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Rare First World War book collection goes on show in Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:39 24 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:55 24 January 2017

The City Bookshop in Norwich is holding a sale of rare books about the First World War, including these by Arthur Conan Doyle. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

The City Bookshop in Norwich is holding a sale of rare books about the First World War, including these by Arthur Conan Doyle. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

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Chronicling one of the most turbulent periods in European history, a remarkable private collection of books about the First World War, including rare and valuable volumes, has gone on sale at The City Bookshop in Norwich.

These books about the Norfolk Regiment are among the rare volumes on sale at The City Bookshop in Norwich. Picture: Sonya Duncan.These books about the Norfolk Regiment are among the rare volumes on sale at The City Bookshop in Norwich. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

As shop owner, book dealer David Clarke, explains, the library belonged to a prominent historian who has written many books and papers on the campaigns of the Great War, including the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele, which was fought on the Western Front between July and November 1917.

“There are about 1,000 books in total, with some of them worth several hundred pounds each,” says David.

The collection is on display in the Davey Place shop’s first floor exhibition space until February 12 and includes books on regiments, campaigns, awards and medals, plus reminiscences, biographies and official records.

“A lot of them are contemporary accounts written during the First World War or in the 1920s,” says David. “There is also a large quantity of recent ones.”

David Clarke, owner of The City Bookshop in Norwich, who is holding a sale of rare First World War books. Picture: Sonya Duncan.David Clarke, owner of The City Bookshop in Norwich, who is holding a sale of rare First World War books. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

Highlights of the collection include 26 volumes of The Official History of the Great War (France and Belgium), and a complete set of The British Campaign in France and Flanders by an author more commonly associated with one of the world’s most famous fictional detectives, Arthur Conan Doyle.

The human toll of the conflict is thrown into sharp relief in seven volumes of memorials to Rugbeians who fell during the First World War and several volumes for Etonians.

The collection also provides some interesting insights into regimental history in volumes about the Royal Scots Regiment and the Norfolk Regiment.

As David explains, from valuation to collecting the books – in this instance there were three van loads – and pricing them up, the sale of a collection of this size is between four and five months in the planning.

After the exhibition closes, any books that haven’t been sold will be listed on the internet on Amazon or AbeBooks or put out on the shelves.

It’s extremely rare to find an independent, family-run bookshop in a city centre rubbing shoulders with national chains.

However David was able to buy the premises, which used to be home to Clarks and Timpsons, in 2010.

In addition to selling new and secondhand books, The City Bookshop holds regular specialist book sales and is always interested in buying libraries and collections of non-fiction books on a range of subjects, particularly on Norfolk, Suffolk and the Broads, the military, aircraft and the Navy, transport, art and design and children’s books.

The team is highly experienced – all are professional booksellers who have either had their own businesses or have worked for well-known national bookshop chains.

David is a longstanding member of the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association (PBFA) and more recently was elected to join the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA).

He was the leaseholder at St Michael at Plea church in nearby Queen Street for 20 years, where he ran the well-known antiques centre, cafe and bookshop.

And he is also a successful author and has had several books published on his particular area of interest, country houses.

The First World War collection sale runs until February 12.

Visit www.citybookshopnorwich.co.uk to find out more.

Anyone who has a collection of books they want to sell can contact The City Bookshop on 01603 626113.

This feature is sponsored by The City Bookshop, Norwich.



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