T.E. Lawrence’s The Mint

Book collecting is a strange hobby, and bibliophiles are an admittedly strange lot. That said, there’s something very, very surreal happening at the moment…

T.E. Lawrence’s autobiographical The Mint was first published in London in 1955. In addition to a regular trade edition, there was a limited edition of just two-thousand copies very nicely done in quarter-bound leather, with marbled endpapers, et cetera, in a slipcase. Two thousand books, fifty-one years ago. With me so far?

Right now, as I type this, there are no less than FIVE copies of this edition available on eBay. That’s bizarre, even by the standards of the book trade.

By all accounts, it’s not a terribly great book – Lawrence wasn’t in particularly great mental health during the events of the book, and he never fully recovered from his experiences in the war, so the writing isn’t up to his usual standards… nor the subject matter particularly fascinating. It’s also not particularly collectible, as the going prices for the copies on eBay attest. But it’s still bizarre to see so many copies of such an old limited edition on the market at the same time. By contrast, I’d be surprised if five copies of the limited edition (500 signed and numbered) of Neal Stepenson’s Cryptonomicon make it to online marketplaces in one year… and I’ve seen exactly two copies of Sir Robert Anderson’s The Lighter Side of My Official Life available online in over a year, which wasn’t even a limited edition at all, and generally sells for outrageous amounts to Jack the Ripper fanatics… dang it.

Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on September 25th, 2006| Comments Off on T.E. Lawrence’s The Mint

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