September 28, 2008

Book Survives the Attention of Small Hands

A QUITE superb first edition copy of Grimm's Fairy Tales is available today at Morrab Book Fair in Penzance. Considering these are children's books, and probably handled by them, makes this even more impressive. Having 40 tipped-in colour plates by the incomparable Arthur Rackham, it is available at this delightful annual event for pounds450, and is almost 100 years old, as it was published in 1909.

The irrepressible Jennings was the brainchild of Anthony Buckeridge, who died recently in his 90s, but his works live on in the form of his books, many of which are highly desirable because of the smaller print runs of the late 60s and 70s.

Consequently two first editions - Trust Jennings (1969) and The Jennings Report (1970) - are bound to find favour with bibliophiles at pounds38 and pounds90 respectively.

Most of Ernest Hemingway's first editions were published in the USA, but an exception is the first novel he wrote after a 10-year break following publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1940.

The true first edition of Across the River and into the Trees was published by Jonathan Cape in 1950, just a few days before the US edition, and here costs pounds190. It is to be found beside The Old Man and the Sea, the first UK edition that came out in 1952 on September 8, exactly the day it appeared across the Pond. Price pounds60.

Books of local interest are always popular, and a two-volume first edition set The Life of Sir Humphry Davy of 1836, written by his brother, John Davy MD is in excellent order when asking pounds250. One of the most famous sons of Penzance Sir Humphry saved countless lives in mines all over the world, including in the nearby Levant Mine that runs under the sea at Land's End, when he invented the Miners' Safety Lamp.

So much of Cornwall's history is tied up with mining and its mineral wealth, and there are innumerable volumes on the subject. One of the most thorough, however, is Margaret Reeks' The Royal School of Mines Register of Old Students 1851-1920 & History of the Royal School of Mines, that can be bought here for pounds45.

A more fanciful approach to the county is The Mermaid of Zennor & Other Cornish Tales by Eileen Molony at pounds18, in its original dust wrapper, with illustrations by Maise Meiklejohn.

A scarce copy of Cyril Noall's 1970 book Levant, complete with dust wrapper, is pounds35 at the fair, and a tidy first edition of local author Colin Wilson's first novel, Ritual in the Dark, is pounds15 on the same stand.

Compilers of journals and handwritten memoirs often hide much wonderful information, collated and presented together. A great deal of their attraction lies in their uniqueness, but the work of Lt E W Sykes, a serving officer aboard HMS Achilles, holds more than most as the last entry is dated August 7, 1939 - a few days before the outbreak of war.

There are two particularly interesting photographs in this volume; one showing an accident with a Swordfish plane upended in the sea and a second of its later rescue. A fascinating work for a modest pounds85.

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