2013 Holiday Gift Guide | Whitmore Rare Books

It’s no longer whispers of tinsel around the corner and the faint ringing of silver bells in your ear—the holiday season is upon us in full blown force, a hurricane of happiness and a tornado of gift giving cheer kicking off with the ‘official’ start to the season this week…that is Thanksgiving, not Black Friday.

And so begins that slightly panicked butterflies in your belly emotion that comes around once a year—the pressure to buy the perfect gift, the urge to give someone something they will truly love and cherish, the overwhelming fact that you have not in fact planned in advance and Christmas is once again just one month away. Well, skip the generic gift cards and cookies that quickly grow stale and aren’t appreciated after the waistlines have expanded—this year make an impression. Give an unforgettable gift.

Just a few of the collectible titles for sale at Whitmore Rare Books
Just a few of the collectible titles for sale at Whitmore Rare Books

Rare books are not found at the mall or online at Amazon, nor are they typically the first thought that pops into your head when brainstorming present ideas. But they are actually kind of the perfect gift to give to someone important in your life, bibliophile or not. Even if you’re not interested in reading that particular title or if you’ve read it 100 times before there is something fine and wonderful in a first edition.

It’s a very personal present. Books say something about the gift giver as much or more about the person receiving the gift—it also makes us appreciate the time and effort put into the gift instead of just the money spent.

You can almost always find a corresponding book to someone’s interests – with a little help from our friends at Whitmore Rare Books. Whitmore is a luxury rare book specialist that works as a sort of book concierge helping you find whatever you’re looking for whether it’s an exact title or just a vague idea of a persons’ passion and what they might fancy on their shelf…like a first edition of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in excellent shape (no butter or wine spills on the pages!) for the Julie & Julia fan or French cuisine fanatic.

First edition, phenomenal condition copy of the classic Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol available at Whitmore Rare Books
First edition, phenomenal condition copy of the classic Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol available at Whitmore Rare Books

You’re letting someone know that you know what’s important to them and you’ve taken the time to think about what they would really like. That’s what matters most.

Finding gifts for someone who is apparently very content with everything they own is a very difficult job, made even more difficult when they can literally afford anything they want. The key is figuring out what they never knew they wanted. And for the art collector, books in general are beautiful as physical objects. In the same way people collect art for the beauty of the painting people also collect books for their gilt design or the art of the dust jacket or the illustrations inside or even the typography or paper on which it’s printed.

We had a chance to catch up with Dan Whitmore about one of their most desirable and sought after titles this season, a stunning first edition of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol in phenomenal condition (MSRP $28,500…for a VERY important person in your life). Everyone knows that A Christmas Carol is a classic – but what created the staying power that has made it a classic for more than 150 years now?

Dan told us, “This was his baby. Charles Dickens ran the production of this book from start to finish, it’s effectively a self-publish. Dickens decided he wanted extra gilt work on the covers, the illustrations were hand covered…there were little details that were different than his books with publishers before.

The book was released officially December 19th and there were 6,000 copies of the first edition that sold out within a day. This was developed as a gift book for Christmas and more than that it really influenced our modern conception of what the Christmas holiday is all about – friends and family, giving gifts, getting together, sharing a meal, that whole holiday cheer aspect of Christmas to a large extent was jump started when Dickens developed and wrote this book.

Because of the success of this book the Christmas holiday went from being a somewhat somber religious holiday to a more secular joyful occasion. That’s an amazing thing to think about, the impact that this book had on a holiday in our culture.”

A Christmas Carol 1
Hand drawn illustration from the pages of Whitmore’s first edition of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol

It’s a challenging book bibliographically – very difficult to make sure you truly have a first edition, which Dan Whitmore can break down you for in classic ‘librarian’ speak and can assure you this is.

Dan also has a very friendly approach to the marketplace. “We want to make sure the book is perfect—if we don’t have it or can’t get our hands on it, we’re happy to connect you with a bookseller who can help. It worked for Kris Kringle! There is something in every budget. If you’re thinking I don’t want to spend more than $25 on a gift, you can still find a first edition. It may not be a first edition of Moby Dick but you can find rare books in different price ranges so you don’t have to necessarily shell out $1,000.”

Don’t lose the season to commercialism, gadgets and gizmos and unsentimental boxes that are soon strewn around the living room and eventually stuffed in a closet to Narnia. Even if you’re not buying for a hardcore bibliophile a rare book is the trifecta of the sentimental, historic and passionate aspect of an unforgettable gift.