DOUGLAS ADAMS… the cult up for auction!

Times magazine declared that Douglas Adams was the most cult British author since Tolkien. The aficionados will go to great lengths to get their hands on rarities. Since Douglas Adams’s death, the prices have risen substantially (especially for autographed works), but with a bit of patience you should still be able to find a few articles for a reasonable price.

So if you too are looking for a few rare objects you had better start scouring online auctions, starting with eBay but also with yahoo and Amazon which both have auction sections. The US, UK and German sites have the best selections, but if you are looking for objects in a specific language, for example French, go to your country’s sites.

Douglas Adams' motherOn US, UK and German sites, about 40 Douglas Adams related objects can be found at any one time. There are also many cheap books in several different editions (hardback and paperback), but also several rare or even astonishing objects. For example in February 2003 we could find a full sized cardboard reproduction of Douglas Adams’s mother, used to advertise the release of the second Dirk gently novel “The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul”.

In May 2004 a close friend put the author’s tent up for auction. This object was used for his famous trip through Europe during the summer of 1971 and according to the legend it is in this very tent that Douglas had, one evening whilst looking at the stars from the midst of a field, the revelation that would go on to become “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”. This tent ignited collectors’ passions and the page was visited nearly 9000 times in the space of 8 days even though the asking price started at 1000 US dollars and the bidders’ names were withheld.

Another ebayer put some Dr. Who working scripts for auction in early 2004. These pages, autographed by Douglas Adams and several other people involved in the famous British science fiction television series, went for as high as 300 euros a piece.

typewriterIn November 2005, a typewriter used by Douglas Adams was discovered. It was identified by Geoffrey Perkins as the typewriter Douglas used at the end of the seventies when he was writing the Hitchhiker’s radio series. She was put up for auction the 30th November 2005 at Christies for the benefit of the association “Rhino Recovery”.

Nevertheless, beware: if you come across reproductions of paintings signed by Douglas Adams, don’t panic! They are not creations of the author, but of a 19th century painter. To my knowledge he has no link whatsoever with the great writer. Also, avoid books such as “The Prostitute in the family tree: discovering humour and irony in the Bible” or “An index of monograms” written by homonyms.

In any case, here are a few of the most wanted objects and the corresponding prices observed towards the end of 2003:

– An autographed book, first edition: 150 to 300 euros.

– A double autographed copy (with Mark Cawardine for “Last Chance To See”, with Terry Jones for “Starship Titanic”): about 300 euros.

– A rare hardback compendium edition of the first three novels from the Galactic Guide series (Pan / Arthur Baker editions): between 150 and 500 euros (“The life, the universe and everything” is the more expensive one).

– The official original quotation Hitchhiker towel, a very rare object from the mid 80s: between 150 and 300 euros.

– The illustrated edition of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide: 30 to 50 euros.

– The first edition of the comic book: between 5 and 15 euros.

– The “Last Chance To See” CD-Rom (Windows and Macintosh): 30 to 50 euros

– The “Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” and “Bureaucracy” text adventure games from Infocom: 15 to 50 euros.

– The original vinyl UK edition of the radio series: 30 euros, and less than 15 for the US reprint.

– The collector’s cards: between 5 and 20 dollars for a box of 100. The autographed cards (100 were signed by Douglas) can be found on a regular basis on ebay (30 to 50 dollars each) and the limited cards (between 10 and 20 dollars each set – 4 teckchrome, 2 Holograms, 3 promo, ), the binder (30 dollars).