October 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Collecting Clancy

Tom Clancy passed away yesterday in Baltimore at age 66. At the time of death, Clancy had 100 million copies of his books in print around the world and had hit the number one spot on the New York Times Best Seller list seventeen times. Clancy's enormously successful career launched in 1984 with the publication of The Hunt of Red October. Clancy published 25 fiction and nonfiction books - primarily in his own invented genre of "techno-thrillers - throughout the rest of his life. His stories also inspired several spin-off book series and even launched some video games.

So, how do you go about collecting Clancy?

The highlight of any Clancy collection is the first edition, first printing of The Hunt for Red October. Clancy submitted the manuscript to the Naval Institute Press, publishing arm of the U. S. Naval Institute, while he was working as an insurance salesman in Maryland. An editor at the Press, Deborah Grovesnor, was smitten with the manuscript, which she thought could potentially become a big bestseller. Grovesnor asked Clancy to trim some of the technological details and the press offered him $5,000 to acquire the manuscript. Published in 1984, The Hunt for Red October went on to become the bestselling book of the decade. The first edition, first printing of The Hunt for Red October issued in its white dust jacket had a much smaller print run than future Clancy novels and commands about $300 and up on the open market.

Clancy's next books were published by G. P. Putnam. The publisher issued signed, limited editions with smaller print runs of many Clancy titles to feed the collector's market. The titles that I know about --with the caveat that there could be more-- are:

Clear and Present Danger (1989), 250 copies
The Sum of All Fears (1991), 600 copies
Submarine (1993), 300 copies
Debt of Honor (1994), 450 copies
Armored Cav (1994) 150 copies
Rainbow Six (1998) 675 copies
The Bear and the Dragon (2000) 425 copies
Red Rabbit (2002), 550 copies
Teeth of the Tiger (2003) 300 copies

These signed, limited editions can be purchased in the $100 - $300 range per title.

So, while Clancy is known for the sheer quantity of his work, quality reproductions of many of his titles also exist and are ripe pickings for the budding Clancy collector.

[Image from Wikpedia]