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John le Carré's Our Game

Q. I have a copy of John le Carré's Our Game, published in London by Hodder & Stoughton in 1995. It has the full number sequence (10 to 1) on the copyright page. I understand only a small number of first printings were issued (1,000 to 2,000 copies) and that these were distributed to airports and the former British colonies. In addition, le Carré supposed rejected the dust jacket on this printing. Perusing Abebooks’ listings for this book, the vast majority of first editions for sale show the jacket with a figure walking through a door. The copy that I own has a dark slate gray jacket with three profiles in black. Is mine the original jacket for the book?—Arthur

A.Yes, the dust jacket with three profiles that you describe is the true first of le Carré's Our Game. Some sellers, however, “follow the flag” by insisting that the first regular British edition, with the new jacket design showing a figure walking through the door, is the true first. However, this argument sounds like sales spin to me. And yes, the book had a small print run designed for export and which primarily ended up in airports.

Our Game by John le Carré

Peter Harrington has an inscribed copy with this wonderful line “P. S. This foul jacket will be replaced for the UK edn in May!”—which confirms that le Carré did indeed hate the first jacket and that the export edition, with the silhouettes, is the one he rejected.

This edition with the rejected jacket is now more valuable than the regular UK edition; although prices online vary wildly, based on the sellers knowledge of the edition. Funny enough, I actually prefer the rejected cover to the one with a man walking through a door.

—Andrew Cornell,, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Mark Twain's Tom SawyerEditor’s Note: “Following the flag” is a book-collecting fashion that favors the first edition issued in the author’s home country. In the case of John le Carré, who is British, that would mean the books issued for the United Kingdom, regardless of which issue came out first in a strictly chronological sense. Other collectors prefer the very first edition, wherever that may be. For example, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was first published in London and then in Hartford, Connecticut. Despite this fact, collectors until very recently clearly preferred the American first edition to the British (although this may be changing).


Replacing Plates with Reproductions

Q. I have a copy of John Ogilby’s Homer His Illiads Translated, dated 1660. When I bought it, all the plates had been removed, but it was otherwise intact. I have rebound and rebacked it with its original boards. I have also obtained electronic copies of the plates. Will the presence of facsimile plates add any value to the book such as it is in its incomplete condition?—Ray

A. It will add somewhat to the value, but not much. It’s still a defective copy missing all its plates.
—Franklin V. Spellman, Krown & Spellman, Booksellers, Culver City, CA, U.S.A.

Editor’s Note: The 1660 edition of the Iliad is scarce. A copy with all of the illustrations sold at auction in 2006 for about $2,250.


Signed Sandy Koufax First Edition

Q. I have a first edition (1966) of Sandy Koufax by Sandy Koufax and Ed Linn. It is signed by Koufax and is in good condition. Can you estimate its worth?—Brad

A. As with all books, the value depends a lot on condition. If the jacket is pretty clean, without a lot of fading to the spine or the cover, and it is not torn or creased, that will increase the relative value of the item.

KoufaxThere has been an explosion of forged or altered signatures in the world of sports memorabilia in the last several years, so before a value can be assigned, the signature will need to be authenticated.

If the signature is authentic, the value will depend on whether Koufax inscribed the book to anyone in particular or if he just signed his name with a generic greeting like “Best wishes.” If he inscribed the book to someone else who is famous or to a teammate, that would increase the value of the book.

AbeBooks sellers currently have first editions of this book signed by the Hall of Fame pitcher for $80 and $225, depending on condition. Koufax doesn't sign that much these days which is to the good (in terms of prices), but on the other hand, I don't think there is that much demand for his signed material, at least not books.

—George Baker, Sawtooth Books, Boise, ID, U.S.A.

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