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Ulysses most valuable edition

Old is gold. James Joyce's Ulysses has been named the most valuable 20th century first-edition novel by Book & Collector magazine following a survey of dealers, although Virginia Wolfe had declared that she never read such "tosh".

india Updated: Jan 20, 2006 02:34 IST
Vijay Dutt

Old is gold. James Joyce's Ulysses has been named the most valuable 20th century first-edition novel by Book & Collector magazine following a survey of dealers, although Virginia Wolfe had declared that she never read such "tosh".

The magazine has put a value of £100,000 on signed first editions of the book. Shakespeare & Co first published it in 1922. It ran to 740 pages but only 1,000 copies were printed and Joyce signed 100 of them. A signed copy of Ulysses’s first edition fetched £160,000 at Sotheby's in New York in 2004.

Jonathan Scott, editor of the magazine, recalled that the copy was in excellent condition and therefore he never expected another copy could come out in a similar condition. The reason for its high value, he said, was because its bindings were fragile and it was a literary landmark.

In second place come editions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hounds Of Baskervilles, complete with rare dustjacket, at £80,000. Others in the top 10 include The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and the Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Among children's books, the first edition of Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone can fetch up to £15,000 if it is in mint condition. The edition was priced at £10.99 in 1997 when it was first published.

The edition can be identified by a printer's number at the very beginning of the book, which should end in the number one.

Scott said that although the J K Rowling’s Potter tale was placed only 28th on the list of most valuable books, it was "amazingly high for such a young book".

The most valuable 20th century children's book was named The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (£50,000).

Scott explained the criteria for the list. He said the parameters were first editions that a reader might, in theory at least, "have a slim chance of owning or finding it in their loft".

One of the rarest titles in the list is D H Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom valued at £60,000. There were only eight copies of the first edition and only six are known to be in existence.

First Published: Jan 20, 2006 02:18 IST