First editions of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and aviation history in Usher’s January sale

Much to appeal to literary and aviation enthusiasts at Meath sale

More than 1,000 books, stamps and aviation ephemera, including first editions of works by Aldous Huxley and Emily Brontë, as well as a collection of Irish aviation first-day covers, are to be sold at an upcoming sale.

Ending this Monday is the second part of the Jim Gammons Collection, currently open through Ushers Auctioneers in Meath.

Gammons, born in Wilkinstown, Co Meath, graduated from UCD as a civil engineer in 1952. Excelling in the arts, he also had a love for Meath football. Reading and collecting books were his passions, and when he retired, he penned numerous books including Virginia – Then and Now, and Murder in Croke Park.

With more than 1,000 lots, the online sale has books, postal history, stamps, coins and notes along with other ephemera from Gammon’s collection and three other private libraries.


Included are two first edition (with dust jackets) copies of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (€1,500-€2,000 apiece). It was banned in Ireland when it was first published in 1932 due to its controversial themes, including drug use and sexuality, and was among the 673 books banned in classrooms last year in Florida under governor Ron DeSantis new state law, along with Catch 22 and The Color Purple.

Huxley’s dystopian novel, listed in the Observer at No 53 in the 100 greatest novels of all time, and No 5 in Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century, Huxley’s dystopian novel has also been adapted to theatre, radio plays and both film and television series.

Wuthering Heights, the first and only novel by Emily Brontë, which was first printed in 1847, is represented by an early edition from 1858 (€200-€300). What makes this copy of the romantic novel special, is that it was published under Brontë's pseudonym Ellis Bell, and comes with Agnes Grey by Acton Bell (Anne Brontë), which has a preface by Currer Bell (Charlotte Brontë).

Of interest to those with a penchant for aviation, is a collection of Irish aviation first-day covers. It includes a signed letter by Jean Batten, regarding her flight from Australia to England.

New Zealand aviator Batten made a number of record-breaking solo flights across the world. She’s remembered for completing the first solo flight from England to New Zealand in 1936, and flying from England to Australia in under 15 days in her Gipsy Moth biplane. Her father had refused to pay for flying lessons, deeming it inappropriate as a career choice. Instead, Batten flogged a piano, told her father she had enrolled in a music college in London, joined the London Aeroplane Club and received her pilot’s licence in 1930.

Another trailblazer featured is Oliver Philpot, whose signed card is among a mixed lot of airmail-related postcards. The RAF pilot is best known for being one of three men to successfully escape from Stalag Luft III, in a getaway known as The Wooden Horse. A vaulting horse used by allied prisoners concealed their escape by hiding a man inside. They moved the piece of exercise equipment each day to the same spot near the perimeter: the man dug a tunnel underneath, while his fellow prisoners jumped over the horse. Three allied prisoners escaped, including Philpot in this remarkable tale, which was later made into the film The Wooden Horse.

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