So I have something just a lot exciting today. Aside from loving newer books, I love old and antique books too, I love looking at antique book stores and reading about them. On a side note, one of my favourite tv shows is Antiques Roadshow, where of course there’s several book and manuscript specialists, my long time favourite being Clive Farahar.
What’s my point? Well I got in touch with the good man himself and asked if he’d answer some questions for my blog, which he did. I pretty much squealed as I read his replies, being a longtime Agatha Christie fan myself:
1. What ignited your passion for books, in particularly antique books?
CF. I always enjoyed Church Jumble Sales and Village Fetes and there were always lots of books to look at, and some were remarkably good. As I got older and discovered Second Hand Bookshops, I found that I could supplement my pocket money by selling my “finds” from these sources.
2. At the age of 4, you received a first edition set of the Noddy books. What was it about these stories that really captured your interest?
CF: The stories were mild enough but there was always a new episode with Noddy and Big Ears getting in and out of scrapes, and of course Noddy had a car and I always wanted a car.
3. I presume you’d be a keen reader, so if you’re able to read for leisure, what are some of your favourite genres of books? Favourite authors? All time favourite reads?
CF: I read all the time, but I love detective fiction which I discovered early on in paperbacks, Penguin Green Backs which specialized in it, from Earl Stanley Gardener and Raymond Chandler to Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. I wrote to Agatha Christie once about her work and asked rather rude questions “What makes you novels tick?” and “Do you always know ‘who dun’ it before you start a book?”. She kindly wrote back pointing out my use of “slang” as she called it would not get me good O level marks.
4. What was the moment in your career when you knew you wanted to work with manuscripts and antique books?
CF: I was 19, employed as a Booksellers Assistant, going through a box of books at a minor sale in Bond Street when I discovered the original illustrations for Rex Whistler’s first commission for Frank Swettenham’s only novel’ Arabella in Africa’. The Auctioneers had ignored them as printer’s proofs, and I bought them for very little. After that I have always meticulously sorted through bundles of paper whether manuscript or printed papers for such hidden gems and unconsidered trifles.
5. The Antiques Roadshow is now in its 40th season, which is definitely a remarkable feat in itself. I imagine you’d have seen lots of fantastic items since you first joined in 1985? Therefore I ask you if you had to have a top five finds, what would you pick?
CF: . It always amazes me that after all this time that new and amazing ‘finds’ are still turning up on the Roadshow
A Signed First Edition of Peter Rabbit £25,000
25 Original Drawings by Beatrix Potter £250,000
A Collection of Love Letters to an unkown Mistress of the artist Henry Moore £50,000.
A Magnificent book on Camellias found in a Junk shop for 10 pence, £10,000.
The Chandos Manuscript at London University £4,000,000.
Thank you Clive, it’s been a pleasure. I wish you all the best for this season and future seasons of the Antiques Roadshow.