Asbestos-bound first edition of Fahrenheit 451

Zack sez, "On eBay -- a first edition of Bradbury's anti-book-burning classic signed and numbered by the author -- and bound in asbestos, to save it from the firemen depicted in the book. Of course, no telling if that would save it from the Mechanical Hound..." It's in pretty rough shape, but it's a much-sought-after rarity (albeit one that should be kept in an airtight plastic bag). Bidding starts at $600.

Not only do we think this is this a first edition, but this appears to be the EXTREMELY RARE 1953 edition published by Ballantine Publishing Group that was bound in Johns-Manville Quinterra, a chrysolite asbestos material. This edition was limited to 200 copies, each signed and numbered by the author. This is copy #109 of 200.

This edition did NOT originally come with a dust jacket, so that is not a missing item here. However, the book is far from mint. As you can see from the pics (and please do study those closely, and ask ANY questions you may have ahead of time!), it has the following "issues":

-The spine binding is missing. Now, the spine is still intact and there are no loose pages, and pages still turn and read easily. But having a professional restoration should be considered for future preservation

-There is staining and aging on the front and back cover (both outside and inside) as well as some browning on the pages closest to both covers. But that dissipates a few pages in and the interior of the book is pretty clean and solid.

-In the lifetime of the book, the owner wrote his name on the top of the first page and put an address sticker on there as well (wouldn't you want this copy returned if you ever lost it?)

Now, since we are not experts on any of this, the item is absolutely sold "AS IS". But based on our research this copy is not only a legitimate first edition, but is very rare and sought after as well. In addition to all of the information matching up to true, verified first editions of this version (color of cover, font text, publication date, signature, numbering, lack of dust jacket, etc), as you can see this in the pic of the "table of contents page", this version also contains the two short stories not found in later versions.

FAHRENHEIT 451- mega rare 1953 Ballantine asbestos bound first edition #109/200 (Thanks, Zack!)

Notable Replies

  1. bryan says:

    Normally the lack of a dust jacket wouldn’t dissuade me from purchasing a rare first edition. But in this case...

  2. Is asbestos dust a factor?

  3. Asbestos dust is the very worst stuff. It drifts about and gets inhaled.

  4. Oy. Did I say the book was a problem? No, I did not.

    The mechanism of asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma is believed to be mechanical, and is well understood to be effected through inhalation of the fibers. Asbestos dust is composed of short, extremely light mineral fibers that drift in the air and are easily inhaled. Smoking dramatically increases the risk associated with asbestos inhalation, and (as with all cancers) genetic factors are believed to influence the risk as well. This is all completely non-controversial, and well understood, and abundant documentation is available to you if you have an Internet connection, which is why my previous post was so brief. The less airborne versions of asbestos, like house shingles, are basically safe enough to eat - it's the dust that's dangerous.

    Edit: removed possibly unwarranted snark, including cites from 1899 and ancient Rome.

  5. Sure, as long as you never opened the bag. I guess a coat of something like polyurethane varnish might do the trick, if you wanted it more readable and less collectible. But honestly I don't even know if the book's cover is a dust hazard in real use; I was just responding to rattypilgrim's specific question. Well encapsulated asbestos that is not subject to abrasive wear is not dangerous.

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