top of page

How to spot 'Frankenstein' books - Part 2

Last week we highlighted some general tips about how to spot first impression James Bond books that might be paired with later jackets. This week we look into some specific titles and what to be on the look-out for:

If last week's blog whetted your appetite for how to spot 'Frankenstein' books - those with later dust jackets that are masquerading as first impression ones - this week we turn our attention to what look to out for on specific James Bond titles:

Casino Royale - 1953

Casino Royale is one of just a handful of Fleming books that has the added complexity of having an additional ‘state’ of jacket.

The first state jacket's front flap features a 16-line synopsis of the book, followed by a single dropped line of text that reads: 'Jacket devised by the author.' (see left). The rest of the flap below is blank, save for the 10s 6d price.

Halfway through the first impression print run Jonathan Cape wanted to add a favourable Times review to lower portion of the inner front flap. Existing first impression jackets that had already been printed by Western Printing Services were sent to a different printer, Jarvis Printers, and over-printed, with the new Times review (left).

Tell-tale signs these already-printed jackets were re-run through a new printing press can be spotted by the new black ink not quite matching the existing printed synopsis. Also, because existing jackets were re-inserted into a different machine, sometimes the paper was not loaded straight, and the over-printed portion is a little skewed.

All of this means Casino Royale first impressions can legitimately be referred to as being either of the 'non-Times review' or 'Times review' variant. Most collectors would prefer to have a non-Times review jacket. Jon Gilbert (Fleming bibliographer) notes that a "maximum of 3,000" of the 4,728 bound-up first impression print run have these. Gilbert says the remaining 2,400 first impression jackets were overprinted, meaning first impressions with two different jackets can simultaneously be described as such.

Confusingly, an entirely different second impression jacket was also designed - one that carried 10 newspaper reviews to the inside print flap. But because this jacket wasn't ready in time for books ready to be bound, some were housed using left over Times review jackets. It was only when these ran out, that the 'ten-reviews' jacket was used.

So there are theoretically two different first impression and two different second impression jackets (the Times review one, and the ten reviews one) – but some of the Times review ones went on first impression books too.

What this means: Because the 'Times review' jacket was used on both first and second impressions, collectors often have to make a leap of faith and decide for themselves whether any first impression book they see with a 'Times review' on it is actually one from the first impression 'batch' (ie from the second half of the first impression print run of books), and was originally paired with this jacket, or whether someone's taken a jacket off a second impression book and is trying to make it look like a first impression.

Back of the envelop maths says around two-thirds of the overprinted jackets were bound with first impression books, and the remainder (around half of the total second impression print run) was used for second impression Casino Royales.

All of this might sound a bit pernickety, but it's the sort of thing that matters to collectors. They want to know for sure they have a correct jacket, but now, if they see a first impression Casino Royale, with a Times review jacket, it could be original to the first impression, but it could come from off a second impression book that trying to pass off as being a first impression jacket.

Collectors will often look to see if wear to the jackets correspond to wear to the boards. If they do not, you could be looking at a jacket from a second impression book that's been unscrupulously added to a jacketless first impression book to pass it off as a complete 1st/1st.

The only way to truly be sure you have a first impression and correct jacket is to have an example without the Times review.

Note: On the back of all Times review first and second impression jackets, there is an added line on the back saying 'the author,' under the picture of Ian Fleming. This was added because it wasn't clear who the person illustrated was! Non-Times review jackets do not feature this.


Live and Let Die - 1954

This is a 2nd state jacket, with a 'floating' artists' credit

A staggering three ‘states’ of first impression jacket exit for Live and Let Die – mostly to fix the original omission of designer Kenneth Lewis on the first state one.

The second had his name overprinted on the front flap, but looked odd floating in the middle, (see above), so this was moved on the third, to be directly under the front flap information.

These differences matter. The third state jacket is exactly the same as those used on second impression books, meaning a first impression book with a third state jacket could really have a second impression jacket to make it look like a first.

To be 100% sure you have a first impression book without a second impression jacket swapped onto it, you need to aim to buy those with either first or second state jackets. These jackets were only ever used on first impression books. A first impression book with one of these first two states ‘will’ definitely have a correct jacket.


Diamonds Are Forever - 1956

A quick glance at Diamonds Are Forever can be a costly mistake.

First and second impression jackets are strikingly similar, with near identical front flap book summary and price (12 6d) information.

Even though there is a gap of two years between a first and second impression, its at-a-glance similarity can invite a second impression second jacket to double for a first impression one.

To fully determine its status a fuller inspection of the back flap of a second impression jacket is needed. This will reveal reviews of previous books up to and including 1958’s Dr No (which obviously didn’t exist in 1956). There is also a discreet illustrator’s credit on the front flap that was missing from the first impression jacket.

If someone is trying to sell you their book and not sending pictures of the flaps there is one tiny remaining point of difference. On the back of the DJ, a first impression jacket has two lines on their own directing readers to the back flap for reviews of Live and Let Die and Moonraker (see pic above left). On a second impression jacket, this often-missed two-liner disappears.


Dr No – 1958:

It’s surprising how often one vital difference between first and later edition jackets of Dr No is missed – but missed it is!

On a first impression jacket the authors name - ‘Ian Fleming’ – runs up the spine of the dust jacket in black type, whereas latter impressions have it in white.

The change was quickly made after Cape realised the black wording was difficult to read against the dark brown of the rest of the jacket. It means all later impression jackets carry this same whitened wording.

Books commonly come up for sale claiming to be a genuine 1st/1st, but have a first impression book covered in a white lettered (ie later) jacket. But, despite sounding and obvious spot, it’s still easy to miss, because as the spine inevitably darkens through sunlight exposure, even the once-white lettering has a tendency to turn a dark and dingy brown, making it hard to tell apart from a first impression jacket.

This is the vital difference though, as the inside price on the front flap is the same on first and second impression jackets.


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - 1963:

Notable for being the first book to be published after the spectacular cinematic debut of James Bond in 1962 film Dr No, Jonathan Cape wanted to capitalise on the film’s success by printing no less than five impressions during 1963 – the most of any James Bond book in a single year.

Due to all of the 1963 editions having the same price (16s), this title is a particular target for better-condition, later, impression jackets being swapped onto first impression books. While little can be done to spot an over-placed second and third impression jacket (for they are identical in every way), handlers should look out for a subtle difference on 4th and 5th impression 1963 jackets - which came towards the end of 1963.

On the back cover of the DJ, where it lists previous book, From Russia With Love, there is an all important – but often missed - change of text underneath this book’s title.

A 4th or 5th impression jacket will say that From Russia With Love is ‘Now a highly successful film’. That's because it had just just appeared in cinemas - see top left). This is unlike the line ‘To be filmed during 1963’ which appears in 1st and earlier impressions (see picture bottom left).

Spot the difference!

Because the first impression of On Her Majesty's Secret Service came out in April 1963, (ie before the film From Russia With Love had been released), any OHMSS claiming to be a 1st with 1st impression jacket but with the words ‘now a highly successful film’ isn’t.

A true 1st/1st must have the line ‘To be filmed during 1963.’


Octopussy & The Living Daylights:

There was only one impression, so in theory, all jackets are first impression jackets.

However, purists will often want one that has a price of 10d 6s on the front flap (see left). But this isn’t always what they can be presented with.

Given this book had very slow sales, most feature a later over-stuck price that went on top of this – normally a metric price. These are less desired.

But sometimes sellers will try and remove this sticker, to try and pass it off for a 10s 6d one, so watch for signs of sticker removal in this area.

119 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page