New England Book Auctions has finally posted its catalog for sale 465 on Sept. 26. It includes as lot 169 a 1973 British first edition of Strong Opinions allegedly inscribed, signed, and crudely lepidopterized by Nabokov to Martin and Diana Shuttleworth in 1974. (

We’ve been through this before. See my previous postings about the Shuttleworths: Signed/inscribed/lepidopterized books (not just by Nabokov) to any member of the Shuttleworth family are almost certainly fraudulent. But some dealers and auction houses continue to peddle them as the real thing.

Not all, though. James O’Sullivan writes that

A few months ago I corresponded with a very well-known London antiquarian dealer who had offered up a Mishima with the Shuttleworth provenance. They withdrew it from sale immediately, but really should have known better.

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A Beckett collector has written to me to point out that many bogus book signatures and inscriptions, including those of Nabokov, appear to emanate from Australia. And that some sellers use Julian Jebb (a British arts journalist who died in 1984) as the provenance source of the books.

The collector wrote:

[The sellers] are based in NSW, Australia and their eBay ID history looks like this:

therepository Jan-03-17 – Present
jebboroam May-15-15 – Jan-03-17
worthingness Mar-12-15 – May-15-15
keramikoz Jan-21-11 – Mar-12-15

Several things should be pointed out: therepository mentioned above is still active; it has a 100% positive feedback since 2011, probably because buyers still aren’t aware that they may have been taken in; 17 of the varied 17 books therepository has listed on eBay today claim to be signed; but, the seller never explicitly says they were “signed by” the authors.

My correspondent collector also wrote:

I have been advised that if anyone is taken in by this fraud, and the seller is based in Australia, that they report it to the local fraud office – depending where the item was sent from.

New South Wales:

Fraud reporting forms for other territories can be found online. Apparently eBay will only take action against these sellers if this is escalated through legal channels.

An additional eBay seller is socrates349.

On the other hand socrates349 seems to have a fairly clean looking eBay account, lots of feedback with none of it bad and their ID has not been changed since 2003 (and that would appear to be because they used their email as their seller ID). I would suspect they are downstream of the scam and are likely unaware of it’s workings – as you pointed out many other dealers have been taken in by these books and the Shuttleworth provenance can be now seen beyond eBay.

I think given the long history of these forged books coming from Australia, I’ve come across quite a few mentions online, it’s likely the person behind it is known to the Police or at least local book dealers as they potentially have tried various avenues to offload their creations.

Last of all, New England Book Auctions (again) is offering an inscribed and signed 1973 British first edition of Strong Opinions (on Sept. 26, sale number 465, lot 169) with a “UACC Member certification provided”. I haven’t seen the book or its inscription yet and can’t judge its authenticity. In any case, UACC (Universal Autograph Collectors Club) membership certification means nothing. Anyone can become a member for $29. And that anyone can say that a particular signature is the real thing. We’ll see.

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Two dealers are offering six allegedly signed/inscribed/lepidopterized Nabokovs on eBay. I’ve written about fraudulent copies inscribed for “Martin and Diana” before. See my postings of 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 27 April 2016. Also, one of the sellers has attached a supposed letter of provenance for the three paperbacks. That letter is as dubious as the sorry lots themselves.

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New England Book Auctions is reoffering a Putnam Lolita inscribed to Nabokov’s cousin, Sophie Nabokov (estimated at $1000/1500) in its auction on January 31st.



The details are here:

I wrote about its previous appearance at NEBA on 26-Oct-2016:

Lolita, Putnam’s, 1958 (A28.2), eighth printing, in very poor dj, with VN inscription and butterfly to a cousin, Sophie Nabokov, dated 1-Mar-1959. Est. $800–1200, sold for $1100. This copy is now being offered by Wootton’s Books in Worthington, MA, for $6500.

This appears to be the real thing and not fraudulent (unlike some Nabokov inscribed books recently offered by NEBA).

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I apologize for the recent multiple-day downtime of “All About Vladimir Nabokov in Print”. My hosting service detected slews of spam emanating from the server and had to take it down until I could install tighter security and clean up the malware. Everything now appears clean and intact. Welcome back.

