C. S. Lewis rare books and memorabilia

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wikicollecting

2015-06-26 10:53:09

C. S. Lewis rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to writer C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis (1898-1963). Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies. He is probably best known for his epic series, The Chronicles of Narnia, of which the first book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) is the most popular.

 

Brief History/biography

Born in Ireland, Lewis had a childhood fascination with anthropomorphic animals. Later he developed a growing enthralment with mythology and the occult, and later with ancient Scandinavian literature and the Icelandic sagas and Norse legends. His young writing focused heavily on these subjects, and there is a clear path of development from these teenage interests into the C. S. Lewis novels that millions world-wide know and love. After serving in World War I and experiencing trench warfare, Lewis returned to his studies and to writing. During and after University, Lewis was part of an eminent literary circle called ‘The Inklings’, which included the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien, among other literary scholars. The novels Lewis is best known for include the fantasy fiction Narnia books, considered classics of children’s literature, and the science fiction Space Trilogy. He is still widely read today.

Types of rare books and memorabilia

Books

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, first edition (1950) signed by the author, sold for £17,000 in October 2010.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, seven volumes, first editions with dust-jackets, sold for £5,000 in March 2006 and £7,000 in May 2010.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, first editions (1950) with dust-jackets, sold for £4,000 in October and November 2005, and £6,000 in June 2004.
  • The Silver Chair, first edition (1953) with dust-jacket, sold for £3,600 in April 2006.
  • The Horse and His Boy, first edition (1954), sold for £2,400 in November 2005.

Christie’s

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, first edition (1950) with dust-jacket, sold for $5,760 in December 2006, and $19,975 in April 2001.
  • The Horse and his Boy, first edition (1954) with dust-jacket, sold for £9,988 in April 2001.
  • Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia, first edition (1951) sold for $2,585 in April 2001.

Sothebys

  • The Last Battle. The Bodley Head (1956), first edition with dust-jacket, signed by the author. Sold for £4,200 in July 2007.
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950), first edition rebound, signed by the author, sold for £3,120 in July 2007.

Heritage Auctions

  • The Ransom Trilogy, first editions (1938, 1943, 1945), in dust-jackets, sold for $5,676.25 in April 2007.
  • That Hideous Strength first edition (1945), signed by Lewis, sold for $2,390 in October 2009.

Documents, Autographs etc

Bonhams

  • Autograph letter signed C. S. Lewis discussing Ray Bradbury, dated 1951, sold for $4,270 in April 2011.

Christie’s

  • An autograph letter signed, two autograph postcards signed, and a fragment of an autograph letter signed. Sold for £4,465 in November 2001.
  • A collection of unpublished correspondence between C. S. Lewis and his wife Joy, sold for £4,025 in April 1966.
  • Autograph letter from Lewis to Mr Pitman with copy of Lewis’s Broadcast Talks, sold for £2,280 in November 2006.

Guide for collectors

Lewis’s novels are some of the leading books sought by book collectors and are highly collectible. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the most collected of these works, being the most famous and popular. The Screwtape Letters is also extremely popular with collectors, and much more difficult to find in its original dust-jacket. His lesser known science fiction The Ransom Trilogy is a lovely collectible set, and again quite hard to find in good condition, all together, with original dust-jackets.

First editions of the books from The Chronicles of Narnia series are worth keeping together as a collection, however, individual volumes can also sell for several hundred or thousand. Those rare copies that are signed by Lewis are extremely sought after and valuable, much more so in the case of his more popular works like the Narnia books than his lesser known science fiction. The works are all much more valuable in their original publisher’s cloth and dust-jackets rather than rebound, particularly if the dust-jackets are well preserved.

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Ambrose Quinn

2017-05-13 17:01:04

I seem to have come across a signed C.S. Lewis book dating back to 1942, A Preface to Paradise Lost. It looks very much like his signature after searching through google. How could one be sure?!




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