The Last Word on First Editions

January 26th, 2010

Matthew Haley is a books and manuscripts specialist at Bonhams & Butterfields in New York. A recent arrival to the United States from the United Kingdom, Haley is not just in the book business, he’s an avid fan of books—from their physicality and design to the literature and poetry between their covers. Recently we spoke to Haley about first editions, the difference between first editions and first printings, and some of the most collectible titles and authors on the market today.

Strictly speaking, a book’s edition refers to the setting of the text. So the first time you set the text and print a book with it, and then sell a bound book that you’ve just printed, that’s the first edition, first printing. If you use the same setup of text and print it again, that would be the second printing—a printing is therefore a subclass of an edition. The printing is also called the impression, as in first or second impression.

The first edition in book form of "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens was published by Bradbury and Evans in 1850 and featured 38 engraved plates between its red Morocco gilt covers.

The first edition in book form of “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens was published by Bradbury and Evans in 1850 and featured 38 engraved plates between its red Morocco gilt covers.

In general, the first edition, first printing is known simply as the first edition, but I don’t think the nomenclature or the way an edition is identified in a book is entirely standard. Normally when a book is labeled as a first edition, it is accompanied on the copyright page with numbers from 10 to 1. Sometimes they are literally presented as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Some publishers will order the numbers in slightly odd ways. But basically, the standard interpretation is that if a book is identified as the first edition and the numbers only go down to, say, two, then you are looking at the second printing or second impression; if they go down to three, then it’s a third printing; and so on.

With first editions, we are usually talking about the first publication of a book in the writer’s country of origin and language. Otherwise you have to qualify it by saying “first American edition” or “first edition in English.” In most cases, when a book is described as the first edition, then it usually means the first edition of that book in the author’s language.

It also nearly always means the first edition of that book in the country where the author resides, but there are exceptions. For example, a British author might not have had any success in the U.K. but then finds an American publisher. So you might get a British author who published first in America. That will vary author-by-author or even book-by-book.

Collectors Weekly: Are first editions in the country and language of the author typically more collectible than subsequent editions in different countries?

Haley: Yes. Essentially what the collector is looking for is the first public opportunity to buy this book anywhere. It’s always first, first, first, first, first. Even for U.S. collectors, if a book appeared in the U.K. first, then that’s the one that will be most sought after.

Collectors Weekly: How desirable are proofs and advance copies?

First editions of James Bond novels are highly prized, but this 1956 copy of "Diamonds Are Forever" also has a personalized inscription: "To Rica, who wrote it, from Ian Fleming."

First editions of James Bond novels are highly prized, but this 1956 copy of “Diamonds Are Forever” also has a personalized inscription: “To Rica, who wrote it, from Ian Fleming.”

Haley: For some reason they often don’t have as much value as the actual first published edition. I think it’s partly because it’s often difficult to know how many were issued—I think it’s often a lot more than one might assume.

Also, proofs and advance copies generally don’t have dust jackets, and they’re usually printed as paperbacks. Thus, they lack the iconic and visual appeal of a first edition. Generally speaking, they have maybe two-thirds to three-quarters of the value of a first edition. Unless, of course, it’s a proof with the author’s corrections on it. Then you are in a completely different ballpark.

Similarly, nearly all first editions are worth more if they’re signed, but this is probably less true of modern books. A lot of authors today do lengthy signing tours and appearances and that sort of thing, so the number of signed copies is not especially small.

Other authors are much less inclined to sign anything, so obviously their signatures are more sought after. Famously, Harper Lee, who wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird,” didn’t sign very much. The value of a signature may vary, but I can’t think of any situation in which an author’s signature has caused a book to be worth less.

Inscriptions can help or hurt the value of a first edition. I would say that “To Ben, Ray Bradbury” would perhaps be very slightly less desirable than just “Ray Bradbury.” But “To my dear friend Ben” is a little bit of an improvement, and “To my dear friend Ben, who inspired me to write this book” is much better!

Collectors Weekly: So the content of the inscription can affect a book’s value?

Haley: Yes, and the person’s relationship to the author. That relationship becomes part of the provenance. Such books are what we call association copies. If the person to whom a book is inscribed has some importance to the author, then it’s an association copy. It might be from one author to another author who was very influential in the first author’s writing, or from one author to a family member, or a friend from college, or something like that.

In part, an association copy helps give collectors peace of mind that the inscription is authentic, but it really just makes the book that little bit more unusual and curious than a regular signed copy.

Collectors Weekly: Which American classics are most sought after?

A first edition of Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale" from 1851 would be a cornerstone of any collection.

A first edition of Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale” from 1851 would be a cornerstone of any collection.

Haley: We’ve already discussed “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and there’s “Moby Dick” and “The Great Gatsby.” Those are all five-figure books in first-edition form. Anything that’s a household name is going to be the most sought after, really. Books that have been turned into classic movies like “Gone With the Wind” are also desirable. Genres also have their followings. Crime, children’s books, and sci-fi are all their own collecting fields, and each has a subset of collectible authors within it.

This brings us to the different types of first-edition collectors. There are people who want the classics in first edition—in other words, the classic books regardless of who the author is. But there are also people known as completists who want the complete works of a given author in first edition, including rare juvenilia stuff published when they were children. The most obvious form of completist in book collecting is someone who wants to own all of the James Bond books by Ian Fleming, or perhaps all of the James Bond books, including those written by Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis, and Sebastian Faulks.

P.G. Wodehouse is another favorite of completists. The approach is not limited to authors, particularly. How one collects books is as varied as people’s tastes. But collecting by author is one way for a collector to express his or her affection for a given writer. It’s probably slightly easier to complete a collection of first-edition Ian Flemings than Hemingways. Also, Ian Fleming has that boyish movie tie-in as well, which is quite good fun.

Collectors Weekly: Do movies always make first editions more valuable?

Haley: It depends on how classic the movie becomes. The Bond movies are unquestionably classics. Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” became “Blade Runner.” That movie is considered a classic, but in a sense the book was already there, so either way it’s going to remain collectible.

One recent circumstance that comes to mind is Philip Pullman’s “Northern Lights,” part of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, which had a sudden peak in terms of their value in auction. After the film “The Golden Compass” came out, the peak dropped off slightly. So I think it’s quite a difficult thing to try and predict.

Collectors Weekly: I suppose “Harry Potter” is in a class by itself?

Haley: In terms of “Harry Potter” by J. K. Rowling, the first edition was the Bloomsbury edition, which was printed in London. We’ve definitely seen big interest in that. At times it would be making £9,000 sterling, I think, or even £12,000 at one point. And the effect of that was that further down the chain, people were paying a few hundred pounds for a paperback that was signed. So when you have a situation in which the first edition is worth so much, then it will trickle down so that the less desirable editions still end up being worth some amount of money.

Collectors Weekly: What about other children’s books?

Collectors love "Winnie-the-Pooh" first editions for both A. A. Milne's words and E. H. Shepard's illustrations. These copies are from (left to right) 1926, 1928, and 1927.

Collectors love “Winnie-the-Pooh” first editions for both A. A. Milne’s words and E. H. Shepard’s illustrations. These copies are from (left to right) 1926, 1928, and 1927.

Haley: Maurice Sendak is always of interest, his illustrated ones particularly. With children’s books, it’s a mixture of the story plus the illustrator, really. Sometimes the illustrator is more desirable than the author, sometimes it’s the other way around. “Winnie-the-Pooh” is a classic example of both coming together. E. H. Shepard’s illustrations of “Winnie-the-Pooh” (Shepard also illustrated “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame) are as iconic, really, as the text itself by A. A. Milne. Similarly, just about any title that includes drawings by early 20th-century illustrator Arthur Rackham is collectible. He tended to illustrate children’s books, including J. M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens” and a 1907 edition of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

People often ask me about science fiction, but it’s such a niche area. We actually don’t see a great many titles at Bonham’s. We get the occasional H. G. Wells novel and other sci-fi classics, but we don’t often see the more arcane parts of the market. For example, I don’t think I’ve seen anything by Isaac Asimov since I’ve been here, but I’m not quite sure why because Asimov first editions certainly are valuable. I would say that most of the sci-fi we sell is prewar, but there are obviously collectible sci-fi authors who are postwar.

Collectors Weekly: Are people collecting biographies?

Haley: Written in the modern age? Almost never. There are some biographies that are collectible from much earlier on, like James Boswell’s “Life of Johnson” from the 18th century. But I can’t think of any 20th-century biographies that have great value.

Collectors Weekly: So is fiction perhaps more sought after than nonfiction?

Haley: Not necessarily. There are other fields of writing that are potentially more valuable than fiction, like natural history, travel, science, that sort of thing. Biographies, history, and military writing are all generally less sought after than fiction. I think it’s just that the majority of what people read is fiction, and fiction touches people in a way that other forms of literature don’t.

Collectors Weekly: Do people collect cookbooks?

The first edition of J. K. Rowling's first novel was published in England in 1997 as "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." The U.S. edition appeared a year later as "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

The first edition of J. K. Rowling’s first novel was published in England in 1997 as “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” The U.S. edition appeared a year later as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Haley: Well, Julia Child aside, the earlier cookbooks, certainly. Anything earlier than 1800 or 1700 can have quite a lot of a value to it. One thing we started seeing recently was a massive growth in interest in manuscript cookbooks, which are people’s recipe books from the 17th century and before.

Most large houses of that time had a cookbook in which the cook or the lady of the house kept all their recipes, plus, perhaps, recipes from friends. These “household guides,” if you will, often contained medical remedies as well, which means you get these really strange juxtapositions. They were not published—they are more like one-of-a-kind manuscripts. But that seems to be a growth area.

As you move into the pre-Victorian period, you’re looking at Jane Austen—“Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” those sorts of titles. Once you get into the Victorian period, collectible authors include Charles Dickens, the Brontës, Nathaniel Hawthorne maybe. Toward the end of the 19th century, beginning of the 20th, you’ve got Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim,” and all the core people, the people you read at high school.

Collectors Weekly: Wilde also wrote plays. Is a good copy of one of his plays just as desirable as a copy of a book?

Haley: Yes, I think that would be true. Normally plays are not worth as much as novels, but Wilde is a bit of an exception—a lot of his published plays are valuable. They’re also very nicely produced examples of book design in the late 19th century. Wilde books often have very attractive bindings. Many were published as limited editions.

Toward the end of the 19th century, they started going in like mad for limited editions, signed and numbered copies, and special bindings, partly, perhaps, as a backlash against mass-produced industrialized printing that had developed during the 19th century.

Some of the bindings of Wilde’s books are very Art Nouveau in style, and occasionally there was also the Aubrey Beardsley tie-in—for example, Beardsley illustrated Wilde’s play Salomé. In that sense, Wilde books truly represent their time.

After Art Nouveau, in the first half of the 20th century, the big names are James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Pretty much any first-edition novel by any of those authors is a five- or six-figure book. Some poetry, too, T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” being a prime example.

Collectors Weekly: Is there a market for books from the mid-20th century?

This 1940 first edition of Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" is more valuable than most thanks to the author's signature inside.

This 1940 first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” is more valuable than most thanks to the author’s signature inside.

