“Casino Royale” First Edition Copy, Presented by Potter & Potter Auctions: Know Before You Bid

James Ardis
Published on
First edition copy of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Photo by Potter & Potter Auctions.
First edition copy of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Photo by Potter & Potter Auctions.

After making a bad investment in a chain of French brothels, Soviet counterintelligence operative Le Chiffre plans to get his money back in a game of Chemin de Fer Baccarat. Tasked with bankrupting Le Chiffre and thereby striking a major blow to the Soviets is 00 agent James Bond. This is the setup of Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale, the 1953 premier of James Bond, that would birth a multi-billion-dollar IP. On April 18th, Potter & Potter Auctions will offer a first edition copy of Casino Royale as part of its Fine Books & Manuscripts event. Collectors around the world can register to bid on the auction house’s website.

Fleming wrote Casino Royale in just one month from his bungalow, named Goldeneye, on Oracabessa Bay in Jamaica. The writer spoke in detail about his quick, dutiful routine in a Books and Booksmen interview a year before his death. “I write for about three hours in the morning—from about 9:30 till 12:30,” said Fleming. “And I do another hour’s work between 6 and 7 in the evening.”

Bond author Ian Fleming. Photo by Getty Images.
Bond author Ian Fleming. Photo by Getty Images.

Much to collector’s chagrin, only 4,728 first edition copies of Casino Royale were published, with many of them delivered straight to public libraries. The book was an instant success in the UK, where the first edition sold out in less than a month. Publisher Jonathan Cape quickly signed Ian Fleming to a three-book deal and would go on to publish all fourteen of his Bond books.

The first edition copy of Casino Royale crossing the auction block later this month with Potter & Potter comes with the original book, dust jacket, and clamshell case. Later prints included a review by the Sunday Times inside the front flap, a key distinction for collectors between a first edition dust jacket and other copies. For the book itself, verifying that it is a first edition copy is as easy as flipping the title page over and ensuring the text behind reads “First Published 1953” with no mention of later editions. Potter & Potter offers a detailed condition report in the lot summary. It mentions, for instance, minor chipping to the spine ends and corners but still calls the lot an “attractive copy”.

While the book was a quick success in the UK, Bond would need some more time to catch on in the US. In an ill-fated attempt to market Casino Royale, US publisher American Popular Library renamed the 00 agent “Jimmy Bond” and retitled the book You Asked For It (1955). Fleming and the James Bond series would later get a helpful boost in the United States in 1961, when President John F. Kennedy named From Russia With Love (1957) one of his favorite books.

Cover of You Asked for It, the retitled American version of Casino Royale, both by Ian Fleming. Photo by Killer Covers.
Cover of You Asked for It, the retitled American version of Casino Royale, both by Ian Fleming. Photo by Killer Covers.

Beyond introducing readers to James Bond, adaptations of Casino Royale helped cement the character’s continued legacy. The 1967 satire Casino Royale showcased Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Daliah Lavi, and Woody Allen, all playing (and making fun of) James Bond. “Casino Royale is too much for one James Bond!” promises the film’s tagline. Modern audiences are more familiar, of course, with the 2006 movie Casino Royale, which ushered in the Daniel Craig era of Bond.

Those interested in the first edition copy of Casino Royale or any other lot in the Fine Books and Manuscript event, presented by Potter & Potter Auctions, can register to bid online on the auction house’s website. The event features other Bond lots, including first edition copies of both Diamonds are Forever (1956) and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963), among other pieces. The live auction begins on Saturday, April 18th at 10:00 AM CDT.