Laura is back.

The 138 index cards comprising the manuscript of Nabokov’s final uncompleted novel, The Original of Laura, are back on the market. Forum Auctions, a new London auction house, is offering the manuscript at its inaugural sale on 13 July with an estimate of £60,000 to £80,000 (about $78,000 to $103,000, depending on which day you check the falling pound sterling).

Forum’s auction page is here.

The Nabokov manuscript has a depressing sales history. It was first offered by Christie’s New York, on consignment from Dmitri Nabokov, amid much hoopla and speculation in December 2009 as the book was being published by Knopf. It then had an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. But it was bid up to only $280,000 and failed to reach its reserve.

Less than a year later in November 2010, Christie’s London offered the index cards with an estimate now lowered to £100,000 to £150,000. They did sell this time for £78,050 (about $100,000 at that time), premium included.

Soon after, the manuscript showed up in the catalog of Philobiblon, a Rome book dealer, for €180,000 (somewhere around $150,000 at that time). Philobiblon is in partnership with Forum.

To see my blog postings about the selling of the Laura manuscript, search under “Laura”, “auctions”, and “manuscripts”.

With the latest estimate at about one-fifth of the original in 2009, maybe Laura will now find a home in an institution or on the shelf of a collector. But I think not. In five and a half years, Philobiblon couldn’t move Laura. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have the cachet of Lolita or even Pnin. She occupies almost no space in the Nabokov cultural imagination.

Here are the draft pages for translations in Serbo-Croatian. Twenty-five of Nabokov’s books have been translated into Serbo-Croatian and issued in 60 editions.

A note about Serbo-Croatian: It is one term for the primary language of four of the countries that were once part of Yugoslavia: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. Today, however, within each of those countries, speakers identify their languages as Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. For the sake of the bibliography, though, all translations emanating from those countries (and their previous manifestation as Yugoslavia) have been grouped under the one language name, Serbo-Croatian.

In Serbia Serbo-Croatian is written in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. In Croatia it is written only in Latin and in Bosnia it is written in both. In Montenegro it is also written in both, but with the preference for the Latin alphabet.

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Here are the draft pages for translations in Persian, also known as Farsi. Fifteen of Nabokov’s books have been translated into Persian and issued in 24 editions.

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An inscribed Nabokov book—but with no butterfly—with an extremely strong provenance will be offered in June by a major New York auction house. Its estimated sale price range will certainly reflect its provenance. I won’t have details until next month. This is the kind of item whose provenance stands in sharp contrast with the lots of dubious provenance recently sold by New England Book Auctions.

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Swann Auction Galleries is offering at its May 18 auction a slightly unusual copy of a 1955 Olympia Press first printing of Lolita. Each volume of the two-volume paperback edition is enclosed in a kind of dust jacket that the catalog describes as “[publisher’s?] photographically reproduced dust jacket with printed spines and back panels (‘Printemps * Paris * Primavera’ lettering repeated)”.

Supposed dust jackets for Olympia Press Lolita being offered by Swann Auction Galleries on May 18.

Supposed dust jackets for Olympia Press Lolita being offered by Swann Auction Galleries on May 18.

I’ve never seen any kind of dust jacket on this edition of Lolita or even a mention of one. The catalog says, “…it isn’t hard to imagine the publisher producing these as a way to slip Lolita past the censors, due to the book’s already notorious reputation.” That assumes that the covering was produced after Graham Greene praised the book at the end of 1955 (more than three months after its publication) and after the brouhaha over the book began a month later.

I doubt that this supposed dust jacket came from the publisher. Why would the French publisher print a band in French and Italian for an English language book? Or is it a generic Olympia Press covering? Never seen it before on any Olympia Press output, in particular the Traveler’s Companion series. Also, it is not unusual for a bookseller to wrap a book in covering of its own design. Or maybe the owner of the book made it himself and wanted to protect his copy.

The volumes themselves are in near fine condition. The Swann sale is #2416; the lot is #311.

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