May 28, 2013

Finest Hour 145, Winter 2009-10

Page 47

Book Collecting “Duly Inscribed…”

Max E. Hertwig

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I have a first American edition of Churchill’s London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (New York: Longmans Green, 1900). On the inside cover is a signed label. Is this original, or a label printed in quantities? —L.C., QUEBEC, CANADA

We have not encountered the words “duly Inscribed” in a Churchill inscription before, but the signature looks authentic, and the ink suitably aged. However, since this is a on a pasted-in card, it seems likely that he signed the card in advance, perhaps not knowing how the recipient would use it. Assuming it is written in ink and not printed (like the common facsimile holograph thank-you notes from the 1940s), it would seem one of a kind.

The pen had a broader nib than the ones Churchill favored, but it might have belonged to someone who handed it to him to inscribe the label. All in all, we think it’s Churchill’s writing, but from a later date. In 1900 his signature was less expansive than it became in later years, and this looks more like post-1930.

Inscribed first editions with the inscriptions on a separate card or sheet pasted in are not, of course, as valuable as books the author has personally inscribed. Still, inscribed copies of

Official Biography up toVol. V

Hillsdale College has reached Volume V and its hitherto rare companion volumes in its reprint of Sir Martin Gilbert’s official biography! Not only are these books affordable (biographic volumes $45, companions $35) but you can buy all eight biographics for $36 each and all twenty (eventually) companions for $28 each, by subscription.

Better yet, if you subscribe for all thirty volumes, you get the biographic volumes for $31.50 and the companions for $24.50. That includes the three 1500-page companions to Volume V, first editions of which have been trading for up to $1000 each.

How can you not afford these books? Order from Hillsdale’s website or telephone tollfree (800) 437-2268.

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