The Potterers Club, A Cycling Novel, by Lacy Hillier, pub. Gale and Polden, no date [c. 1900 according the British Library] 230 pages, plus 10 page publishers catalogue. Illustrated with a mix of b/w photographs and drawings by Starr Wood.
Brown cloth titled in black, couple of grubby marks to rear cover, fore-edge of front board with touch of darkening caused no doubt by exposure to damp at some stage, light 'tidemark' to front endpapers confirms this and the exposure has subsequently affected the foredge of the pages throughout giving them a crinkly feel, however having noted this cosmetic issue, it is by no means as bad as one might imagine. None of the pages, which have a silky feel are sticking and the exposure to moisture has not damaged the book beyond the slight 'crinkliness' and the very faint 'tidemark' to the first few pages, mainly the endpapers. really, a pretty decent copy of this fantastically rare title which is not only a cycling but a crime novel, too. No inscriptions.
Hillier was an athlete who wrote several books on cycling from that point of view. The book is so rare it is not even mentioned amongst his writings on most biographies. The story - I have actually read it - concerns the pursuit of a jewel thief and burglar by a private investigator with a cycling background, who enlists the help of an ex racing cyclist to catch the thief. Towards the end the racer pursues the thief - also a cyclist - on a chase through the countryside. The book digresses - to the detriment of the narrative tension, I have to say - on more than one occasion into a mock ghost story and a parody of an Ancient Egyptian novel - the latter of which is actually rather amusing. A good editor would have cut the book down but it is what it is, a real oddity. The crime element element comes toprominence as the book goes on and the investigator, Shap adopts various disguises to pursue his prey. Several of the clues that he picks up are based on his knowledge of cycling; for example the pattern of a footprint suggesting a cycling shoe.
Both for the collector of Crime & Detective and the collector of Cycling books this is a rare title. I have never seen it before and I doubt I shall see another. The high start price reflects its rarity.