Haley: It’s quite a complex market because there are often some curious quirks about the printing in books published by Beacon, Grove, City Lights, and others. Some of those books were printed in the traditional sense, others were more like mimeographs, and then you get some, like the ones printed by City Lights, that have all sorts of what are called “issue points.”

This question of issue points actually relates to the modern first editions we were discussing at the beginning of this interview. Occasionally you have an edition of the text, and within that edition you might have various “issues.” This normally means that, for example, a typographical error has been corrected but the text remains broadly the same, apart from the one page where the typo was corrected.

One of the most famous examples of this concerns J. K. Rowling’s first book. On the copyright page, her name was listed as Joanne Rowling rather than J. K. Rowling. Fairly recently, people determined that the Joanne Rowling copies came first, and that it was corrected to J. K. Rowling when the author kicked up a fuss with her publisher.

The issue with J. K. instead of Joanne is not considered a separate printing, but because we can establish that Joanne came first, those copies are more desirable. Even if there are more copies in circulation that read Joanne, people still prefer it because it’s the first one.

Collectors Weekly: If someone has a first edition of Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” or Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” should they read it?

Haley: They should not read it, I’m afraid to say. At least, they should not read it in that edition. Go out and buy a paperback and read that. And if you have such a book, you should obviously look after the dust jacket as much as possible.

“On the copyright page, her name was listed as Joanne Rowling rather than J. K. Rowling.”

That’s one thing we haven’t addressed, the value of dust jackets, which is huge. It makes a massive difference. In a recent sale here at Bonham’s, we had two copies of “The Great Gatsby,” one with a dust jacket which we sold for $180,000 and one without which we sold for $3,000. That tells you how much value is in the dust jacket.

In the early days, dust jackets were literally “dust jackets,” kept on books in bookstores to keep them from getting dusty. Originally dust jackets were just typography on dull-colored paper. When people took a book home, the jackets were often discarded.

From the 1920s on, as publishing houses started employing designers and artists to produce decorative dust jackets, they used the jacket to market their books. Some people began to embrace the idea of keeping dust jackets on their books, but old habits die hard, so many people continued to dispose of their books’ dust jackets. That’s one reason why they are so rare.

Collectors Weekly: What advice do you have for beginning collectors?

Oscar Wilde's only published novel was "The Picture of Dorian Gray," which is one reason why even a battered first edition like this one from 1891 is collectible.

Oscar Wilde’s only published novel was “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which is one reason why even a battered first edition like this one from 1891 is collectible.

Haley: One of the advantages of pursuing antiquarian books, earlier books, is that you can see the age on it. It’s very easy to tell whether an old book is what it purports to be, or not. With modern first editions, it can be more difficult, particularly when it comes to things like dust jackets and signatures. Dust jackets can be restored or reproduced and sold as if they were originals. And with signatures, if you are buying from an unknown source, you are probably taking a chance that the signature is actually authentic.

In my mind, there are three approaches to buying modern first editions. One: Buy books you like right when they come out. In this scenario, you’ll be buying a first edition, in hardback, in a dust jacket, and you might even be able to get the author to sign it for you. Best of all, you’re not likely to pay more than $20 or $25 for it.

Two: If you’re buying more valuable and more collectible first editions, buy either from a reputable auction house, an established dealer, or somebody who’s got a long-standing reputation and belongs to a professional body of some sort.

Three: It’s always smart to buy first editions that you like but don’t have to pay very much money for. In this case, the risk is fairly low. I mean, if you manage to find what appears to be a first edition of “The Great Gatsby” in a cardboard box at a flea market for $5, then the worst that can happen is you’ve wasted $5.

Once you bring your first edition home, the only other advice I’d offer, apart from not reading it, is to keep the book, especially one with a dust jacket, out of direct sunlight. It can also be a good idea to dust the tops of your books now and again to prevent dust from getting embedded in the tops of the pages.

Collectors Weekly: As someone who loves books, how do you feel about e-readers?

Haley: I can see that they have their uses, and I’m curious about the idea of reading the book on screen. I tried out the Sony Reader, but you get these black flashes when you turn the page—that bothered me. My concerns with the Kindle are that I would drop it and that I can’t just stick it in my back pocket like I can with a cheap paperback.

As you say, I love books, the physicality of books, book design, and all those sorts of things. But the books I choose to read tend to be quite tired-out, second-time copies that I can throw around and just enjoy, without worrying about treating them nicely.

Collectors Weekly: So, what are you mistreating now?

Haley: At the moment I’m reading a lot of classic 20th-century American fiction. I studied English literature when I was in school in England, but it was literally English literature. I had barely read any American literature before I moved over here about a year ago, so I’m trying to make up for lost time.

I just read the most recent novel by Edmund White called “Hotel de Dream,” and before that I read “Bright Lights, Big City” by Jay McInerney, partly inspired by having read “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis about a year or two ago. I’ve also been reading Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, classic 20th-century American stuff.

(All images in this article courtesy Bonhams & Butterfields in New York)

88 comments so far

  1. Mary Stenseth Says:

    Dear Sir,
    I have an old cookbook called The Picayune Creole Cookbook. The cover is old and worn but not bent or broken. Inside, the cover is separated from the spine of pages. I think the first page showing the publishing date is missing (if it had one). The first page starts with the Introduction.
    Is there value to this book, being regional and cute to read with its post Civil War references to quality cooking Creole tradition?
    Thank-you for your general advice at this time.
    Mary Stenseth

  2. Anita Says:

    Dear Sir,

    I appreciate your thoroughness in explaining the particulars of book collecting.

