Casino Royale 1953

Now pay attention, 007. There’s a new message from ‘M’. Eyes only. Passed on from Station ‘S’ in Lincolnshire. Top priority. Message reads: An account of your first operation fetched high price. Stop. Telephone bid successful. Stop. Please be advised further editions doubled their estimates. Stop. Regards. Tanner, on behalf of Sir Miles. Ends.

Ian Fleming’s first James Bond adventure Casino Royale (1953) has become the equivalent of Auric Goldfinger’s gold bars if a recent auction in Stamford is anything to go by. It is well-known among hardback book collectors that all early editions of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels have become highly sought-after in recent years, and this was demonstrated yet again at an exciting local auction held in Stamford in Lincolnshire earlier this month.

Bateman’s Auctioneers, in Ryhall Road, Stamford, auctioned a collection of James Bond books and memorabilia, a collection amassed over a 40-year period by dedicated collector Brian Young.

The wide-ranging collection contained everything one would expect in a serious 007 collection, ranging from models, film posters and books to even a pair of shoes that once belonged to the late Sir Roger Moore.

But what created the most interest and some frenzied bidding was the set of Bond novels, with an almost complete set of the 14 Fleming original editions on offer. A first edition, second impression copy of Casino Royale proved to be the book most in demand. When it was first published in the UK as a hardback in April, 1953, Fleming’s first 007 adventure sold out of its first print run within a month, much to the surprise but evident delight of Bond’s creator. Given this, publisher Jonathan Cape rushed to print a second impression, releasing it quickly in May, 1953. It was a copy of this edition, in good condition, complete with its original dust-jacket (and non price-clipped) which sold at the Bateman’s Auction for £3,300, against its initial estimate of £500-£800. The winning bid was made by telephone.

Some other Fleming titles from Mr. Young’s unique collection also sold well, more than doubling their original estimates: Fleming’s second Bond novel Live and Let Die, for example, made £440, and the fifth 007 thriller From RussiaWith Love reached £520. Interestingly, a full set of John Gardner Bond novels, against an initial estimate of £80 to £120, made a very healthy total of £1,100, selling online. Although Kingsley Amis was able to pen a post-Fleming Bond novel (Colonel Sun), John Gardner, of course, was the first author to be allowed to create a series of new James Bond adventures, which commenced in 1981 with Licence Renewed, and ended in 1996 with Cold.

All in all, the sale of Mr. Young’s Bond collection reached a very satisfying total of £12,500, against an initial estimate of £6,500-£9,500, with an estimated 83% of the lots selling. It all goes to show that James Bond still retains a midas touch.

Did You Know?

Stamford in Lincolnshire is just a few miles north of the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough, which was used for location shooting for Roger Moore’s Octopussy in 1982 and Pierce Brosnan’s Goldeneye in 1995.

Author John Gardner with Ian Fleming portrait in 1981