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Super Sets for your Bookshelves


Although a full bookshelf is always easy on the eye, a shelf filled with a complete set or collection can be stunning. Below are some of the most eye-catching examples of sets available on AbeBooks. There’s fiction, politics, art. children’s books, Penguins and spies.

A complete set of James Bond first editions: Published by Jonathan Cape between 1953 and 1966, Ian Fleming produced 14 Bond books. The publisher didn’t expect the first book, Casino Royale, to sell and printed less than 5,000 copies. Demand for 007 first editions is high and this set costs a whopping $100,000. They’d look stunning on anyone’s shelf – an instant talking point.

A complete set of Pan James Bond paperbacks: Don’t despair if you can’t afford the true 007 first editions, these Pan first editions are $99,000 cheaper. Completely different artwork, Bond is blonde on the front of Casino Royale.

A complete set of Swallows and Amazons books: For sheer coordinated beauty on a shelf, Arthur Ransome’s children’s books cannot be beaten. These are a mixture of editions and cost $570. Set in the Lake District, these classic stories involve a lot of messing about in boats. The first two books feature illustrations by Clifford Webb.

The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell: Four novels (a tetralogy) published by Faber & Faber between 1957 and 1960. The first three books describe three different perspectives on a single set of events and characters in Egypt. Look at the hand-prints on the spines. $2,750 for these first editions.

The Dance to the Music of Time series by Anthony Powell: Imagine having these on your shelves? Twelve novels published between 1951 and 1973. These are first editions and priced at $8,700. Inspired by a painting by Nicolas Poussin, the series, often comic, depicts English culture, manners and society.

Complete set of Strand Magazines featuring Sherlock Holmes: You are looking at literary history. The 56 Holmes stories and the two novels were first published in the Strand Magazine. Fragile and scarce, this set is priced at $85,000.

The lithographs of Marc Chagall: Complete in six volumes. This is the French language edition published between 1960 and 1986. The price is $6,500.


A complete set of Narnia first editions: Look at the spines. So many old friends from Jewel the Unicorn to Mr Tumnus. Published by Geoffrey Bles between 1950 and 1956 with memorable illustrations by Pauline Baynes. Children’s books take a beating usually – these are in near fine condition. $48,500.

A set of Churchill’s wartime speeches: Yes, politics can be colorful, especially when Winston Churchill is involved. A full set of seven British first editions, containing some of the most powerful words ever uttered by the politician, whose books remain highly collectible. $3,000.

A complete set of Andrew Lang’s fairy books: All first editions. Each one was named with a color, starting with blue and ending with lilac. They contain 798 stories of folklore, which Lang collected thanks to a lifelong passion for traditional storytelling. They were immensely popular and the artistic bindings definitely helped. This stunning set is priced at $16,000.

The first 10 Penguins: These are actually facsimiles. A complete set of original editions would a decent sum. This is the 50th anniversary box set from 1985. A bargain at $100.

The works of Picasso in 33 volumes: Known simply as the Zervos after the editor, this is the most trusted reference source for Pablo Picasso’s art. More than 6,000 pages with over 16,000 black-and-white images. $22,500.

Set of 11 English classics: Published in 1982 by Knopf with bindings that coordinate to create a Union Jack on your bookshelf. Set includes 1984, Wuthering Heights, Oliver Twist, The Moonstone, and Vanity Fair. A total bargain at $180.

Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy: You only need to glance at the spines to know it’s a book by Peake – the British illustrator and author who has a cult following. These are first editions and priced at $1,765.

Works of Roosevelt: 20 volumes from 1926/1927 published, by Scribner’s, and still in the original shipping crate, addressed to a person in Massachusetts. Never read. $2,200.

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