    I have found what appears to be a First Edition copy of a Charles Dicken’s book, published in 1849. It has a leahter-bound spine and time has affected the leather to the point that the front cover has separated from the spine. Otherwise it is in great condition.

    My question is: How do I go about pricing such an item?

    Your response is much appreciated!

    Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Anita

  3. Shira Says:

    Dear Sir,

    We inherited from my grandmother her family’s Roaring Twenties collection of hardbacks. Most of these were printed in the 1920′s. Some of them say 1st edition, while many seem to have no edition of printing number. Most do NOT have dust jackets. There are collected works and what may be complete collections, as well as one that may be from 1888 – Thomas Carlyle, “Hero Worship”Limited edition, printed from stereotyped plates, April 1888. There is also a 10-volume DeMassupant set that seems to be signed, no inscription – I say seems to be signed as there is a signature but no r5aised feeling on the reverse.

    Where can I get more information / an appraisal? If you love books I want you to know that my parents have no room for them and they are currently being stored in the basement. Also my grandmother dusted them weekly – they had their own specially-built bookcase – but my parents, um, don’t.

    With thanks,

    Shira

  4. Barbara Says:

    Enjoyed the information on first editions. I have a book (Mark Twain’s Notebook) Albert Bigelow Pain, first edition 1935, it is in very good codition, it did not have a dust cover, all pages are in good codition, none mising, outside a little worne.

    Can you give me any information on this book, where I can get an appraisal?
    Also another Short Stories of De Maupassant, printed in 1941, Blur ribbon books, God and the Groceryman 1927 The McCall Company, and The Gown of Glory, Agnes Slight Turnbull, Houghton Mifflin Company Boston 1951 and 1952.

    Any information at all.

    Thanks.

  5. Kim Jaeger Says:

    Dear Sir,
    I have a first edition of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House (1853). My father purchased the book in London in 1964. It is in good condition, but I would like to know how to go about finding its value and the best way to preserve the book. Any information would be great.

    Thank you,
    Kim Jaeger

  6. Matthew Haley Says:

    Mary, Anita, Shira, Barbara, and Kim,

    Thanks for your kind comments on this piece.

    The best way to find out the value of a book is often to contact an auction house directly. If you would consider selling the book through auction, most auction houses will gladly have a specialist look at the book and give you an auction estimate for it, at no charge. Certainly if you were to email me at matthew.haley@bonhams.com, I would be delighted to do so. What we need is: author, title, year of publication or if there’s no year then the publisher’s name and location. Seeing photographs is ideal: a snap of the cover and title page is usually enough to go on.

    It’s a very approximate rule, but something to bear in mind is that many books published after the author’s death are of lower value – this most often applies to complete works or multi-volume ‘sets.’ But it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

    If you have a large collection of books, we normally suggest that you either select what you consider to be the top dozen or so, and send a list with the details I mention above, or if they’re in a bookcase, then take a ‘shelf shot’ with your camera and email a picture. If the titles on the spines are legible then we normally can get a preliminary sense of the collection.

    Sites like abebooks.com or vialibri.net can also be useful, but need to be used with caution and discrimination since they can often give misleading results.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  7. David Cross Says:

    I have a early edition Of Watty Piper’s “Little Engine that Could”.
    I know that it is not considered a First Edition because it has Trademark
    listed on front cover boards. The book,however, is listed as a “F” variant
    on some first edition literature, meaning it has a dual copyright 1925 and 1930 in Roman Numerals. My understanding is that my book was probably printed after 1930 but also that Platt & Munk dropped the dual copyright
    in early 30′s. My question then is how do I arrive at fair market value for this book? I have scoured on line book sources for this specific book and it is nearly impossible to find. I can find true “First Editions” all day long
    but not for the dual copyright issue. Does that qualify my edition as a rare
    and valuable book or just an older used book? Regards, David Cross

  8. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Mr Cross,

    What a mystery!

    One has to be careful to distinguish between variants of the text, and variants of the dust-jacket. Is it possible that your copy is the first issue of the book but the “F” variant of the dust-jacket? The first issue of the book itself should, I believe, have 14 leaves of text, a book list on the front free endpaper that ends with “The Little Engine That Could,” and two lines of identification (“Book No. 358″) on the cover.

    In essence the price will be affected more by condition than by the minutiae of variant points, I suspect. There are a few books where endless minute printing differences in later editions influence value (the Wizard of Oz books spring to mind), but for most collectors “condition is key.” If your copy is a first issue and has a bright, clean dust-jacket, it should be in the same ballpark as a ‘true first.’

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  9. Michael Gersh Says:

    Matthew,
    I came across three books entitled “The Writings of Oscar Wilde”. One is Essays, Criticisms and Reviews, the second is Epigrams and the third Intentions. They were published by A.R. Keller & Co., Inc. in 1907. The first page in the book states that they are a Collector’s Edition and that this set is one of 124 numbered copies. Do you think there anyone would be interested in them?
    Thank you.
    Michael Gersh

  10. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Michael,

    Some Wildeana! Wilde’s period is interesting from a book history point of view; in the 1890s and early 1900s, there was a huge fashion for limited edition books. With the onward progress of industrialization, books were getting cheaper and cheaper, but the companies involved saw an opportunity for a luxury market too.

    There are many limited editions from this period that are definitely sought after. (Disregarding inscribed copies, the highest-selling Wilde limited edition was one of 30 copies of “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” that once sold for $32,000.) On the other hand, there are many sets of deceased authors’ works that were marketed as limited editions but now have very minimal value – either because the author is now unfashionable or because collectors are focused on first editions only.

