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SHELLEY, Mary. Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, Revised, Corrected. (1831 - FIRST PRINTING OF THE THIRD AND FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION) | Image: D&D Galleries

Editor’s Letter: Man of Many November 2023

It all started with a copy of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. I was 18 and rummaging through the bargain bin of the local vintage store when I stumbled across the leather-bound novel, torn and tarnished from a lifetime of wear. Its weathered pages, still replete with the scent of old Stephens ink, told a story of unimaginable horror, of a fatherless creature cast out into the world with no place to call home. As I looked upon the book, buried deep beneath a sea of old scarves and cracked leather belts, I recall feeling a strange sense of irony. That this book, once revered as a classic had too been cast out into the abyss, unwanted by its former owner.

Call it intuition or merely a sense of literary duty, but I felt compelled to give this Frankenstein a new home. I immediately picked up the book, gave the clerk my $3 in coins and carefully began turning its ancient pages. It wasn’t until I got home and checked the faded edition notice inside the front cover, that I realised my latest purchase was, in fact, a rare 1931 film copy produced to publicise the then-upcoming Boris Karloff adaption. It was worth thousands. And in an instant, I was hooked.

In the decades that have passed, I have often forgone the bright and shiny for old and tarnished, lured by the romantic notion that what is old can be reborn again. This past month, the world has seemingly agreed, proving that what is old is no longer just new, but also highly-coveted.

In November, we saw a relic from the past unearthed in an unlikely spot, with the ‘world’s oldest whisky’ discovered in a hidden cellar in a 750-year-old Scottish castle. Its lineage may remain a mystery, but the same cannot be said for the 1962 Ferrari 330 LM / 250 GTO that was just dragged from the archives and onto the auction block, fetching a cool $51.7 million in the process. Even the ultra-affordable Seiko Speedtimer panda-dial that was unveiled this month had a decidedly vintage tinge to it. 

It must be said, however, that for every second-hand store Frankenstein, there are a million more hidden gems that go undiscovered. More one-of-a-kinds are destined to be unearthed, more relics to be unfurled and more hindsight heartache to be had. If there is one lesson I have picked up on my antique adventures, it is that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to pay ridiculous amounts for it.

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Editor-in-Chief, Man of Many