Happy Birthday, Mr. Bond

>One hundred years ago today, Ian Fleming was born (he died in 1964). James Bond, his creation, lives on as the icon of spydom in Fleming’s dozen or so novels and the movies they have inspired. First editions of the novels are highly collectible (as I speak there is an inscribed copy of Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, available online for $75,000), and unfortunately I do not have any in Special Collections.

Best I can do is a Civil War item with a really cool cover relating to espionage by the famous Allan Pinkerton:

The Lilly Library at Indiana University (where I went to school for my Master’s) has the best Fleming collection I know of (see http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/overview/fleming.shtml), and I remember looking through it when I was a fascinated student new to the rare book world. One fact I had not realized until I did some reading for this posting was that Fleming wrote the children’s classic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

According to Joel Silver, Curator of Books at the Lilly Library, Fleming was also a noted bibliophile and collector, forming a collection of first editions of books that are considered milestones of progress printed in or after 1800. “In outlining his collecting scope to Percy Muir of the firm Elkin Matthews, Fleming noted that the books could come from any field, including science, technology, sports, games, economics, or government, but each had to be significant in its representation of the beginning of an important or popular idea or movement; they had to be, as Fleming put it, ‘books that made things happen.'”

“Fleming died on 12 August 1964. He had been a heavy drinker and smoker for years, and he had been in poor health for some time. Negotiations for the purchase of his collection soon began. Fleming had explored the sale of the collection in a preliminary way with Muir but had never been close to selling. Muir had assured Fleming that he could find a buyer in the United States for the collection, and one of the people he had in mind was still extremely interested: David A. Randall had attempted to buy the collection around 1950, when he was manager of the rare-book department of the Charles Scribner’s Sons bookstore in New York City. By the time of Fleming’s death Randall had been appointed director of the Lilly Library at Indiana University, which already held the collection of historical scientific and medical books assembled by J. K. Lilly Jr. Randall realized that Fleming’s collection would merge perfectly with the collection already held by the Lilly Library, since J. K. Lilly Jr., had concentrated on the expensive high spots that Fleming had avoided. Working through his friend Percy Muir, Randall negotiated with Ann Fleming to bring the Fleming collection to Indiana. The negotiations were long and difficult, but the collection finally arrived in Bloomington in the fall of 1970. For $150,000 the Lilly Library obtained Fleming’s collection of modern milestones of progress, nearly all of the typescripts for the James Bond novels, and Fleming’s specially bound author’s copies of his own published books.”

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