    To come to your three books, there are a few issues: firstly, they were published after Wilde’s death (he died in 1900); secondly, they are only three volumes of a set that in its entirety stretches to 15 volumes – incomplete sets and odd volumes are very difficult indeed to sell; lastly, in common with a lot of limited editions from this period, the edition was produced in various “limitations” and it may not be as rare as it purports to be. As far as I can tell, 1907 sets of Wilde’s works appeared in the following forms: 26 copies which have original watercolors bound in and sometimes a Wilde letter; 100 “Grande Luxe” copies; your issue limited to 124 copies; 200 “de luxe” copies; 200 “Uniform edition” copies; 450 “Florentine edition” copies; 800 “University edition” copies; and 1000 further “Uniform edition” copies. As you can see, what initially looks like a rarity is often not!

    In short, the main issue is that you have 3 odd volumes. A bookseller online is asking $148 for a single volume from the one-of-124 copies issue but he’s obviously still looking for a buyer since the copy is still listed online. In auction terms I would have thought each of your volumes might command only $30 or so depending on how attractive they are.

    Sorry not to give better news.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  11. Larry Current Says:

    I have a book called Printing Achievements 1926 leather bound maybe 3 inches
    thick 9 X 12 it has all different kinds and types of printing from that time in history

    I can send photos Larry Current

  12. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Mr Current,

    Thanks for your message. This is probably quite an attractive book, and the subject matter is quite commercial. That said, it sounds like quite a general book on the topic, and generally speaking the more specific, the higher the value. I would have thought it is less than $60.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  13. karen stewart Says:

    dear sir we havea 1952 charles dickens book “A TALE OF TWO CITIES” still in original cover in good condition. is it worth anything? thank you karen stewart

  14. Charity Jones Says:

    Dear Mr. Haley;
    I found a book on my mother’s shelf by Oliver Wendall Holmes, entitled Pages From An Old Volume of Life. The publishing company is The Riverside Press, and the copyright is listed as 1890. The spine is slightly loose and the cover is somewhat stained, but otherwise, the book is intact. There also seems to be some sort of notation written in ink on the inside cover with the city and a date of 1892. I have been unable to find out any information about this particular writing on the internet.Would you be able to assist me in identifying whether the worth deserves further investigation?
    Thank you in advance for your assistance,
    Charity Jones

  15. Cornelius Walker Says:

    Dear Sir,
    I read with interest your interview and I thank you for providing information on book collecting, something that has been quite a mystery to me for some time. I have a book I would love to find out more about, it is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, first edition. It has the dust jacket, but the covers are a bit bumped. My friend told me it should be worth around $50-60 – is this true? Or will it be more like $40-50 ?
    Thank you for your assistance,
    Cornelius

  16. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Charity,

    Thank you for your message. I believe this is a collection of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ essays. Unfortunately he’s an author who is rather unfashionable at the moment, and your book was published when he was right at the end of his life – usually the most collectable works are the ones published when an author was young and less well-known. The notes in the front cover are probably written by an early owner of the book, but since Holmes died in 1894 it is chronologically possible, albeit improbable, that it is his writing. In and of itself, it is a book that several booksellers online are listing at as little as $20 or so. Further research might add some value, but it is unlikely to jump significantly in value.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley

  17. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Cornelius,

    Thank you for your message. I’m afraid quite a few people own first editions of the more recent Harry Potter books: the size of the editions grew rapidly from a few hundred copies of the first book, to many million copies of the most recent. As such, your first edition really only has ‘used book store’ value, which I would place at about a fifth of cover price, or so.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  18. Theresa Mumenthaler Says:

    I was wondering if there is any value to the hardcover book “Little Christmas” by Agnes Sligh Turnbull with Decorations by James Lewicki – Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1964 signed “With Best Wishes! Agnes Sligh Turnbull”?

    Thank you.

    Theresa

  19. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Theresa,

    Thank you for your message. This writer is not particularly collectable, in the auction world at least. A bookseller online is offering a signed copy of one of her works with a letter by her laid into the book, for $150. That it is still available online suggests that the retail value is probably somewhat below that level. Without a letter and with just a brief inscription, I imagine the value of your book would be rather lower still.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  20. Rachael Choate Says:

    I have a 1961 “The New York Times Cook Book” which says “FIRST EDITION”. It has no dust cover and is dark grey and I don’t even know if that was it’s original binding. Does it have any value please?

  21. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Ms Choate,

    Thanks for your message. There aren’t a huge number of high-value 20th century cookery books (with the odd exception like Escoffier, Elizabeth David, etc.), and generally speaking the most valuable cookery books are from before 1800. There are a few 19th century ones like Mrs Beeton that are collectable. Really only a handful of 20th century cookery books are likely to be worth more than $100, and a post-war book like yours may only be a few dollars – not so much for a collector as for a cook!

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  22. Annie Simon Says:

    Hello Mr. Haley,

    I have a copy of Richard Wright’s NATIVE SON which says “first edition” and under that
    are the letters A-P. Could you tell me what that means?

    Thanks, Annie Simon

  23. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Ms Simon,

    This is a bit of a mystery. The first edition should have “New York” and “1940″ on the title page. The first binding used on the first edition was dark blue cloth, stamped in red, and with a yellow and green dust-jacket. The second binding it was issued in was grey cloth, and with a greyish dust-jacket.

    If your copy is in a grey binding, it is possible that it is a Book-of-the-Month-Club edition, and therefore not a ‘true’ first.

    If it has the dust-jacket and is the true first in first binding, and if the jacket is in very good condition, it could make over $1,000 in auction. I would be interested to see some pictures of the book – title page, back of title, binding and jacket. You could email them to me at matthew.haley@bonhams.com.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  24. Kathy Says:

    Hi Matthew! I have a copy of The Children’s Dickens – Stories Selected from Various Tales, published in New York and London by Hodder & Stoughton. There is no copyright page in this book, but no pages are missing, so it hasn’t been torn out. The only indication of how old it might be is on the inside front cover. Apparently given as a gift, it is dated Dec 25, 1910. Did some children’s books exclude a copyright page at this early date? I’m wondering how I could determine its value if I were to list it for sale. There are 9 stories and 8 beautiful full-color plates, as well as several other pencil drawings.

  25. Roasalyn Says:

    Hi Matthew!

    I have many old books inherited from my mother and grandmother and have learned that some may be valuable. I have an old To Kill a Mockingbird with Copyright@1960 by Harper Lee, CCN# 60-7847 and a “W” on the copyright page and a first printing of The Confessions of Nat Turner w/ CR, 1966-1967. Before I get too excited about these boxes of books, I’m asking you for your opinion on these two. Thank you.

  26. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Kathy,

    Thanks for your message. Dickens died in 1870, and Hodder & Stoughton are basically 20th century publishers, so we can be certain this is a posthumous edition. I would imagine that the 1910 date of the inscription is an accurate date for the book.

    The question of a “copyright page” is a good one. It’s a bit of a confusing term. Traditionally, all the publication details of a book appeared at the foot of the title page, although you might have a printer’s name somewhere else. Towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, publication dates, copyright dates, and statements of edition began to appear on the back of the title page; this is what people mean when they refer to the “copyright page.” As a result, if you were missing the “copyright page” you’d be missing the title page as well!

    There’s probably some text on the back of the title page in your book, but as you say it’s possible that no date appears. For books published before the Second World War, if no date appears on the title page, it’s generally a bad sign and usually an indication that the book’s not a first edition. No date on either the front OR the back of the title page suggests the same.

    Either way, your book is a ‘reworked’ version of Dickens, and thus not of huge commercial interest to collectors who would be looking for first editions of Dickens’ most popular works. Its value may only be a handful of dollars, I’m afraid.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  27. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Roasalyn,

    Thanks for your message.

    It seems like your To Kill a Mockingbird could be a first edition. Was it published in Philadelphia? And, crucially, does it have the dust-jacket (which has a photo of Harper Lee by Truman Capote on it)? With the dust-jacket, it could be $5,000-7,000+, without it is likely to be more like $1,000.

    Confessions of Nat Turner sounds like it is probably a first edition, but is unlikely to be of auctionable value – less than $500.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  28. Karen Says:

    Have come across “The Complete Poetical Works of Lord Byron” 1907 published by Macmilan co. of Canada, Ltd. , but also states at bottom of page: Norwood Press, J.S. Cushing – Berwick & Smith Co. Norwood, Mass.USA. No edition is stated and there are no numbers on this page. Could this mean a first edition but printed at two different printing presses? I am wondering if it is a desirable copy. I am a novice and I cannot find this anywhere by this publisher listed. It is hardbound and in fairly good condition, pages slightly yellowed, gold embossed.

  29. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Karen,

    Thanks for your message. It’s certainly possible that this book was published simultaneously in Canada and the US by two publishers working together. Byron died in 1824, though, and many of his most desirable works were published a good century before your book appeared, so as such even if your book is rare, it’s not going to be hugely collectable. It really has “used book” value, which is to say a handful of dollars in all likelihood.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  30. Adrian Says:

    I was just wondering if “THE LIFE OF OUR LORD” first publication anywhere in the world in THE SAN FRANCISCO NEWS by CharlesDickens were avaible how much would something like that be worth and is there even such a thing out there like? Or is it a myth? Because if it isnt I just might have something very interesting in front of me.

  31. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Adrian,

    Thanks for your message. Funnily enough I’d never heard of this Dickens first edition before! It seems that the story was unpublished throughout Dickens’ lifetime, and the lifetime of his children. But it did eventually make it to the press in 1934. I suspect that the first publication was in London, although it seems that a number of American newspapers (of which the San Francisco News was presumably one) printed it at the same time or very shortly after.

    Be that as it may, since it was published after Dickens’ death and is by no means one of his most popular works (unlike Oliver Twist or Great Expectations), it’s not going to have a particularly widespread appeal. A few fanatical Dickens collectors would want it to complete their libraries, but given Dickens’ fame it would have been published in huge quantities and may not be that rare.

    A curiosity, but in the auction market at least it is likely to be worth less than a hundred dollars.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  32. John Murphy Says:

    1.22.11
    Hello Matthew,
    I have a book that I hope you can help me determine the value of.
    it is a book on classic soda machines. authored by Jeff Walters. later editions and and paper back copies are sold for $ 48 to 50.00 used. The book I have is a hard cover, 1st. edition. book with a signed certificate of authenticity by Jeff Walters himself. 225 pages published by Memory Lane Publishing, Laguna Niguel, CA. Copyright 1992. I have searched the internet for other copies of it or if there were others that had the same (exact) all my searches yielded no results. that being said I feel it safe to assume that this may be the only copy of this book left. furthermore only 100 copies of this edition have been produced. numbered 1-100. The book I have is #43. and is in excellent condition. Thank you for your time and I hope you can help me put a value to this book.
    Many Thanks,
    John Murphy

  33. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear John,

    Thanks for your message. While it may be true that there are no copies of this limited edition for sale online, it’s also fairly unlikely that a book printed in 100 copies in the 1990s now only exists in one copy. It’s probably just that a lot of copies are quietly sitting on people’s bookshelves and thus can’t be traced online. As it happens, I think I have traced half a dozen copies in US libraries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/27750187).

    As for the commercial value of the book, it is likely to be limited by its extremely specific subject matter. Obviously there are classic soda machine collectors out there – enough of them that this book went into several editions – but it’s difficult to imagine a bidding war between those collectors that would push this book above $100.

    An interesting query, nonetheless! Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  34. Tina Says:

    What is the easiest way to determine a first edition from 41st edition. Even if say first edition doesn’t mean its a first edition. What about if the book only has one year in it does that mean that book is a first edition / first impression / first printing. I have more questions but I need to go. I’ll wait to see how ya answer these first.

  35. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Tina,

    If the book only has one year in it, that is usually a good sign. For a 19th century book, you would expect to see what date on the front of the title page; if the date is only on the back of the title page, that would often indicate it is not a first edition. For a 20th century book, the date could be on the front or back, but usually if there is only one date rather than several, that is a good sign it is a first edition.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  36. Barbara S. Says:

    Dear Sir

    I have a signed copy of hood’s poems, vol 1…M.DCCC.L.X….brocade hard cover..gold edge pages…Could you give me some idea of it’s worth….Edges of covers are worn,but book is in excellent condition.

    Thank You

  37. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Barbara,

    Thanks for your message. Thomas Hood died in 1845, and your book is from 1860 (=MDCCCLX), so the signature is either printed or a forgery. If it appears underneath a portrait of the author, then there is a 99% chance that it is printed.

    Thomas Hood is a poet who has not really stood the test of time, and as such your book is probably of value more as an object than for its collectible value. I would estimate it at less than $50, unfortunately.

    Many thanks nonetheless,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  38. Harry Bowron Says:

    I just stumbled across this website, but I may as well make use… I have a vellum-bound, manuscript cookery book from 1838, which I bought last year for £39. Would you be so kind as to tell me it’s approximate value? As you mentioned, the book has household tips as well as attributed recipes, all wrote in a beautiful hand.

    Also, what value would you give to a manuscript cookery book from 1718?

    In advance, thank you ever-so-much for any light you may shed on this matter, it’s much appreciated,

    Harry.

  39. lucille Says:

    I don’t mean to bother you but I was hoping you might know someone interested in the eulogy of gen. robert e lee in book form. It is enscribed from gen. a.r. lawton to his brother written in pencil. It is dated 1871 and tells how hard the city of savannah took the news of general lee’s death and everything they did from that moment on to celebrate his life and death. I hope this is not to much of a bother, probably nobody is interested. thank you though, Lucille

  40. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Harry,

    Thanks for your message. I think you did reasonably well with the 1838 manuscript cookery book, although it is difficult to see it going for more than 100 pounds in auction.

    A 1718 manuscript cookery book is quite a different kettle of fish (if you will pardon the pun). We have sold this sort of thing very successfully, sometimes for four-figure sums. If you are ever considering sending it to auction my colleagues in the UK would be most interested in hearing from you.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    matthew.haley@bonhams.com

  41. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Lucille,

    Thank you for your message about the Robert E. Lee item. I think this might not be an item for a tradition auction, but eBay might be a good place to sell it. Without seeing it, it is hard to know what it might sell for, but I imagine it could get into three figures.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  42. pam key Says:

    would like to know the value of my first edition “FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS” with jacket cover that is LIKE NEW, pristine condition. There is no fading, tears,creases or anything wrong – the book looks like it was just puchased

  43. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Pam,

    Thanks for your message. A really, really good jacketed “For Whom the Bell Tolls” should make getting on for $2,000. The first issue of the dust-jacket has no photographer’s name on it – the dust-jacket would need to be in that form. But I would be cautious about dust-jackets that are too good to be true: if it is truly mint, there is a chance that the dust-jacket is a more modern facsimile jacket; needless to say it is unusual for jackets to have survived 70 years without any damage.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  44. Christine Kenneway Says:

    Hello Matthew,
    I have a copy of Two Kill A Mockingbird with Dustjacket. The copyright date is 1960 by Harper Lee 6th Impression published by J.B. Lippincott Company Philidelphia and New York. It has a dust cover with a quote in green by Phyllis McGinley on the top fron flap and states 6th Printing on the bottom of same flap. The back inside flap has guotes from Shirley Ann Grau and Elizabeth Gray Vining as well as a bio of Harper Lee and a quote by Harper Lee about her interests in life. The back of the dust jacket has Reviews from Time Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times, KAnsas City Star, New Youk Herald Tribune and Chicago Tribune. I have not found any references to this particular edition and wonder about the value of this edition. The book itself as the name of a previous owner on the front inside cover but otherwise shows no wear. The dust jacket is in fair condition with the wear being around the edges. I appreciate any information that you might share with me.
    Thank You,
    Chris Kenneway

  45. Misty Says:

    I have The Golden Treasury of Song and Poetry by Henry T. Coates, copyright 1905 in fairly good condition considering it’s age and Bible reading for the home, Contributed by a large number of Bible students, Copyrighted MCMXIV,MCMXXV, and MCMXLII in London, England also in fairly good condition, no rips, tears, still has original binding. I would love to know the value of these books. Thanks for your time.

  46. Lori Says:

    Hi Matthew,
    I purchased a book from goodwill for only 1.99. It is a hard cover book, no dustcover, but the book is in very good condition and its also signed by the author and illustrator. The book is called “Milly and the Macy’s Parade” first edition with the numbers 1 through 10 and copy right 2002- this book is signed by Author Shana Corey and Illustrator Brett Helquist. I have looked on line and different websites give different quotes of the book-but not specific enough to my question-how much is this book worth with the signature’s?
    Thank you for your time in reading this.

