A WORD ABOUT WORDS

BY ANDREW FRANCIS,

DIRECTOR, THE SIGNATURE STORE

I’ve bought and sold books for many years and I still never get tired of the thrill of the chase for that rare or special edition. The thought of walking into a second-hand bookshop and finding an absolute gem for a bargain price is something that’s unique to this area of collectibles, and it keeps books forever interesting.

 

There are many aspects to building a motoring library, from signed autobiographies or reference works to ultra-rare special editions and investment pieces (more on those another time…). Many people start with biographies or marque reference works, as it’s relatively straightforward and cost-effective to quickly build a nice collection, and some period biographies or yearbooks will appreciate nicely, books are a great way to collect autographs too.

 

Then there are rare finds: Jim Clark co-edited ‘The Ford Book of Competition Motoring’, and he signed copies as corporate gifts, finding one is a rare joy. Mike Hawthorn happily signed copies of Challenge Me The Race from 1958, and they are hugely collectible; but there are also fakes around, so buyer beware…

 

My personal favourites are motor racing photographers books such as Jesse Alexander, Dave Friedman or Louis Klemantaski – the story behind the photo, is often as good as the story the photo is telling. Books by Akira Mase; ‘Great Drivers’ and ‘The Eyes’ are also worth tracking down, just for the atmospheric photographs.

 

Where the books have come from can also be a factor. A few years ago I was chatting to Stirling Moss at his home, and he mentioned he had some books lying around that were just gathering dust. He took me to the top floor of his Mayfair townhouse, where there was a galleried library that was absolutely crammed with 1000s of books – and Stirling had never read any of them (‘never found the time, old chap’)!

 

I helped Stirling sort through them, carefully selecting books he wanted to keep, and he had some incredible rare editions; personally dedicated gift’s from Enzo Ferrari, and many books he had supplied a foreword for or been featured in. Plus, he had entire boxes of his own books, fresh from the publishers, he’d just stored in the loft (with some of his racing trophies) where they’d remained for 50 years. Incredible!

 

We created a special bookplate, so when they were sold, it would record that they were from the library of Stirling Moss, and he signed quite a few where we thought it would add value. I managed to buy a few from him myself, to add to my private collection. Like I said, the thrill of the chase never leaves you.

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Signed by Jim Clark, copies of this book can be worth over £1000

BY ANDREW FRANCIS,

DIRECTOR, THE SIGNATURE STORE

ARTICLE FIRST PUBLISHED, JUNE 2021, MOTORSPORT MAGAZINE