Ulysses first edition sets record price
To buy a rare James Joyce, or to buy a very nice house. It’s the kind of delemia some people face. Yesterday at the Olympia Antiquarian Book Fair in London someone purchased a copy of the most collectible book from the 20th century, Ulysses by James Joyce. Or more exactly a signed, first edition which was limited to 100 copies and printed on Dutch handmade paper.
As reported by The Guardian the novel sold for £275,000 (about $440,000), the highest price on record for a 20th century first edition.
This is a fine example of how condition and scarcity are everything in book collecting. If you look on AbeBooks there are other Ulysses first editions for sale for a fraction of the price, somewhere around $50,000 would net you a nice copy. But not that won’t get you this edition with its Dutch handmade paper and shorter print run.
The extra 400 affords the shorter print run on the higher quality paper and a virtually untouched copy – it was only opened only once (just to the racy bit at the end), and was kept out of the light in its original box. Pom Harrington described the colour as:
“The colour is amazing – this lovely Aegean Sea, Greek flag blue which would normally have darkened into a more dirty blue but because it has been in a box it is a complete thing of beauty,”