LONDON Shaken by the gyrations of the financial markets? Maybe a look at James Bond memorabilia as an investment would stir your imagination.
Experts say the value of 007 memorabilia has shot up, not least because of the world premiere on Wednesday of "Quantum of Solace," the eagerly awaited new Bond movie starring British actor Daniel Craig.
At the top end are 007's cars, most notably a 1965 Aston Martin driven by Sean Connery in "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball." The gadget-laden car fetched more than a million pounds ($1.6 million) at auction in the United States two years ago.
But there are less pricey ways of owning a piece of Bond memorabilia.
Due to the spy's enduring popularity, there is a high level of collector interest in original Bond movie posters, and their value has risen dramatically over the past decade.
Original British posters advertising "Dr No," the first of the action-packed films, can fetch between 5,000 and 7,500 pounds, depending on their condition.
A decade ago, they could have been snapped up for just 100 pounds, according to Bruce Marchant, co-owner of The Reel Poster Gallery in London.
"Prices for Bond film posters have risen quite dramatically over the past 15 years," Marchant told Reuters. "The market is huge, and while the prices sometimes stabilize, they've never gone down."
Bond film posters have a loyal fan base, mostly in Britain, continental Europe, the United States and Japan.
"Many people buy them because they love them and never sell them again," he said. "It spans about three generations with 22 Bond films now."
First editions of Ian Fleming's Bond books are also sought after as collectors' items.
"Fleming first editions perform extremely well at auction," said Philip Errington, deputy director at Sotheby's in London.
A first edition of the first Bond book "Casino Royale," published in 1953, is expected to fetch between 9,000 and 12,000 pounds at Sotheby's literature sale in December, said Errington. Two decades ago a similar edition might have fetched just 1,000 pounds.
"To own a first edition of 'Casino Royale' is the be all and end all for a Fleming collector," Errington told Reuters, adding that the condition of a book and dust jacket are key to determining its value.
Bond first editions by Fleming are particularly collectible, said Errington, because there are only 14 volumes (12 novels and two collections of short stories).
Other 007 editions, such as "You Only Live Twice" and "The Man with the Golden Gun" can be bought for as little as a few hundred pounds because they had very large print runs.
That means they are less likely to appreciate as much in value as those editions published in much smaller runs.
(Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato)