Collectible books auction worth the long walk
A rare illustrated copy of Nelson Mandela’s prize-winning autobiography will go under the hammer in Cape Town
FOR THOSE sceptical about the merits of books as collectables, some of the lots at Stephan Welz & Co’s sale in Cape Town on Tuesday and Wednesday might just change their minds. The lots on offer are not from those once ubiquitous Time-Life collections nor Readers Digest Condensed Books.
One book, in particular, has an astounding value. But then it is about Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s respected former leader whose exemplary life has spawned enough memorabilia to virtually establish an industry.
Stephan Welz & Co has as Lot 56, Mandela’s book Long
Walk to Freedom – and it’s expected to fetch as much as R150 000.
This, however, is not the paperback millions have on their bookshelves.
It’s an illustrated version, printed by the Little Brown Company in the UK in 1996, with a print run of only 425 – and it’s number 390 that is on offer.
The De Luxe edition is quarter bound by hand in Wassa goatskin, with orange boards and gilt design and gilt-edged textblock. The black box case is lined with silk and, to further boost its value, the lot includes a signed portrait of Madiba, dated October 6 1996.
Lani Roux, Stephan Welz & Co’s books specialist, says this is an extremely rare edition of the great man’s prize-winning autobiography.
“The edition was limited to 425 but only 100 were sold in South Africa. It includes a laid-in commissioned portrait of Nelson Mandela, taken by Benny Gool, signed and personally dated by Madiba,” Roux says.
Gool is a South African photojournalist who chronicled the life of Mandela over three momentous decades. His archive is said to contain tens of thousands of images of Madiba.
The book to be auctioned is described by Stephan Welz & Co as “unread and in fine condition”.
There is only a slight scuff mark from a silk ribbon on the front of the spine.
Other books on offer at the sale with notable presale estimates include:
Thirteen Dumpy Books for Children by various authors which date back to the turn of the 19th century and include tales such as the
intriguing Mrs Turner’s Cautionary Stories (this was the ultra-moralistic Victorian era, after all). The illustrated book could sell for as much as R18 000.
A first edition of Anthony Burgess’ controversial A Clockwork Orange – a book that the South African government of the day opposed as much as it did Mandela back then. Priced in 1962 at 16 shillings, the book of the film that thousands of South Africans secretly watched, in 16mm format in private homes under the cover of darkness, is expected to sell for up to R30000. The Ship that Sailed to Mars by William Timlin should go for R22 000. This is the 1923 first edition of a fantasy adventure for children published in England in 1923 in an edition of only 2 000 copies. The book contains 48 colour plates, which alternate with 48 pages of Timlin’s own calligraphic text. It’s the story of an old man who has long dreamed of sailing to Mars “by way of the Moon and the more friendly planets”. Now young people plan to do this – on direct flight.
A first edition of good old PG Wodehouse’s Mike, printed in 1909. It’s the story of young Mike and his friends who “eschew cricket and indulge in all manner of high jinks and adventures”. Written long before Wodehouse created the world’s most famous valet, Jeeves, the story of Mike’s Victorian frivolity is expected to fetch up to R60 000.
Other iconic authors with books on auction next week include one by William Shakespeare, as well as children’s book authors Lewis Carroll and Beatrix Potter.
Last, there’s also a 1975 book, Some Afrikaners Photographed, by renowned photographer David Goldblatt.
The lot includes a signed portrait of Madiba taken by Benny Gool
Long Walk to Freedom – a de luxe illustrated version of the Mandela biography – could fetch up to R150 000 at the Stephan Welz & Co auction in Cape Town on Tuesday and Wednesday.