Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wishful Thinking

I don’t know about you, but I’m easy when it comes to presents. Family and friends know I love books. Lush romances, lavish coffee table picture tomes, adventure travel, erudite histories . . . doesn’t matter, I read them all.

This weekend, as I was boxing up the latest overflow from my book shelves, I got thinking . . . if I could choose one REALLY special edition—some rare, valuable literary treasure for my own library—what would it be?

One of the first things that comes to mind is the original manuscript of Jane Eyre that I saw on display at the British Library. It was written in sepia ink, the perfectly spaced copperplate script unmarred by a single cross-out. (That was almost as impressive as the prose. How did she manage to write such a pristine page?!? I shudder to think of what my paper would look . . . thank god for computers.) Also on display was Jane Austen’s laptop writing desk, a cute little varnished wood thing. Talk about inspiration! Actually, my first choice would be the manuscript of Pride And Prejudice. Somehow, I doubt it is for sale.

But many notable books are. Just out of curiosity, I skimmed through some recent copies of The New York Times Book Review, where several notable rare book dealers list what they have available. Here are some of the offerings I found:

Virginia Woolf
, A Room of One’s Own, 1929
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” (I couldn’t resist showing my husband this one!)
Signed limited first edition,one of only 493 signed by Woolf in her characteristic purple ink. An exceptionally fine copy. $3600.

Arthur Rackham, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, 1906
Deluxe signed limited edition., containing 50 stunning color plates. “The glimpses Rackham provides of stylized London reality effectively set off the fairy tale life that exists in unsuspected conjunction with it, and he captures the lovliness of the Gardens themselves with masterly skills.” $15,000.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1883
Scarce first editio, first state, of Stevenson’s classic. A lovely copy, in the original cloth. $26,000.

Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books, 1884-85
First edition of Kipling’s beloved Jungle Books, two illustrated volumes in lovely original cloth gilt. $6,000.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843
First edition with hand-colored illustrations by John Leech, the only one of Dickens’ first edition to contain hand-colored illustrations. Beautifully bound in morocco-gilt. $12,500.

Kay Thompson/Hilary Knight, Eloise in Paris, 1957
First edition, inscribed by Knight. $1850

Dr. Seuss, The Cat In The Hat, 1957
“I can hold up these books and the fish on the rake . . .” First edition in the scarce original dust jacket. $9500.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven and Other Poems, 1845
“Once upon a midnight dreary . . .” First edition of “the most important volume of poetry that had been issued up to that time in America.: $20,000.

Okay, so if you could choose any rare book to receive as a Christmas present, what would it be?

Happy Holidays,
Andrea Pickens

7 comments:

Lois said...

First edition of Pride and Prejudice for me! :)

Lois

Georgie Lee said...

A first edition of Gone with the Wind signed by Margaret Mitchell.

Diana Holquist said...

Hey, I just want a signed copy of The Spy Wore Silk, please!

--Diana

Elizabeth Hoyt said...

I want Jane Austen's laptop! I don't care if it's so old that it only takes Word 1812, I still want it!

Or isn't that the kind of laptop you meant?

Anonymous said...

sizzle by jennifer cruise

kim h

andrea pickens said...

Ha, ha, ha, Elizabeth. Maybe we could fit it with a three prong plug and an old floppy disk. Hmmmm, somehow I think it might not perform quite as well as in its original state

Shari Anton said...

LOVE the Virginia Woolf quote! I have the room, need to work on the money :).