The Most Valuable Book In Your Collection

I am speaking to you from the humidity controlled, fireproof safe at the British Library. As you have been dead for over a century, while I am only a little stiffer in the hinges and a little more browned on the title page, I suppose that the way you abused me must be forgiven. But I cannot forget the decades on the undusted bottom shelf, with the old magazines heaped on top of me and my back cover exposed to the burning sun light each summer, although when I arrived here an expert lovingly straightened out my crooked back and gently removed the dust from my cloth.

To you I was of no interest; you sent other volumes like me, from your upper shelves, to the charity shop, or even the recycling, but as the years went on you didn’t come down to the bottom shelf much, other then to throw another handful of those blasted magazines on top of us.

When you finally died we were sent to auction immediately by your loving heirs. ( Your prized first editions, by the way, made next to nothing). The auctioneer didn’t want us, but took us with bad grace, to get the polished calf from the shelves above us. We bottom-shelvers were all thrown together in one lot, a couple of dealers noticed me and bid the lot up to a modest sum. Your heirs blew the proceeds of the sale on a Caribbean cruise and a new conservatory.

After being offered to the British Library for a pittance and declined, I changed hands rapidly; I was now upwardly mobile and the quality of my shelving improved at every move. For a decade or two I came to rest on the shelves of a discerning collector, and was occasionally taken out and shown, with due reverence, to envious rival collectors. Eventually this good friend passed on, to a better place I am sure than you have gone to, and I came up at auction again.

This time I was the star: not chucked in a bin, ‘with circa 100 others, as seen’, but on my own - lot 27- kept in a locked case, and displayed my a porter, wearing white gloves, at the auction.

After fetching a tidy sum I was offered to the British Library again, for as many thousands as the small number of pounds, for which they had declined me before. And this time they jumped at me, and even distributed a press release about me.

Now for my revenge. Look hard on your bottom shelves, because you will never know which book I am.