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September 2023

"Birds of the West Indies" for Sale

Bond. BOTWI Cover 1936  7.5 in
The market for early editions of Birds of the West Indies continues to be quite bullish.

A friend recently pointed out a couple of first editions of James Bond's seminal 1936 Birds of the West Indies are for sale. The price has certainly gone up since its debut, when it sold for $4.50.

Here's one for $16,000.

Here's another for $12,500.

Neither had a dust jacket, which is a nice feature to have when you're shelling out that kind of dough, but the main selling point is that they are signed first editions.

A couple of years ago, I could have bought one for $4,000, but I thought that was a bit steep. Wrong.

I also found an unsigned 1947 edition on eBay, incorrectly billed as  Field Guide of Birds in the West Indies. The blurb for the book states that this was the edition of the book that Fleming used to swipe Bond's name from the cover, but that is most likely incorrect. 

While researching The Real James Bond, I came across an interview with Bond in which he said that when he visited Fleming at Goldeneye, Fleming showed him the 1936 edition.

The 1947 edition is still a great book, and the first edition that was streamlined enough to be useful in the field.

A few British sellers were offering the same copy for $1,900.

No mention of a dustjacket for that copy either.

1947 field guide up for auction