Sunday 9 June 2019

Jack Barclay Bentley Hosts James Bond Exhibition; Including Two of the First Bond Cars

For a week this June, the famous ‘JB’-emblazoned doors of Jack Barclay Bentley in Mayfair – the world’s oldest Bentley showroom – will come to represent another ‘JB’; the world’s most famous secret agent, James Bond.

From 11th-16th June, Jack Barclay Bentley will be hosting a free exhibition of James Bond rarities, including original Bond cars, in partnership with Peter Harrington Rare Books.

In amongst the precious artefacts, visitors will be able to see key moments from the genesis of the James Bond story, including a first edition, first impression Casino Royale book – the first ever appearance of James Bond – signed by Ian Fleming himself.

Valued at £135,000, this magnificent presentation copy is inscribed by Fleming to the employer who gave him the means to write - James Gomer Berry, 1st Viscount Kemsley - and his second wife, Edith: "To Gomer and Edith, wishing them both always a nine when it is needed, and in memory of ten happy years of playing with and against them across the green baize. From Ian."

From some of Fleming’s earliest work on Bond to arguably his last, Peter Harrington Rare Books will be supplying a corrected typescript of ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, used as the setting copy for Fleming's last Bond novel. Fleming's text was sent to the typists in batches between 15 April and 16 June, and three sub-edited typescripts were completed by 24 June.

This is one of those copies, presumably that which was sent to Fleming on 25 June and which, with Fleming's light revisions, was then sent to William Plomer at Cape on 1 July. Fleming was not satisfied with the text and planned to revise it in Jamaica the following year so he did not wish the typescript to be circulated within the wider editorial team.

Fleming's health, which had been poor for some time however, was in rapid decline and he died on 12 August. This typescript therefore almost certainly contains Fleming's last ever work on James Bond, and is valued at £175,000.

Pom Harrington, Owner of Peter Harrington Rare Books, said:
"Bond has been at the forefront of book collecting concerns for decades now, and a large part of that fascination stems from quite how intriguing a man Fleming was in his own right. 
"A lot of the character and quirk that Bond is known for in the novels relates directly to the author himself, and it's impossible to ignore comparisons between the two, not only in the way he thought of himself, the world and the people in it, but in his pursuits and preferred luxuries. 
"Bentley is a prime example of the latter, and we're delighted to be collaborating with Jack Barclay Bentley for this exhibition."

And the venue –  Jack Barclay Bentley in Mayfair – is even more fitting than you might think; the very first James Bond cars – from the Ian Fleming-penned novels – were Bentleys. In among the precious books and manuscripts, you’ll find examples of the first two Bond cars; a Bentley 4.5-litre Blower and a Mark VI.

Fleming revealed in interviews that he had put Bond in a Blower because he liked him to ‘use dashing, interesting things. ‘Although his choice was also no doubt in tribute to Fleming’s friend, Amherst Villiers, who helped to develop parts of the design of the 4.5-litre ‘Blower’.

Bond drives the ‘Blower’ for the entirety of the first book, Casino Royale, but writes it off while chasing Drax in the second book, Moonraker. Bond quickly replaces it with a Bentley Mk VI, an example of which will also be on display at Jack Barclay.

Jack Barclay Bentley has a unique connection to the Bentley brand, with its namesake considered as one of the original ‘Bentley Boys’. In fact, Jack Barclay himself drove a Bentley 4.5-litre to victory in the 1929 Brooklands 500, setting an average speed of more than 107mph.

The showroom retains many of its original features, including the iconic chequered floor, wood-panelling and art deco signage.

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