I maintain a list of wants of extremely obscure books and rare titles on several bookselling websites. Periodically, I get an exciting email that one of those books is being offered for sale. I usually hold my breath, close my eyes and hit the link. Then I slowly exhale and open my eyes to see if the price is something I think is not only reasonable but affordable. More often than not I can afford the book and I buy it without hesitation. A few days ago I got an alert that one of those very rare "wants" turned up.
Here's the listing (with some typos corrected):
Title: The Clue Of The Postage Stamp
Author: Arthur Bray
Publisher: Alex Thom and Co, London and Dublin
Publication Date: 1913
Edition: 1st Edition
First edition. in original illustrated boards as issued. With original 'fake' postage stamp to front board as required. 8vo, frontispiece,371pp. Showing overall wear, rubbing to spine. edges and corners. Inner hinges firm, some wear and tenderness to outer. Overall marking and discolouration. Pencil annotation to f.e.p. stating 'very rare and almost unobtainable'. More images available on request. 9370. Eric Quayle p.88 the Collector's Book Of Detective Fiction.
And the price? A mere £2400 or $3535.61. Plus shipping! (the tightwads)
This title had been on my want list for nearly ten years. Patience is a virtue, right? At least I know it actually exists. Perhaps I need to heed my own tongue-in-cheek advice given to one blog visitor a while ago: "Take comfort in knowing that you can't have everything." ...sigh...
SURREAL UPDATE: Another copy of this extremely elusive book has suddenly popped up for sale from a different UK dealer on the same website. Based on the photos and description this second copy seems to be in much better condition and -- bonus! -- it's signed by the author, though for some reason the seller does not offer a photograph of the signature. Remarkably, it's cheaper than the one I was alerted about. You'll save four hundred pounds if you have £2000 in pocket change to buy this more attractive second copy. Photos of the other handsome copy can be viewed at the bookseller's own website.