Last week Frida Kahlos copy of Edgar Allan Poe sold at auction for $24,000. Why was the rather tattered copy so valuable? Kahlo filled the book with artistic marginalia. The price of this book reflects the value of association copies, that is, books that are affiliated with a famous person or someone close to the author.
"Frida Kahlo's doodles vastly increased the value of her copy of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe."
Meanwhile Other Peoples Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell details 52 presentation copies from 1470 to 1986. Published by the Claxton Club, the book includes beautifully written vignettes such as an essay recounting a book exchange between Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman.
So why all this fuss over association copies? Collectors value association copies for a variety of reasons. Association copies are more personal than signed or anonymously inscribed copies, providing a glimpse into the author or owners life and environment. They can also illustrate relationships between the author and the authors family, friends, and colleagues. Heres a look at some of the notable association copies from our collection:
- Gerard M. Devlin, author of Silent Wings: The Saga of the U.S. Army and Marine Combat Glider Pilots During World War II, dedicated a first edition of the book to glider pilot Jim Sampson. Sampson then dedicated the book to his son.
- Umberto Eco inscribed a limited edition of Filosofi In Libertà for his bibliographer, James Contursi. This is one of many different books Eco inscribed for Contursi.
- Both Cornelia Funke and her translator Anthea Bell inscribed an advance readers edition of Inkspell for award-winning author Shar Levine.
- Budd Schulberg inscribed a first edition of What Makes Sammy Run? to two of his dearest friends in all this world, Joaquin and Karin Godoy.
- Thomas Harris inscribed first editions of both Black Sunday and Red Dragon for the mother of a childhood friend.
- Numerous authors inscribed books to Betty Anderson, the legendary art director at Knopf during the late 20th century
From a lovely association copy of What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg