At Derby I had a chance to chat to some old friends and also to peruse the various stands. I find these days that I spend as much time looking at books (if not more) than looking at figures and terrain.
I always enjoy Dave Lanchester’s stand as his selection is usually very good and he is as keen on price as anyone. He has a “very rare” box which I normally skip as it always reminds me to redo my insurance. On this occasion I clocked a number of WRG “Armies & Enemies…” books in there which are hitting the £50-£60 bracket. I only wish I’d bought all of them now, instead of just those I was interested in at the time.
And then there’s the obligatory Funcken books selling for lots of dosh as well.
I noted before when writing about my attempts to track down SCW books that there are often odd books that are the only book on the subject and so command a high price. I think that the problem with the WRG books and so on is that those who own them have them for a reason and aren’t going to get rid of them on a whim. Essentially you are only going to off load the books when you lose interest in wargaming or when you die. So, those of you who want a copy of Duncan Head’s book on the Macedonian and Punic Wars are just sitting around waiting for someone to die, more or less.
I suppose other hobbies must have similar issues, but we’re not talking here about antique books. Roy Boss’s book on Justinian for Monvert (available on line for anything between £30 - £160 depending on condition) was only published in 1993. Duncan Head’s book referenced above was written in 1982 although I recall buying a brand new copy of that much more recently than that. The Funcken’s are earlier than that and some may be 50 years old I guess.
I am reminded of how people outside that hobby don’t understand what is and is not of value from re-watching “Callan” recently. There are a few episodes that resolve around really rare figures – in one of them Callan makes a copy in order to befriend a target. In another episode a potential girl friend tries to read up on Napoleon’s Army and the chosen book (yes, I stopped the DVD to check it as she hides it under a cushion) is the Funcken book on the First Empire, in the original French. I remember thinking that of the items supposedly of value in the programme that was probably up there with them now.
It is said that the specialist second hand booksellers do house clearances and that weary widows will off load the book collection for £50 just to be rid of it (although I guess that a fair number of toy soldiers may end up in land fill, so perhaps that’s a better fate). I have resolved to add some papers to my will suggesting to my children that it’ll pay dividends to them to sell my books off via Amazon and e-bay. There’s probably enough there to pay for a car.