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DateOriginal Topic
12th June 2003Sonia Clarke
By Peter Ewart

I've long wondered why Sonia Clarke's work seems to fetch such high prices and wonder whether anyone on this forum can explain, please. I'm fully aware, of course, that limited editions are obviously going to command a premium and have no doubt that the standard of her scholarship is another reason, although I'm familiar with her work only through a couple of articles so far.

But am I missing any other reason? (Other than the obvious - supply & demand!) I'm quite keen to add "Zululand at War " and "Invasion of Zululand" to my library (and have been for some time) but several hundred quid would buy an awful lot of other books on my "wants list"!!!

I'm sure someone (perhaps in RSA?) can put me straight. Very many thanks.

Peter
DateReplies
15th June 2003James Garland
Peter,
I can't understand the pricing either. It seems some booksellers just come up with a price off the top of their heads. I can give you another example. A very well known bookseller was, and still is offering "The Zulu War Journel of Colonel Henry Harford" for 75 !!!!! but I bought it on the internet in perfect condition for 9 and I,ve seen it a couple of times since for less that 20. So just keep looking. You will eventually find it at the right price.
15th June 2003Keith Smith
Peter

I know these books are very expensive but they are well worth it, especially 'Zululand at War'. I have both but did not pay quite as high a price as being currently asked. I use abebooks.com as a very useful source for nearly all my books as they are almost unobtainable in Oz. I recently bought Coghill's 'Whom the Gods Love' very reasonably after a long wait for the right price. You may need a little patience.

Keith
15th June 2003Peter Ewart

James & Keith

Thank you both. I'm much more encouraged after those comments. James, I think the specialist dealers who are aware of a keen market in a certain topic (AZW for example) & know that certain books will fetch high prices, tend to pitch them at levels they believe will still secure a buyer eventually, especially if they are prepared to wait. I suppose the patience which Keith recommends can be exercised by the dealer as well! I suspect that titles will still surface at much lower prices (as you've proved) when offered by dealers who don't specialise so narrowly, or, of course, by those who are completely unaware of a book's potential attraction - on eBay, for example.

I don't know how many dealers' mail lists I'm on, especially for military history (and I've used them a lot over the years) but I, too, now find I trawl "abebooks" for all my main searches. There is still nothing to beat the sense of anticipation when entering a musty 2nd-hand bookshop which one hasn't visited before, but real bargains are becoming rarer, so the facility provided by "abebooks" (& similar sites) of comparing each copy pricewise is a godsend - as well as all the other advantages it offers.

Must admit I don't put my order through the "abebooks" system but ring the dealer direct, so I tend to go for copies being sold from the UK. On the other hand, for titles originally published in RSA only, that's not such an easy policy. I keep waiting for Guy's "The Heretic" to come up on the site via a UK dealer, purely for convenience's sake, but I think my impatience will get the better of me & I'll pick it up from o'seas. Now there's an example of a book which, for some reason, hasn't appreciated at all in price, which astonishes me, given the overall interest in the subject & the author's reputation as a scholar.

Keith, I bet I can beat your price on "Whom the Gods Love." Picked it up only a stone's throw from Brecon for a fiver!!! (But have to admit my notes tell me that this was 22 yrs ago!) It made my visit to Hay-on-Wye worthwhile the moment I saw it.

Thanks again to both for your advice.

Peter
17th June 2003Peter Quantrill
Peter,
The answer is perhaps twofold. First the scarcity value which is obvious.Second and more important ---the contents.The work of Sonia Clarke ranks arguably amongst the best published on the AZW. The letters of Crealock,Clery and Harness are utterly revealing and give an insight to their inner thoughts.Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that their private letters would over a century later become public domain. No disciple of the AZW should be without a copy or have access to one.
The half leather bound numbered copies 1--125 would obviously command a premium over the 850 cloth bound unnumbered version. It is interesting to note that 25 copies in full leather and lettered A to Y were not sold. They were distributed privately by Harry Oppenheimer under a covering letter to a circle of select friends.Since 1984 only 5 of these copies have come onto the market.
The contents are deserving of a wider audience and with this in mind I have approached The Brenthurst Press in Johannesburg. Whilst nothing may come of this, the matter of republishing in perhaps a different format is being put on the Agenda of their next Board meeting.
Peter
18th June 2003Peter Ewart

Peter

Thanks for such a helpful reply. You have filled me in a bit & I can begin to appreciate why all & sundry sing her praises. I'm sure you're absolutely right that her work would be snapped up by a wider audience & it would be great if that could happen - (notwithstanding any partial or relative decline in the intrinsic value of the existing limited editions(!) and the possible necessity of having to circumvent any stipulation or guarantees made about the limited nature of the original publications).

In the burgeoning AZW interest which has occurred worldwide since publication I would think there would be a market for a reasonably priced "working copy." Whatever transpires, many thanks for your advice. With a birthday coming up, I'm going to have to start dropping hints ...

Peter