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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

Fantastic Finds

A science fiction and fantasy collection traces the development of the genres By Peggy Carouthers Peggy Carouthers lives in North Carolina and is the editor of custom content at Journalistic Inc.

One collection at auction this November exemplifies the ways the science fiction and fantasy genres have evolved. Hosted by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, the Kuntz Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy spans from the late nineteenth century through the 1970s, with a few items of earlier origins. The selection covers much of the genres’ development, and most of the items have remarkably preserved jackets and many have signatures.

A first-state edition of J.R.R. Tolkie’s The Hobbit. Courtesy of Leslie Hindman.

“My taste was very universal, so I began to buy not just current fiction authors,” says collector Ron Kuntz of the Chicagoland area, “but I started buying early twentieth century, late nineteenth century, and a few [books] going into earlier times.”

Though the collection includes diverse pieces, as a whole, it paints a clear picture of the trajectory of science fiction and fantasy literature.

Early items in the collection include a first American printing of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and an early state of John William Polidori’s Vampyre, as well as items by George Griffiths, H. Rider Haggard, and Charles B. Cory.

A first-state copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with hand correction on the rear flap and a near-fine jacket is included in the sale, as well as the Lord of the Rings trilogy in first states and jackets and a typed letter signed by Tolkien concerning the late addition of the hobbits to the Lord of the Rings universe.

A signed copy of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot in a near fine jacket. Courtesy of Leslie Hindman.

Also included are typescript drafts with manuscript annotations of Ray Bradbury’s short stories, “At Midnight in the Month of June” and “Way in the Middle of the Air,” which includes an original sketch by artist Joseph Mugnaini of Dr. Moundshroud from The Halloween Tree.

First editions of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and The Invisible Man and a first edition of Food of the Gods with a dedication doodle on the front endpaper are also part of the sale.

A strong concentration of Robert Heinlein’s works are included, many of them signed, with near fine jackets from Stranger in a Strange Land, The Man Who Sold the Moon, Space Cadet, and Rocket Ship Galileo.

Numerous copies of August Derleth, mostly signed, and more than thirty editions of Arkham House are included in the collection in fine jackets. Also featured are Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Hugo Gernsback, Philip K. Dick, and Karel ?apek.

“In working with Mr. Kuntz’s collection, we’ve become fascinated with the prospect of drawing the science fiction and fantasy genres within the scope of Americana,” says Jason Rovito, the recently appointed director of the Fine Books and Manuscripts department of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

“Regardless of their place of publication, Frankenstein and The Time Machine can make sense next to Stranger in a Strange Land or Fahrenheit 451. I’m particularly enjoying the fact that the fantasies of Edgar Rice Burroughs are sitting right next to the cut-ups of William S. Burroughs’ The Soft Machine.”

Rovito also hopes to include a thematic consignment session as part of the November sale to help collectors build diverse collections.

“If one dealer has a single work on the Apocalypse in her inventory while a librarian might be looking to de-accession two works on the Anti-Christ,” says Rovito, “perhaps it’s possible to use the consignment process to draw these works into a temporary relationship, which might in turn inspire collectors to build their collections in unexpected ways.”

Though disparate, these diverse items can create interesting pairings that tell new stories and paint broader pictures of the evolution of literature, making for truly unique collections.

Peggy Carouthers lives in North Carolina and is the editor of custom content at Journalistic Inc.