A Climbing Bibliomaniac: Meeting Dave

© Nathan Rostron

Nathan Rostron presents David Price - the owner of a particularly impressive collection of climbing books...

Bibliomaniac or just crazy about climbing? Most probably both...

During our first conversation, my mind was fully engaged by Dave’s enthusiasm about his collection of around four thousand books that all relate to rock climbing or mountaineering in one way or another. Perhaps what is even more astonishing is the fact that this collection has been put together in just four years! It may be strange to say this, but after that conversation I knew we’d get on fine, as you’d have to be a little bit mad to achieve something like that.

Dave and his collection of climbing books...  ©
Dave and his collection of climbing books...

Many moons later when I got to see Dave’s collection, I couldn’t help but stop and stare in awe to soak up the presence of something most likely ‘one-off’. This surely must be one of the finest private collections in the country. The attention to detail throughout this collection is evident; everything has a destined spot and is placed with reason and care. Oh and if it’s rare enough, it gets put behind a glass door and the really special books get a bonus see-through bag for added protection.

In the beginning

Ok. So let’s take a step back and find out how it all started:

David started climbing in 2011 and joined Lancashire Climbing and Caving Club. His climbing partner, Murray Gallagher, drilled it into him that guidebooks were an important part of his rack. Essentially, one should study all the available information about the chosen crag and routes they were to undertake before embarking on their climbing adventures.

Initially David purchased Lancashire Rock, which is also referred to as “The Brick”; anyone who owns a copy will know why this nickname is appropriate. However, after several months of climbing and investing in a dozen or so necessary guidebooks, it became apparent that the thirst for more information on un-visited crags and anything climbing-related became more than just a fun pass time: it became Dave’s new book addiction. 

The Turning Point

The turning point from becoming a conventional climbing book buyer to a climbing librarian was when Dave found an advertisement on the Internet. After buying forty or so books from a member of a Mountaineering Club, Dave was made aware that the club was to sell part of their collection – the key word here is ‘part’. However, as the addiction grew within him and coupled with the fact he doesn’t do things by halves, he was quick to act on this potential once in a lifetime opportunity and enquired with the club if they were prepared to sell their entire collection! So rather than taking one or two books off their hands, Dave was now taking home his first bulk purchase of around 450 books to add to his now growing obsession. Twelve months later, the collection grew by an additional eleven hundred book purchase from a private collector. This second massive single purchase took over a year to negotiate and two large cars to transport the books to Dave’s home – now that’s dedication! 

How does one know the value of their books?

Like any collector, it's always helpful when you have something or someone who knows the value and rarity of what you’re collecting, right? So what can be used for climbing books? Well, who’d of thought it, there’s a book just for that job:  The British & Irish Climbing Guidebooks 1894 to 2011 A Collectors Guide by Alan Moss.

He understandably uses this climbing bible religiously and even has gone so far as creating his own extra reference system to keep track of not just the condition, but whether the book is signed, the purchase price and where it came from. The importance of this book cannot be understated; therefore Dave keeps two identical copies just in case one is left in a bookshop whilst on his travels. Like any avid collector, this will most likely be used as reading material before bedtime.

What we’re all dying to know is does Dave have a most prized possession?

Well here’s one of them taken from his Cockerel Books Facebook page, which I felt needs to be mentioned:

Lliwedd 1946 Climbers Club 
The word exceptional does not spring to mind until you turn the title page. The inscription, Mr Don Whillans, Goodshaw Lane, Rossendale. One of Mr Whillans' personal guide books which formed part of his library. Dave’s remarks on this book: “One of the most expensive books purchased but I had to have it, a very special item.”

So what of the future?

As for the future, not only is this book collection going to gain mass and potentially require new floor boards, but he recently started to collect original guide book drawings and has around seventy to date. Even more exciting is that one day in the future, Dave is hoping to present a free exhibition displaying all this artwork in the collection beside some rare guide books. Personally, I’m very excited at this prospect and I think it would go down a right treat in the climbing world.

Lastly, I would like to finish by saying that by now you may have gathered that this chap rather likes gathering books from every nook and cranny. As you would imagine, finding books that he doesn’t already have on his shelves has become ever more difficult over time. Moreover, Dave is most happy when he’s able to develop his collection in any way he can. Therefore, if you have any surplus books lying around that you would like to sell, swap or shift, then dig deep and get in touch with the man himself. He has also developed quite the appetite for signed books too, of which he has over three hundred.

Who knows, if you’re keen enough, you may even have the chance of a guided tour of this very special collection too. 

“I love to share the collection, when I do it amazes me just what I have. My last guest was a pleasure, on entering my library their jaw physically dropped”.

You can contact David by email: davidprice5252 [@]

Visit Nathan's blog and Facebook Page.

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31 Mar, 2016
Whoa, this guy has more guidebooks than Rob Greenwood!! I know who I'll be emailing if I need to borrow a guidebook... Also... would be interested to know how many he actually uses. As a bit of a guidebook lover myself, I feel it is such a shame to see an unused guidebook... I even wrote a few words about how much I love guidebooks for the excellent Nectar site:
Words cannot express my envy...
31 Mar, 2016
You better watch you're back David... Rob's gonna get ya!
31 Mar, 2016
Stunning - love his Facebook page
31 Mar, 2016
Sod the guidebooks, he's got a D1 BSA Bantam
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