Where can I buy Kit Williams’ books?

Kit’s two puzzle books, Masquerade and The Book Without A Name/Untitled, are currently out of print, but you can find used copies in varying conditions on AmazonAdvanced Book ExchangeBibliofind, and eBay. The small paperback Masquerade: The Complete Book with the Answer Explained is also out of print, and has now started to climb in value.

Intrepid puzzle solver and creator Stephen Parkes offers some tantalizing info for collectors: “Kit released a limited editon of the solution book to Masquerade; it was limited to 1,000 copies, each was bound in royal blue cloth with guilt edging. Each copy was signed and numbered by Kit. [250 of these were reserved for purchase through the Sunday Times.–Dan] Also, I have managed to aquire is the PRE-publishers copy of Untitled; it is the same in every respect as the published copy, except it is a paperback, with a blank white cover and back. The dustjacket is the same also except it says on the back that the competition was to be drawn from the hat from all correct answers received. But we know that to be different from the final produced book.” This hardcover edition of the solution book is the rarest edition of Masquerade, and copies only appear on eBay infrequently. Prices generally start at $250 and go up from there.

A collection of Kit’s work, Out Of One Eye: The Art Of Kit Williams, was published in 1986. It features many pre-Masquerade works from the mid-70s, including triptychs, marquetry, globes, the Orrery, and the “Box” which he used as a calling card in his early days. Every piece features commentary by Kit himself, explaining the work and its original context. Once again I recommend AmazonAdvanced Book ExchangeBibliofind, and eBay.

Kit’s most recent book, Engines of Ingenuity, was published in 2001 (2002 in the US). I bought the book happily expecting “just artwork.” However, the presentation of that artwork certainly is cryptic and, in some ways, oddly familiar. No mere picture book, the images (paintings, photographs, wood inlays, metalworking) are loosely tied together through what’s essentially half a story–and of course, the missing half does leave the reader wondering. The narrative is about inventors and how they come upon their ideas (or vice versa), so the theme of intellectual curiosity is prevalent throughout. You can order a hardcover edition directly from Gingko Press, you can get it as a paperback from Amazon US or Amazon UK. You’ll also want to check out the interview with Kit that the publisher posted on its website. The editor’s note at the end is interesting–it says Kit only exhibits his works once a year “in his own studio.”

There’s one other book worth mentioning, in that it wasn’t written by Kit, but rather about him. As the witness for the jewel’s burial, British historian and television presenter Bamber Gascoigne was the only other person who knew the secrets of Masquerade during the hunt. As a result, he was uniquely qualified to write a post-mortem about the whole Masquerade phenomenon; his Quest for the Golden Hare is an absolute must-read for anyone wants a serious deep dive. The book details not only the complete solution and every riddle in the text, but also tells about Kit’s own background, exactly how he constructed the riddle and how it evolved, what happened when the world submitted to “lagomania.” Bamber also takes a close look at a handful of the millions of lives the book affected–some for the better, a few for the terrifyingly worse. It’s the definitive history of Masquerade, and I recommend it extremely highly. You can find used copies at AmazonAdvanced Book ExchangeBibliofind, and eBay.

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