Friday, June 18, 2010

A shelf of firsts

by Rachel
Reading Ralph Gardner Jr’s Wall Street Journal article on first editions brought back a memory of when I was younger. I remember my Grandfather’s office being crowded by shelves of antiques, souvenirs from abroad, and of course – books! There was a particular bookshelf filled with random books on world history, genealogy, and sports (in fact, there were too many books on cricket for my liking. No one really needs to know so much about that sport, do they?). In a smaller bookcase in the corner of the room, there was a shelf dedicated to first editions. And of course, because my Grandfather treasured these books, they were kept on the highest shelf where grandchildren were unable to reach!

I don’t own any first editions, but because of my Grandfather’s love of them, I’m always interested to know the titles people own, and whether or not they went out of their way to find them, or if the books were simply passed down through the years.

So, if you’re big on first editions, care to share what titles you own and how you acquired them? If not, do you have a first edition title you’d pay a high price for?


  1. We have a few. Mostly Nevil Shute. And yes, we bought them on purpose. We also have one from my mentor, John Rowe Townsend and my friend Arthur Slade's Govenor's Award Winning novel DUST, which he signed for us. At one time we were into it, but when we moved countries, we got rid of most of them. I like books I can read without worry, so I have a complete paperback collection of Nevil Shute's books too.

  2. We have a gazillion books (figuratively speaking), but I have no idea how many are first editions. If I had to guess, maybe one or two. I want books I love on my shelves, that's what gives them value as far as I'm concerned.

  3. I have 8 first edition OZ books. I love them. I love the way they smell. I inherited them from my grandfather, who bought them for his sons, but they didn't stay in love with them after they grew up and joined the army and stuff.

    (Or maybe they did love them, but they were afraid the other army guys would laugh at them.)

    Anyway, since I was the first grandchild (and a girl) I got them.

    I love my Kindle. I really do. But sometimes I miss the smell of my old books.

  4. My great aunt in England would send my mother books when she was a youngster in the early 1900s, and then when my brothers and I came along, more books were sent. My favourite book from her was George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin, complete with tissue covered illustration plates. Although it wasn't a first edition, it was published in 1888 in hardcover and in excellent condition.

  5. Susan Petrone19/6/10 9:50 PM

    Most of my first editions are 20th century American authors (because that's all I can afford). At this point, they're mostly my favorites. To mention just a handful--several Vonneguts, Steinbeck's Sweet Thursday, Ferber's Giant, Doctorow's Ragtime, Stegner's Angle of Repose, Love Medicine (which Louise Erdrich signed for me last year at the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards).