Auctions | April 15, 2014

First Edition of <i>Casino Royale</i> Sells for $40,000

A first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, (1953) thrilled bidders, selling for £24,180 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale of Modern Literature on Friday 11th April, held at their saleroom in London’s Mayfair.

The first book in the 007 series, Casino Royale (1953) introduced Fleming’s renowned James Bond franchise to the world. Since it was first published on 13th April 1953 the book had been adapted for film three times, and in 2006 it became the 21st film in the Eon Productions film series of the Bond novels, and the film that introduced Daniel Craig as the eighth actor to play the fictional MI6 agent.

Written by Fleming in Jamaica, the book received stellar reviews and the first UK print run sold out in under a month. The dust jacket was designed by Fleming himself and the initial hardcover release was priced at 10s, 6d a copy.  [Lot 48] This rare first edition Casino Royale is in exceptional condition, and was the first of a complete collection of Fleming’s 007 novels to be offered during the sale. Also from the collection, a first edition of Live and Let Die, (1954), sold for £8,060, [Lot 49] and a first edition of Moonraker, (1955) sold for £5,952. [Lot 51]

Another rare first edition, this time of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again (1937) sold for an exceptional £18,600. The classic children’s fantasy novel has been celebrated by readers for many generations, and has never been out of print. First published in 1937, Tolkien’s letters, and the records kept by his publishers, confirm that he was very involved with the design of the book. His original full-colour drawings for the dust jacket were redrawn by him several times, removing colours until just four remained. In a bid to control costs, the UK publishers finally removed the red from the sun, leaving just black, green and blue ink to be printed on the white paper. [Lot 139]

A copy of Moliere L'Avare (1918), owned by acclaimed novelist, playwright, poet and theatre director Samual Beckett, sold for £8,060. Complete with Beckett’s ink ownership inscription to endpaper, and his annotations and notes to margins, the book is an early example of Beckett's study of French language as well as his growing understanding of one of the most important French playwrights. The notes largely cover translations of difficult words or phrases, although he highlights a particular exchange as being "A favourite trick with M." Beckett was awarded an honorary degree by Trinity College in 1956.

It is likely that Beckett sold his student books, post-graduation, to Fred Hanna's bookshop, where this was purchased some 25 years later by Daniel Rogers, whose family consigned the book for sale. Daniel Rogers attended Trinity College first as a student, then a junior lecturer, before moving to Durham University. [Lot 6]

An almost complete collection of the works of P.G. Wodehouse garnered much pre-sale interest from Wodehouse enthusiasts.  Lots 150-208 included an extremely rare first edition of the author’s first adult novel, Love Among the Chickens (1906). In 1921 Woodhouse re-wrote the first five chapters to change the narrative from the third to the first person, making this first edition extremely sought after. The book sold for £4,712. [Lot 157]

Also from the Wodehouse collection, titles that are rarely seen in their dust-jackets included a copy of The Inimitable Jeeves (1923), which sold for £2,356 [Lot 170], and Carry On, Jeeves (1925)which sold for £1,364. [Lot 173]

The auction was held at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions' London saleroom in the heart of Mayfair on Friday 11th April. The catalogue and full results from the sale can be found online at


Click here to view a fully illustrated online catalogue.

Click here to view a pdf of the sale catalogue.