Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Murder to Music

Ever heard of A.C. and Carmen Edington? Until recently, neither had I. It turns out that they were a husband and wife crime writing team. But they didn’t exactly enjoy the success of Nicci French. They produced a few books which appeared under the Collins Crime Club imprint during the Golden Age of detective fiction between the wars and then seem to have disappeared from sight.

My attention was drawn to them when I chanced upon one of their books for sale on eBay the other day. It was being sold by a dealer in rare books from whom I’ve purchased a couple of titles over the years. His books tend to be far from cheap, but of real quality and distinct scarcity value.

However, I was taken aback to see that the starting price for a title by the Edingtons called Murder to Music was no less than £625. Admittedly, it boasted a dust jacket and an inscription from one of the co-authors (A.C.) But even so….

My amazement increased when I found that the final selling price was a hefty £1095. For a book that few people have heard of, by authors who are pretty much forgotten! It’s very thought-provoking. One of the thoughts this has provoked is that the collectability of an old and rare book is increased not merely by the presence of a dust jacket in reasonable condition, but also by a message signed by the author to a recipient.

Inscriptions by present day authors are common place. But it was not always so. Because I’m interested in the history of the genre, I must confess to being fascinated by authorial inscriptions from the past, especially when they cast light on the personality or opinions of the author. But it’s a horribly expensive game – even more expensive than I realised, if the outcome of this particular internet auction is any guide.

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