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£2.5m James Bond Book Collection for sale at Masterpiece London including signed books to Churchill and Kennedy

20 June, 2019

Peter Harrington, the UK’s largest rare bookseller, this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, and is thrilled to offer for sale an exceptional collection of Ian Fleming material for £2.5m, which it will be exhibiting at this year’s Masterpiece Art Fair in London. It is the most significant Fleming Collection to ever appear on the market and contains inscribed first editions of every James Bond book published in the author’s lifetime.

Ian Fleming Peter Harrington collection Masterpiece Art Fair sale

The exceptional collection features 81 rare first editions, every lifetime edition of the Bond books signed by the author, together with manuscripts, pre-publication proofs, advance copies, related correspondence and ephemera, also first editions of all Fleming’s non-fiction books, and a selection of books from his library, ranging from a Boy’s Own Annual given to him as a 10-year-old boy, to Raymond Chandler’s last novel inscribed for him by the author

It is remarkably rare to see a whole collection like this for sale, as they are usually broken up, and it will appeal to someone looking to acquire a complete and exceptional Fleming collection all in one go. This collection is the highest valued Peter Harrington has ever offered for sale. The 81 items come from a New York collector, who has been assembling the collection for over 30 years and it is offered for sale as a collection only for £2.5m (approx $3.1m / €2.8m).

ian fleming to james bond inscription

Amongst the books with inscriptions are some sensational associations:
- An omnibus edition of Casino Royale, From Russia With Love and Dr No inscribed to James Bond;
- Live and Let Die inscribed to Winston Churchill;
- The Spy Who Loved Me inscribed to Robert Kennedy;
- Moonraker inscribed to Raymond Chandler;
- From Russia with Love bearing a personal inscription from Fleming to his wife.

The Collection also includes a number of manuscripts, pre-publication proofs, advance copies and ephemera, and a number of books from Fleming’s personal library. These include a notebook kept by Fleming on a trip to Japan, from which selected passages appear in You Only Live Twice, books from his childhood and a copy of Raymond Chandler’s last novel inscribed to Fleming by the author.

An indication of the price trend of James Bond first editions can be seen with a particularly fine copy of Casino Royale which Peter Harrington have been lucky enough to sell four times in the past few years: for £22,000 in 2002; £26,000 in 2006; £30,000 in 2008; and in 2013, for £50,000.

Pom Harrington owner of Peter Harrington Rare Books says: “The significance of this collection cannot be overstated. From typescripts which document Fleming’s creative process, to inscriptions which provide an insight into his personal life, few collections tell such a complete story about an author. We are extremely excited to be able to present it at this year’s Masterpiece fair, alongside a selection of other carefully chosen items.”

The Masterpiece Art Fair in London takes place in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea from Thursday 27th June until Wednesday 3rd July and is open daily from 11am until 7pm on Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June and until 9pm on all other days. The Preview Day is on Wednesday 26th June.

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Some highlights of the collection:

Gilt-Edged Bonds Inscribed to James Bond

Gilt Edged Ian Fleming inscribed

A presentation copy of Gilt-Edged Bonds (1961), the first Omnibus edition of Casino Royale, From Russia With Love and Dr No, inscribed by Ian Fleming to a person who shared his name with Fleming’s hero: “To James Bond from Ian Fleming”.

Live and Let Die (1954) Inscribed to Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill Ian Fleming inscription live let die

A superb presentation first edition, inscribed by Ian Fleming to Winston Churchill: “To Sir Winston Churchill, from whom I stole words! From the author. 1954”. The inscription refers to the Churchill quote regarding the secret services that is used on the front flap of the dust jacket, taken from his Thoughts and Adventures.

Live Let Die Winston Churchill inscription Ian Fleming James Bond

Since his boyhood, Ian Fleming was a great admirer of Winston Churchill. His father, Valentine Fleming, served in Churchill’s old regiment during the First World War. When Valentine was killed Churchill wrote an appreciation for him in The Times which Ian Fleming framed and hung in his various homes throughout his life. Churchill gets a passing reference in From Russia, With Love, where Bond's housekeeper refuses to call anyone "sir" save for the King and Winston Churchill.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1962) Inscribed to Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy Ian Fleming inscription spy who loved me

A first edition, presentation copy inscribed by Ian Fleming to Robert Kennedy “to [Herr?] Robert Kennedy from [Herr?] Ian Fleming”. Fleming first met Robert Kennedy's brother, the future president John F. Kennedy, in Washington in March 1960. Fleming had dinner with John F. Kennedy, and their discussions on the Cuban threat interested John, who was already a fan of James Bond. Through John, Fleming became acquainted with Robert, and he sent inscribed copies of his books to both Robert and John and to their sister Eunice Shriver. John F. Kennedy later told Life Magazine of his fondness for James Bond, which was enthusiastically quoted on the dust jacket of the US edition of the Spy Who Loved Me, a major boost for Bond’s popularity in America.

Ian Fleming Spy Who Loved Me Kennedy

On 20 June 1962, Ian Fleming wrote to Robert Kennedy (then Attorney General) “I am delighted to take this opportunity to thank Kennedys everywhere for the electric effect their commendation has had on my sales in America.”

Moonraker (1955) Inscribed to Raymond Chandler and containing Chandler’s notes

Moonraker Ian Fleming Chandler inscribed sale collection

An outstanding association first edition, inscribed by Ian Fleming to the novelist Raymond Chandler “To Field Marshall Chandler from Private Ian Fleming 1955”. Despite the deferential inscription, Fleming’s homage to the writer he admired so greatly, this did not prevent Chandler from reading the book with a critical eye. On the first page of text, Chandler notes in the margin that the Colt Detective Special mentioned in the text has a "2 1/2 barrel" (p. 9). He sums up the first chapter as "All Padding" (p. 18), and a description of Bond's day on p. 15 as "Bad". He has added about 24 words in manuscript on the rear flap of the jacket. Chandler did review the book encouragingly in the Sunday Times though.

Moonraker chandler inscription

The inscription is expressive of the remarkable friendship which grew up between the two masters of the thriller, creators of two of the century’s most memorable fictional characters, James Bond and Philip Marlowe. Fleming had long admired Chandler’s work before their first meeting over a dinner in London in May 1955, shortly after the publication of Moonraker, and with Diamonds are Forever completed. Fleming treated him with deference and the two got on well together. Fleming inscribed Moonraker to Chandler in 1955, possibly at this meeting.

This meeting was of enormous consequence to Fleming's literary career as in March 1955 after completing the manuscript of Diamonds Are Forever, Fleming seemed to have had enough of James Bond. However, Chandler encouraged Fleming, praising the second Bond novel Live and Let Die, and writing a testimonial about the book for Fleming's publishers. Chandler's approval seemed to make Fleming quickly decide that his next book, instead of finishing Bond off for good, would go to the opposite extreme. It would be different from any other book he had written, it would have depth and seriousness. Consequently, it can be affirmed that Chandler transformed Moonraker from among the last Bond books to the third of fourteen; Peter Harrington feel that few conceivable copies could be more desirable.

From Russia with Love Inscribed to Fleming’s Wife Ann (1957)

Ian Fleming Annie Charteris inscription From Russia With Love James Bond

A first edition, inscribed by Fleming to his wife Ann Charteris, “To Annie, with love and lashes, Ian”, the lashes referring to their sexual preferences.

ian fleming annie charteris inscription

Archive for the dust jacket of "For Your Eyes Only" by Richard Chopping (1959 – 1960)

A series of twenty-two autograph and typed letters signed and sent between Ian Fleming, Michael Howard, his agent, and Fleming’s dust-jacket artist of choice, Richard Chopping, documenting the conception and creation of Chopping’s jacket design for Fleming’s For Your Eyes Only. The collection contains a number of drafts and colour palettes for the dust jacket, as well as a final sketch and is housed in a custom-made blue cloth folder.

You Only Live Twice: Manuscript Notebook (1962)

Fleming’s fascinating small notebook kept while jaunting around Japan in 1962 with Dick Hughes, containing travelogue impressions, hotel and restaurant addresses, schedules, linguistic notes (Moshimoh - hello!), philosophical responses (“[Drawing of a Yin-Yang symbol] Only the good can be bad - only the believer can blaspheme - only the black can be white.”), and most importantly several long passages that he would later incorporate almost verbatim into You Only Live Twice (1964).

The final typescript of Diamonds Are Forever, with Fleming's revisions (1965-6)

Ian Fleming's 277 page revised typescript of Diamonds are Forever, with numerous autograph additions. The typescript is peppered throughout with tweaks, written in Fleming's characteristic blue ballpoint. Many tighten the plot, while some are more minor: a telephone number, for example, gets altered from Wisconsin 9.00456 to Wisconsin 7.3697.

Others add vigour to the prose: when Bond checks himself into the Hotel Astor, Fleming originally wrote "in front of an elderly woman"; but changed it to "before a hatchet-faced woman with a bosom like a sandbag". On page 88, "too many expense-account customers" becomes "too much expense-account aristocracy". While most pages contain one or two alterations, more substantial additions appear in eight places.

Chapter 17 was originally called "Bond Forces the Race" but becomes "Thanks for the Ride". Every now and then the nagging voice of the publisher's reader can be heard, protesting at one point "but surely the world's diamond centre is Amsterdam?" This final draft was typed by Fleming's secretary Ulrica Knowles.

Ian Fleming’s copy of The Boy's Own Annual (1918)

Ian Fleming boy's own manual mama 1918

This copy of the Boy’s Own Annual was published just before the end of the Great War and was given to Ian Fleming, when he was a ten-year-old boy, just after the war ended, by his mother, with the inscription, “Ian, from Mama, Christmas 1918”. Clearly this book, full of stories of adventure and empire, was important to Fleming, and in later years he affixed to it a photograph of himself in naval uniform.

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To view the full list of items in the Fleming Collection click here.

This amazing collection will be available at Masterpiece Art Fair at the Royal Hospital in Chelsea from Thursday 27th June until Wednesday 3rd July and is open daily from 11am until 7pm on Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June and until 9pm on all other days. The Preview Day is on Wednesday 26th June.

Visit Peter Harrington's website for more interesting Ian Fleming offerings, or the Masterpiece Art Fair website for more information.


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