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Mon 07 Mar 2022

Donated special edition literary classic 'Ulysses' expected to make hundreds under the hammer after nearly being sold for a quid!

A RARE special edition of the fictional classic Ulysses with an intriguing history will go under the hammer later this month after being donated to a Tenovus Cancer Care shop in Cardiff.

The modernist masterpiece by Irish author James Joyce could have been sold for just £1 after a mystery benefactor donated it in a cardboard box to the shop in Clifton Street, Splott.

Expectations are now high the edition will fetch around £800 at a live auction due to be held at Roger, Jones, and Co Auction House in Leckwith, Cardiff, on March 16th

Tenovus Cancer Care volunteer Françoise Curtis – the shop’s volunteer bookkeeper and self-confessed bookworm – made the exciting discovery, knew it was special and set it aside for valuation.

Françoise, known by her colleagues as Frankie, said

I discovered this special edition in relatively good condition amongst a pile of Thomas Hardy books donated from a gentleman we’d not seen in the shop before and none of us knew.

 My role as a volunteer is to sort through the books donated to us and fill the shelves with a variety of different genres. I have a real love of books, have done since a child, and when I saw this Ulysses edition, I knew I’d stumbled on a real gem – I’ve been treating it with kid gloves ever since.

People might have the perception our bookshelves are filled with your stereotypical romance titles…. your Mills and Boon or Barbara Cartlands, but over the past few years that’s changed. We now stock a vast array of niche books - educational books, children’s books, first editions, classics and so much more, great for collectors and families alike.

We’re grateful for this donation, the proceeds of which will help us support and care for cancer patients

This special edition of Ulysses is numbered 766 of only 900 volumes and is printed on japon vellum paper with a green buckram upper cover decorated in gilt with a large Homeric bow, in reference to Homer’s Odyssey, the epic classical poem by which the novel is heavily influenced.

Intriguingly, this special edition also has a unique history of its own. Hidden between the covers were two court summonses. The summonses, dated 1946, were both for illegally being in possession of a firearm, in this case a revolver.   

Shop manager Carl Scott said:

I honestly might have sold this book for a quid and wouldn’t have had a clue if it weren’t for Frankie’s stellar knowledge of books and eagle-eye.

It just goes to show what can come through our doors and how our charity shops can be a treasure trove of interesting and potentially valuable donated objects – we’re just not all about clothes.

However, what’s really fascinating about this book is its history. This edition of Ulysses has been on an intriguing journey. The Summonses are not being auctioned and have no worth but the story behind this edition is just as exciting as the fact it’s so rare and we’d love to find out more about this book’s history and its original owner!

The 18-chapter Ulysses was first published in Paris by Shakespeare and Company in 1922. Initially censored in the UK, the novel was written over seven years in three cities. Events centre around three main characters, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife Mary, during a single day in Dublin.

A spokesperson from Rogers Jones & Co said:

We are delighted to have been chosen to offer for sale a rare 1936 edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, in our ‘Selections & Collections’ sale on March 16th.

Originally published in 1922, this year marks the centenary of the publication of the novel called by Vladimir Nabokov ‘the greatest masterpiece of 20th Century prose’.

Celebrations culminating on Bloomsday (June 16th) are expected to be massive with cultural events taking place in Dublin, Belfast, Budapest and Paris for “Ulysses Journey 2022” from February to June.

Expectations are high that the lot will achieve in the region of £800 at the auction, with proceeds going to benefit Tenovus Cancer charity, and Rogers Jones & Co. are happily reducing their selling fees to reflect this.

For more information contact Press & Communications Manager Nicola Rose-Ludvigsen on 029 20 768883 or 07918 567992. nicola.ludvigsen@tenovuscancercare.org.uk

If you or someone you love has been affected by cancer, our free cancer Support Line is there for you. Just call 0808 808 1010