It's even better when you discover that the inscription was written by the author and signed for a personal friend.
It's much much better when the book in question just happens to be a first edition copy of an extremely important work by one of the C20th's greatest authors.
Can it get betterer?
Oh, yes it can. Ted Mahsun's dad found this copy of Time for a Tiger in a second-hand bookshop in Ipoh and snapped it up for just two ringgit. The inscription reads:
Lilian SivaramI checked for a similar edition, signed by the author and found one via abebooks.com currently on sale from Jonkers Rare Books in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, U.K.
Price? (Don't faint!) US$2695.13 (RM9,157)
Ted's copy won't be worth as much as it is missing the dust cover and has been nibbled by some naughty bookworms. But still.
But it's the inscription that intrigues. Who is/was Lilian Sivaram?
I consulted the oracle at my finger tips and turned up this reference to an article simply called Malayan Teachers Reunion by D. Maheshwari from the of the New Straits Times (City Advertiser's Happenings section), Feb 22, 2001.
I don't have access to the NST archives so if anyone reading this post does have, could you help us to find the picture referred to so we can see what the lady looks like?
If this is indeed the lady, then she was a teacher, possibly a colleague of Burgess at MCKK.
Burgess did give copies of the book to his friends. Ted's uncle, one of my favourite people in the whole wide world, says that he received several copies of the book himself, but he left them in storage and they got stolen.
Anyway, the moral of the story is 1) poke about in second-hand bookshops because you never know what treasures you may uncover 2) invest in hardback first-edition books and store them carefully, and then get them signed if you can track the author down. Because I doubt that even gold or diamonds would give you such an amazing rate of interest.
But then, would a true book-lover be able to part with a treasure like this??