Auction of 1,000 Mountaineering Books

A man from Bootle, West Cumbria, who spent his life climbing mountains and collecting mountaineering books is putting the bulk of his library up for auction on Thursday 20 November.

Eighty year old Stuart Kaye became interested in mountaineering as a teenager inspired by the Mountaineering Association’s rock climbing course leaders and by the walking holidays he enjoyed in the Lake District.

Going on to tackle hundreds of mountains, Stuart Kaye’s claim to fame was being one of a group of four climbers to receive a grant from the Everest Foundation. The £100 helped fund their expedition to Norway in 1956 and made national news.

Mr Kaye says his love of books and mountaineering has seen his collection grow, over a 50 year period, into a library of over a 1,000 tomes. His first books cost pence with subsequent ones costing shillings and eventually pounds.

Spanning over 100 years of mountaineering history, they cover biographies and autobiographies, novels and specific mountain range studies. Key titles include: a signed copy of Joe Simpson’s ‘Touching The Void’; a signed copy of Don Whillans & Alick Ormerod ‘Don Whillians Portrait of a Mountaineer’; Heinrich Harrer’s ‘The White Spider’ translated by Hugh Merrick; and Hermann Buhl’s ‘Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage’ translated by Hugh Merrick.

1818 book expert Rob Kerr with six key titles from the collection

Eighteen Eighteen Auctioneers, who are selling the books at their J36 Rural Auction Centre saleroom in South Lakeland, expect the collection to make up to £6,000. Some titles are estimated to realise as much as £300-400 whilst others should attract more modest bids of £50-£100.

Mr Kaye says it is difficult to name a favourite book but cites the ‘old classics’ as the ones he enjoys the most. His tip for those new to collecting is to always buy the best copy you can afford as quality volumes hold their value well. Whilst his wife enjoyed climbing when younger, Stuart’s children are not interested in the collection which is why he is putting it up for auction.

Born and raised in Holmfirth in Yorkshire Mr Kaye moved to Cumbria’s West Coast 43 years ago. In his early twenties he was a coal miner, following his father and grandfather into the industry. After leaving for medical reasons he went on to be an engineer and then taught.

Rob Kerr, Eighteen Eighteen Auctioneers’ antiquarian book expert, says large private collections like these rarely come onto the market.

“This amazing library represents a life time of collecting by someone with a real love of mountains and the outdoors. There are some very fine examples. It’s been a pleasure spending time with Mr Kaye and cataloguing them in readiness for the sale. We expect quite a lot of interest from UK and international buyers and some of the books may even catch the eye of people here for the Kendal Mountain Festival (20-23 November).”

For more details of the auction at Junction 36 Rural Auction Centre, Crooklands, near Milnthorpe, Cumbria and how to bid online please visit the website or call the auction room on 0845 812 1818. The online catalogue should be available from Friday 14 November.

Also included in the sale is a selection of oil paintings and watercolours depicting various mountain scenes.

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