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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Mt Everest and the Himalayas

When collecting books on a subject such as this, there is the double-pleasure of not only collecting the fine and the antiquarian artefact -- namely the book itself -- but also in collecting a small piece of the wonderful story. The story of ‘the conquest’ of Everest (as it was so often referred to in the early literature) is one that still captures our imaginations to this day, with its many individual tales of heroism, bravery, and sadly, loss. Even to the present day there are mountaineers who have caught what is called ‘summit fever’ for the world’s highest peak, and it is easy to see why the mountain remains a fascinating part of our collective human imagination.

Going back to my earlier pointm, however, there is a double pleasure in collecting books on the world’s highest peak. We don’t only have to look for the most daring of tales, but also to the very fine body of rare books that encapsulate them. Take for example, The Great Plateau (1903) by Captain C.G. Rawlings, who recounts two expeditions through Tibet, with the second tale ‘The Gartok Expedition’ featuring Everest. This very fine volume in attractive blue-cloth bound hardcover is one of the earliest available accounts of the Tibetan plateau, at a time when few of the Western world even knew of its existence. A wonderful addition to any collection of the art and history of human exploration, and is available currently (if you are quick) at under a thousand dollars!

Similarly, the collector of the rare and interesting might take interest in the William Hunter 1908 recounting of his expedition Ice-Bound Heights of the Mustagh which offers another similarly personal and immediate account of mountaineering history at a time when the perils were far greater than they are today. A true first edition of the same would have to have a very find hard cover, with its cover illustration of a mountain scene in good order. A good specimen might be worth up to a thousand US dollars, but can be found at auction for less.

Lastly, what can be said about collecting books about the Himalayas without referring to Sir Edmund Hilary and, of course, Sherpa Tensing Norgay. There are many fine editions of the tales and autobiographies of Hilary’s ascent up Everest, but a special note for collector must be reserved for Malcolm Barnes’s 1977 revelatory After Everest; An Autobiography not of Sir Hilary of course, but of Sherpa Tensing. The book itself is too recent to be of great collectible value, unless you manage to find one in very fine condition with Tensing Norgay’s characteristic and unique lightning bolt-style signature. If so signed, then a true first edition of After Everest in good condition would also be worth around a thousand US dollars at auction.

Rawling, Captain C.G. The Great Plateau. Edward Arnold: London (1905). Full title-The Great Plateau: Being An Account Of Exploration In Central Tibet, 1903, And Of The Gartok Expedition 1904-1905

Bullock, Fanny. Ice-Bound Heights of the Mustagh. Constable and Co. Ltd (1908). Other author-William Hunter Workman; Full title-Ice-Bound Heights of the Mustagh: An Account of the two seasons of Pioneer Exploration and High Climbing in the Baltistan Himalaya

Bruce, Charles Granville. Twenty Years in the Himalaya. Edward Arnold: London (1910).

Howard-Bury, C. K. Mount Everest the Reconnaissance 1921. Longmans, Green and Co.: New York (1922). First U.S. edition

Bruce, Charles Granville. The Assault on Mount Everest 1922. Edward Arnold: London (1923). Introduction by Francis Younghusband

Norton, E.F. The Fight for Everest 1924. Edward Arnold: London (1925).

Noel, J.B.L. Through Tibet to Everest. Edward Arnold: London (1927). First U.K. Edition

Ruttledge, Hugh. Everest 1933. Hodder and Stoughton: London (1934). First U.K. Edition

Ruttledge, Hugh. Attack on Everest. National Travel Club: New York (1935). First U.S. Edition; 3-D glasses included in rear pocket

Shipton, Eric. Nanda Devi. Hodder and Stoughton: London (1936).

Ruttledge, Hugh. Everest: The Unfinished Adventure. Hodder and Stoughton: London (1937).

Hunt, John. Ascent of Everest. Hodder and Stoughton: London (1953). Foreword by HRH Duke of Edinburgh; Other authors Alfred Gregory and Ed Hillary

Noyce, Wilfrid. Ascent of Everest. Himalayan Committee (1953).

Hunt, John. The Conquest of Everest. E.P. Dutton: New York (1954). First U.S. Edition; Signed by Edmund Hillary (contributor); Foreward by Duke of Edinburgh

Hillary, Edmund. High Adventure. Hodder and Stoughton: London (1955). First U.K. Edition; Signed edition; Illustrated by George Djurkovic; Maps by A. Spark

Norgay, Tenzing. Man of Everest. George G. Harrap and Co.: London (1955). First U.K. Edition; Signed by author; Other author J.R. Ullman; Full title-Man of Everest: The Autobiography of Tenzing Norgay

Hillary, Edmund. East of Everest. Hodder and Stoughton: London (1956). First U.K. Edition; Other author George Lowe

Roberts, Dennis. I'll Climb Everest Alone: The Story of Maurice Williams.. Robert Hale: London (1957).

Lowe, George. Mount Everest. Oxford University Press: London (1963). Translated by E. Noel Bowman; Other authors Toni Hagen, Gunter-Oskar Dyhrenfurth, Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, and Erwin Schneider; First U.K. edition; Full title-Mount Everest: Formation, Population, and Exploration of the Everest Region

Ullman, James. Americans on Everest. Lippincott: Philadelphia (1964). Signed edition; Full title-Americans on Everest: The Official Account of the Ascent Led by Norman G. Dyhrenfurth

Hornbein, Thomas F. Everest: The West Ridge. Sierra Club: San Francisco (1965). Edited by David Brower

Norgay, Tenzing. After Everest. Allen and Unwin: London (1977). Full title-After Everest: an Autobiography by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa As Told to Malcolm Barnes