Skyfall and the Ian Fleming book collector

by Admin on October 31, 2012 · Modern Firsts

James Bond Skyfall

Fifty years after his first movie appearance in 1962 with Dr No, James Bond has proved to be more popular than ever. Sam Mendes’s latest James Bond film, Skyfall took more than £20 million at the UK opening last weekend. With the beginning of November seeing the launch of the film in the US, expect a further rush of 007 related activity. Daniel Craig is back as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 in the 23rd adventure of the longest-running film franchise of all time.

In the latest film which is not based on a book, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As M16 comes under attack, agent 007 is in hot pursuit to track down and eliminate the threat from a cyberterrorist plot at any cost for the sake of adrenaline-hungry 007 fans. The good-bad news for James Bond book collectors is that the latest productions of the film series are not based on any particular novel. Collectors are limited to the finite availability of the original Ian Fleming publications to satisfy their thirst for valuable Bond collectibles, which means that existing supply is highly sought after, very scarce and, of course, pricy.

Four years ago, the Edinburgh auction house Lyon and Turnbull sold off a collection of firsts, plus personal papers and pictures owned by a personal friend of Fleming, the diplomat, war hero, traveler and clan chieftain, Sir Fitroy Maclean, for £31,000 including the premium. Sir Fitzroy’s sale is not the only example of the superspy’s still strong presence in the book trade. Our own Rare Book Sales Monitor was recently updated to include pricing change trends for books authored by Ian Fleming. The comparables for his first issue editions, as well as autographed association copies have appreciated during the 3rd Quarter of 2012, in a similar fashion to the appreciation observed during the 3rd Quarter of last year. The highlight of the sales activity was recorded at a Sotheby’s event in London last July where a “From Russia with Love,” first edition, presentation copy sold for £16,250; four times the estimate. Signed editions of his work are very scarce since he had a tendency to only sign dedications to close friends.

Bond’s next two films are not based on any particular book by Ian Fleming, either. In fact, the last film adaptation from a Fleming book was Craig’s debut film Casino Royale. The upcoming releases will be based instead on a two-part original story by John Logan, the screenwriter of Martin Scorsese’s film Hugo. Logan, who co-wrote Skyfall with retiring collegues Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, has been brought in to oversee the scripts for Bond films 24 and 25 produced by the film company Eon, after pitching his vision to the  producers of the series, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson.

In parallel, Ian Fleming will be the subject of a biographical film directed by Duncan Jones, which is adapted from Andrew Lycett’s book Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, Turner Publishing, Atlanta, GA, 1995. It will feature the writer’s life before and during the time he worked as an intelligence officer for the Royal Navy. This position allowed him to witness true heroism, as well as the capabilities of certain evil men firsthand, which in turn facilitated the transition of Ian Fleming to James Bond as the war drew to a close.


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