Midhurst collector set to sell unique first editions

Clive Hirschhorn and his collection
Clive Hirschhorn and his collection

A THEATRE critic who has accumulated one of the world’s finest collections of rare first-edition books is expecting to sell it for an estimated £1 million at auction today.

Clive Hirschhorn, 72, from Midhurst, has amassed a pristine library of around 500 well-known books.

Mr Hirschhorn, long-standing film and theatre critic, magazine editor and author, started amassing the books in the mid 1980s after reading an article about the value of first edition books on a bus.

It wasn’t until 1984 that he was ‘infected’ as he puts it, by the first edition ‘bug’, specialising in modern firsts.

“After that it was like a virus or infection that was in my blood. I couldn’t pass a second-hand bookshop without going in to look for first editions,” said Mr Hirschhorn.

“The condition of the dust-jacket is everything. So I kept them on shelves in my bedroom well out of the sunlight.

“I never read any of the first editions. As I used to say, they were for show, not for blow.

“Any mark or tear on the jacket would take hundreds or thousands off the value.

“It is quite extraordinary just how much in value some of them have gone up by.”

Highlights include Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene, which has a ‘near fine dust jacket’ and is expected to sell for around £60,000, The Maltese Falcon which could take upwards of £35,000 and Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, valued at £25,000.

Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel Casino Royale, still with a first-issue dust-jacket, is valued at £15,000.

Mr Hirschhorn managed to get a number of his books signed by the authors, with Stephen King writing ‘shine on’ in the front of a first edition copy of The Shining.

Rupert Powell, deputy chairman of auctioneers Bloomsbury of London, said: “This is one of the most important private collections of modern first editions to come on to the market in the past 10 years.”

One of Mr Hirschhorn’s smartest investments was paying £120 for To Kill A Mocking Bird, now valued at around £12,000.

And a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, for which he paid £1,500 in 1987, is tipped to sell for £75,000 to £100,000.

Mr Hirschhorn said he intends to use the money from the auction to buy a flat.