PBOTD 5th June: H M Peel - Dido and Rogue

The pony books for the next few days are a bit of a tour around my bookdealing days. It's about a year now since I decided to shut up shop. I can't say I regret the decision, because the ability to earn money above the minimum wage is a massive relief I don't intend to give up. I do miss bookhunting though. I miss the excitement of tracking down a book I know a customer wants, or of finding a rarity. I don't think I will ever forget finding not one, but two copies of Primrose Cumming's Silver Snaffles on holiday in Norfolk. That was in the days before the Fidra reprint, when a decent copy with a dustjacket was a three figure book. Those Silver Snaffles paid for our holiday.

The very first books I sold were by H M Peel. I bought them from a bookshop in Oundle (now alas closed). I'd gone along to buy books for my children, seen the HM Peels - all beautiful first editions with dustjackets - but not bought them. What would I do with them, I thought. In those days I hadn't started collecting pony books. I had started collecting Monica Edwards' books, but that was it.

But those books itched at me. I woke up the next day, thinking about them, so rang the shop up to make sure they were still there (they were) and drove over and bought them. I read them all at a sitting, transported back to a time when I imagined that all I needed to live a happy horse-filled life, ever after, was the overwhelming wish to do so.

But we were then in the middle of one of our perennial crises with our expensive millstone of a house, and money needed to be made, so I decided I'd try selling the books on eBay. I knew absolutely nothing then about the rarity or otherwise of pony books - though to be fair, neither did anyone else. An American collector described to me how she'd come over to Hay on Wye in the 1980s and bought a container-load of pony books - the dealers couldn't push them her way fast enough, because they couldn't sell them.

The Americans were ahead of us in the UK, and I sold all of those books to American collectors, for sums that astonished me then. There's money in pony books, I thought. And so I started selling books.

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Kate Lattey said…
That's interesting that you say that about Silver Snaffles. I picked up a copy online (I think) for around $10. It's a hardcover and has a dustjacket, though it's bright orange and not an original edition. I'd never heard of it but thought I'd add it to the collection, and it's a lovely book.

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