A Real Bond Market: Why 007 Collectibles Are Hotter Than Ever

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When dealers and collectors come together this weekend for the 62n/a Annual New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, they are expected to buy and sell all kinds of unique items. Among the offerings: a first edition copy of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a rare book of poetry by EE Cummings and a document signed by Indian leader Gandhi, filled with his fingerprints.

But perhaps the most eye-catching item is a collection of movie scripts and other materials related to everyone’s favorite fictional secret agent: James Bond.

Peter Harrington Rare Books, a British retailer, is offering the collection of all things Bond for 500,000 pounds, or about $650,000. It includes scripts for every Bond film over 20 years old. In some cases, only 20 to 25 copies of these scripts are likely to exist, said Adam Douglas, senior specialist at Peter Harrington.

Even more intriguing: the collection also includes two versions of the script for “Warhead”, a James Bond film, partly set in New York, which was never made. (Note: The screenplay was co-written by Sean Connery, arguably the most famous of the Bond movies.) Another “Warhead” item in the collection: a watercolor depicting a set for the future film.

Douglas said the collection was acquired from a Bond enthusiast who had taken years to put the material together. Taken as a whole, it represents “a complete picture of how the Bond films were made,” Douglas said, noting that the collection includes material throughout the recently concluded Daniel Craig era of 007 footage. (Craig’s last Bond film, “No Time to Die,” premiered in 2021.)

The collection of James Bond rarities sold for $650,000 at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair includes scripts and artwork related to “Warhead,” a 007 image that was never made.

Courtesy of Peter Harrington Rare Books

While the collectible may be important to Bond fans, it’s only a slice of the 007 collectibles market – a true Bond market, if you will. And it’s a market that has remained consistently active in recent years, according to dealers.

There is a demand not only for the film elements, but also for first edition copies of the Ian Fleming novels that inspired the films. The books regularly sell for tens of thousands of dollars each, said Joe Maddalena, executive vice president of Heritage Auctions, the Texas-based company specializing in a range of collectibles.

Maddalena says Heritage will auction a particularly rare Bond item in June – the pocket notebook that Ian Fleming used to develop the Bond novel, ‘You Only Live Twice’. He expects the item to sell for $100,000.

Some pages from Ian Fleming’s notebook for “You Only Live Twice”. The Bond object will be auctioned in June.

Heritage Courtesy Auctions

Some Bond items can even reach seven-figure prices. An example: a restored Aston Martin car, used in the film “Goldfinger”, left for $6.4 million.

Maddalena says the enduring popularity of the Bond cannon is what drives prices up. As much as moviegoers flock to the latest Marvel movie today, the 007 series dates back over half a century and has fans across the globe.

“I can’t imagine anywhere in the world that people haven’t heard of 007,” he said.

Indeed, when Amazon AMZN,
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recently announced that it had acquired MGM, the film studio behind Bond footage and countless other films, it was widely speculated that the 007 cannon helped secure the deal.

As Peter Newman, film professor and program director at New York University, told trade publication Variety: “The reason for the acquisition seemed to be after the big titles, the intellectual property, which of course, above all else, meant the James Bond franchise.”

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