Candace Jordan, Chicago Socialite and Consummate Book Collector
Candace Jordan has made an incredible name for herself in Chicago society. A former actress and model, Candace now authors a Chicago Tribune column, hosts an online show called "Candid Candace Chicago," maintains her own blog, and regularly contributes to A Perfect Event and STATUS magazines. Candace has also built a name for herself in the book collecting community; both she and her husband are avid collectors of rare books. Candace was kind enough to tell us more about her exceptional collection of children's books.
Books Tell You Why: You collect antiques, paperweights, and children's books. How did you get started with children's books?
Candace: I started collecting children’s books after the first Harry Potter book appeared. I had never read anything like it (before or since).I love fantasies and this book had it all: magic, well-defined characters, descriptive narrative, everything I loved. And since my husband was already a collector of modern firsts, which I also loved, this area became my focus.
Books Tell You Why: Your Harry Potter books are certainly some of the crown jewels of your collection. Why are these so valuable? And why are they so dear to you?
Candace: These books are valuable because they are all lovingly inscribed to her father, whom she adored (at the time). She had circled “first edition” and added “guard it with your lives”.....It was all new to her and the inscriptions show this. This time will never come again, not only for Rowling, but for the world. Those books changed reading habits for anyone who read them and have now created the largest book market: young adult fiction.
Rowling also named who the character Ron Weasley was based on in real life. In one book, she writes “Up the Sunday Mail,” which had obviously written something about her or her books that she didn't like. They all showed her true feelings at the time and her elation at the books being so successful and the fact that she wanted to share that enthusiasm with her father. That time will never come again. Her father lost her trust and she lost her innocence.
Books Tell You Why: You've noted that JK Rowling is a "rockstar of our time." Why do you believe that her books resonate with so many people?
Candace: I believe her books resonate with so many people because they hold universal truths despite the fact that they are fiction. They have heroes vs. villains, good vs. evil, and right vs. wrong, all topics that everyone can relate to.
Candace and husband Chuck Jordan at the premier for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." The screening benefited the Urban Prep Academy.
Books Tell You Why:
How do you decide what to add to your collection next? What items are you looking for now?Candace:
After I collected all of the Rowling books signed (British and American), I branched out into interesting ephemera such as signed scripts (I have the Sorcerer’s Stone
and the Chamber of Secrets
signed by the casts) plus signed photos, proof copies, etc. I also have the two books Rowling donated for Comic Relief (signed), Fantastic Beasts; Where to Find Them
and Quidditch Through the Ages
I always look for books that have a little something extra, like a drawing plus a signature. This puts them into a whole new level of collecting and adds extra value. For instance, I have Polar Express
signed by Chris Van Allsburg with a drawing of a reindeer. I have Ferdinand
with signatures of both Munro Leaf and artist Robert Lawson with a drawing of a bull, plus a handwritten letter signed by both concerning the book. I have a watercolor drawing by Ludwig Bemelmans of his most beloved character, Madeline. As far as what I’m looking for next....why the next Harry Potter, of course!Books Tell You Why:
What advice would you offer to novice collectors?Candace:
Collect what you love; make sure you have provenance on a signed book (take photos of the signing if possible); try to find books with that little something extra like a drawing; look everywhere; develop contacts in the book community; memorize catalogs pertaining to what you collect and the description; know the book’s first edition points; subscribe to magazines relating to your collection (we love Fine Books & Collections
); buy from reputable dealers (this is the number one piece of advice!)Books Tell You Why:
You're a queen of the Chicago scene. What about the rare book scene? Are you part of a community of collectors? What do they collect?Candace:
My husband and I used to be more active in the rare book scene. We never missed a book fair, especially the New York Book Fair and knew a lot of the dealers, but lately my schedule hasn't permitted us this luxury. I've become uber busy this year with my website
and internet show
; my Chicago Tribune social column
which comes out every Sunday; and contributing to A Perfect Event
magazines.Books Tell You Why:
Anything else to add?Candace:
When we started collecting, prices were reasonable (sometimes high but still reasonable and affordable). With the economy the way it is now, our activity has slowed down, but that doesn't mean I don’t pay attention to what’s out there and being offered. It is a wonderful hobby and our books make us happy. A room has no soul without books in it somewhere.