I’m a second-hand bookseller since Friday and of all of the excitement of selling your first book (it was a biography of one of my favourite greek philosophers) could not prepare me for the joy I felt when a gentleman dropped off a selection of rare books that first afternoon.
When I was unpacking the books this edition
of Watership Down by Richard Adams instantly caught my attention. In a moment of excitement, I instantly recognised the cover of the first US edition of this beloved classic.
I read this book many times since my childhood and it never fails to take me to a different wold.
On the first edition cover it states:
“Watership Down is a picaresque saga of the maverick band who set out, against all odds, on a quest for a new home, a better society. How they succeed in an epic adventure and a compelling contemporary odyssey of leadership found and leadership lost.
The hero’s of this tale are animals – wild rabbits. They behaviour is constant with the law of nature, yet each is endowed with a blood-and-gut personality that is unforgettable. The full-bodied characterisation and compelling plot fuse, transcending the animal world and illuminating man’s great humanity – and terrible inhumanity. The setting is the rolling hills and meadows of England. The time is now – or tomorrow – or always.”
To add to the developing theme of my first day just an hour before I had sold a paperback of the book to a father who spotted it in the recommendation section on his way to the till and exclaimed excitedly “Ah! I always wanted to read that!”
To make a long story short, it turned out to be the fifth print of the first edition and therefore not as valuable as a “true” first edition. The dust jacket was not in perfect condition but still, I had only ever seen one of them in pictures and I was attached. So instead of selling this edition, it will join my private collection.
This edition is still on display in the shop, so come in and have a look. Or if you are now intrerested in reading Watership Down I still have a paperback edition in the shop.
If you are interested in the art of identifying and evaluating first editions watch this space, as I’m currently preparing a little guide for you.
So all in all, my first day was more than I could have imagined.