is noted in the description. It is occasionally difficult to find any copies of certain books without this effect; if so the description may contain the words ‘as usual’, qualifying the condition.
The ink used in the production of dust-jackets may be prone to fading when exposed to daylight (the more so if exposed to direct sunlight). Where present, this will be noted in the description, and where this is usual for the particular book, this will be stated. In such cases, where it is stated that there is 'no fading' or 'slight fading' this is intended to indicate an exceptional copy.
Books to which bookplates or prize plates have been attached will detract from a book’s value, as will most inscriptions, marks of previous ownership or other additions in handwritten or other forms, unless, in any case, associated with the ‘famous’.
SELLING BOOKS TO US
We will always consider purchasing books. However, our particular interest lies in the acquisition of books in Fine or, at least, Very Good condition relating to the following: bibliography, modern poetry, and T. E. Lawrence.
If you wish to sell books we will require, in advance, full details in writing and then, if they are of interest to us, the opportunity to view the books before possible purchase. When providing details please state the full name of the author, the date of publication, the edition and impression, together with a brief description of condition of the book and of any dust-jacket.
We are always willing to find books for customers and encourage you to provide us with your ‘Wants List’. You should provide as much detail as possible and make it clear what condition you expect and are willing to pay for!