Vintage cricket books
Vintage cricket books
Books and scoresheets from a few pennies to 'six' figures...
Cricket can seem a mysterious business and the collecting of 'cricketiana' (as most collectors wouldn't call it) including cricket books, can seem so too.
Some things are more predictable than others. For example, if there's an auction of cricket books in England, they are likely to sell for more if the England & Wales team are at a point of high excitement rather than in the doldrums.
It's no surprise then that the record breaking price for a book, Samuel Britcher's A Complete List of All the Grand Matches of Cricket that have been played in the Years 1804 & 1805 sold in April 2005 in the run up to England's much anticipated 2005 Ashes series. (The book is apparently one of his many, though different names appear on the cover for reasons unknown.)
That book sold for 98,400 ($188,436), five times its estimate. Another book by Britcher (who was a scorer) went for 90,000 in the same sale, as did William Epps' Collection of all the Grand Matches of Cricket in England, published in1799.
All these books were from the collection of the late all-rounder, Hampshire captain and obsessive cricket collector E Desmond Eagar.
It isn't known how much he paid for them, but it's quite possible that it wasn't as much as you might expect. Many people dismiss old scorecards from the days of underarm bowling as unlikely to be of interest.
Of course, it helps that there are some very wealthy people with a specific interest in cricket. It's quite possible one of the above books is now displayed proudly in Tim Rice's house, for example.
On the other hand, it can still be possible to buy reasonably priced biographies of greats such as W G Grace - unless they're signed by that player, in which case the price shoots up.
As England have just won the Ashes, prices may be expected to have crept up again.
Some of the same principles apply to cricket books as any other kind: first editions are worth more and rarity is key. The 98,400 Britcher is the only copy known to be in existence - though that doesn't mean there isn't another in your attic.