For Your Eyes Only – Under the Hammer

An extraordinary collection of Ian Fleming manuscripts, first editions and ephemera go under the hammer at Sotheby’s on October 28th, 2020. The collection is entitled ‘James Bond: A Collection of Books and Manuscripts, The Property of a Gentleman

Of particular interest in this archive of treasure, relates to the dust-jacket of For Your Eyes Only, which includes correspondence between the dust jacket creator Richard Chopping, Ian Fleming and editor Michael Howard of the publisher Jonathan Cape.

(C) 2020 Sotheby’s

The draft work by Chopping reveals his famously meticulous approach and preparation to his designs and watercolour swatches. Fleming was keen to get the colour of Bond’s eyes the right blue and knew he was in the hands of a master who he could challenge and amuse at the same time.

Three draft watercolour drawings of eyes | (C) 2020 Sotheby's

Three draft watercolour drawings of eyes | (C) 2020 Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s notes that ‘Fleming was a great supporter of Chopping’s work: he was delighted with this cover and bought the finished artwork from Chopping for himself. His enthusiasm overrode the concern of Michael Howard, the editor at Cape who worked with Fleming, at Chopping’s escalating fees. Howard was reduced at one point to wondering who had paid Chopping 160 guineas for jacket art (“I would like to go and work for them myself.”)’.

(C) 2020 Sotheby’s

This jacket was unique in many respects, especially as Fleming provided text relating directly to his short story “For Your Eyes Only” to be included directly on the jacket. In the story, M sends Bond on a voluntary assignment, unconnected to sanctioned Secret Service duties to Vermont to avenge the murder of his close friends the Havelocks by Herr von Hammerstein, a former Gestapo officer who is the chief of counterintelligence for the Cuban secret service.

(C) 2020 Sotheby’s

Final cover for For Your Eyes Only

In a letter to Chopping, Fleming said “First of all a thousand congratulations on the new jacket. It is quite in your topmost class and Annie loves it also. You and I are really a wonderful team.” And indeed they were.

The estimate on this lot number 40 is £10k-£15k for those with golden fingers.

Incidental Intelligence

For Your Eyes Only; The Dust Jacket by Richard Chopping

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