  47. SBrooks Says:

    Hello,
    I have an Alice in Wonderland book that if you could provide an estimated value for would be wonderful. According to my research it’s a first edition but for the life of me I can not find the value for it anywhere. The things that lead em to believe this are the following:
    Big Golden Book for Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and published by Simon & Schuster 1951 copyright date.
    It has gold highlights on the cover under a clear coating, spine of book with the gold highlights says 426 on the top.
    Inside cover bottom left in black is stamped A100100 and all the pages have a blue ribbon type design with simple drawn shapes that look like flowers.
    Any thought you have on the book and its value would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
    SB

  48. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Chris,

    Thanks for your message about “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Unfortunately if it’s sixth edition or impression, many collectors will disregard it. A true first should make $6,000 or so in auction, but the value tails off very quickly with later impressions and a sixth impression might only be a tenth of that figure, or less. It might be worth trying it on eBay, though.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  49. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Misty,

    Thanks for your message about the Golden Treasury and the Bible Reading book. When it comes to poetry, collectors are almost always looking for publications by single poets, like T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” The Golden Treasury is an anthology or collection of works by various poets, and as such is not going to be of great value – probably only a handful of dollars unfortunately.

    As for the Bible Reading, Bible collectors generally seek actual Bibles, rather than books on or relating to the Bible. This book would have similar value to the last, I’m afraid.

    Many thanks,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  50. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Lori,

    Thanks for your message. This is a tricky one to answer. I imagine that the author and illustrator did one or more book signing events, so there may be quite a number of copies out there with signatures. It’s also a very modern book so a collector’s market may not have built up yet.

    I think my general rule would be as follows: books bought new obviously lose value initially, like a car; signed books, though, tend to hover around their original retail price, and may sometimes slowly accumulate value (for example if the author wins a major literary prize).

    So you might find that your book could sell for the original cover price, but it’s unlikely to gather significant value in the short term.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  51. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear SB,

    Thanks for your enquiry about your Alice in Wonderland book. The first of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books was published in about 1865, and Carroll died in 1898. Yours might be a re-issue, or it could be a sort of compendium put together by Simon & Schuster. Either way it is almost a century after the first publication, and so is likely to be valued highly by only the most fanatical Alice collector. I would guess that the value is below $20, unfortunately.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley

  52. Judy Trevino Says:

    I have a first edition of Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking. How can I tell if it was published in August or October 1961. It just says Copyright 1961 and at the bottom of the page it says FIRST EDITION. There is also L. C. catalog card number: 61-12313. Does that indicate a third printing, rather than first?

  53. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Judy,

    Thanks for your message. The “A Note About the Authors” towards the rear of the book should have a month there – August, October, or possibly November. That should indicate first printing.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  54. Carol Roberts Says:

    I have an edition of Mark Twains “Innocents Abroad”. It says 1869 on the title page printed by the American Publishing Co. , Hartford Conn. Illistrated and in good condition. Also “Life on the Mississippi”m 1883 on title age, James R. Osgood & Co, Boston. 300 illustrations. Copyright 1883, Samuel Clemens, Copyright 1974 & 1975 H.O Houghton and Co. Also”Huckelberry Finn”, Charles Webster & Co. NY 1885 Green cover, illustrated. Love to know the values of these books. Thank you.

  55. Carol Says:

    My mother in law has “The Poetical Works” of Oliver Wendell Holmes volume 1 – 4 Authors Edition printed in 1892 and also “Garden Poems” by E. Nesbit. It looks an original copy but I cannot see any date. Do these books have any real value.

    Many thanks

  56. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Ms Roberts,

    Thanks for your message about Mark Twain. It sounds like the “Innocents Abroad” probably is a first edition; there are several issues of this first edition, and the first issue has no page reference numbers on pages xvii-xviii, amongst other things. The first issue is the most desirable. Even so, unless it is inscribed it is not likely to be worth more than $500 in auction.

    As for “Life on the Mississippi,” it sounds like it might be a modern page-for-page facsimile of the first edition. Since it has copyright dates of 1974 and 1975, it would not be of great value unfortunately.

    The “Huckleberry Finn” could be more promising. It is a bibliographically complicated book, but if you were able to send me photos of the covers, title page, and back of title page, that would be a good start. My email address is matthew.haley@bonhams.com.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  57. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Carol,

    Thanks for your message about OWH and Nesbit. Unfortunately these are not likely to be of auctionable value, as the Holmes is a collected works (hence not a first edition of the poems), and Nesbit is not very sought after by collectors. They are both likely to be under $100, I imagine.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  58. Lauren Says:

    hello! I have a copy of The Art of Mastering French Cooking Vol 1, 1963, says reprinted two times, fourth printing September 1963. There is something very strange about this book. It was bound to the cover upside down and backwards! I’ve seen lots of copies of the book for sale but haven’t been able to locate any info about this printer’s error. Have you seen any other copies like this; could this error make the book very valuable? While readable (after flipping it around of course), it does have some problems with condition: no dust jacket, spine lean and some staining along the fore edge.

  59. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Lauren,

    You’ve definitely found a curiosity! I have a book of Coleridge’s letters that has the same issue – it is misbound the wrong way round in the binding. Unfortunately, in these cases, it is mostly curiosity value than significant commercial value. The book is probably just of ‘used book’ value.

    The only cases where errors like this would greatly increase the value are in the first editions of major collectable books – like the first Great Gatsby dust-jacket that has a lower-case “j” on the rear cover, or the Harry Potter “Joanne Rowling” point mentioned in the interview above. This is because there are often very few copies printed before the error is discovered, so those first copies off the press are sought after.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  60. Ben Says:

    Some friends of mine have a full set of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Eleventh Edition, published in 1910, with the pages in excellent condition, the front covers in good condition, and the spines totally crumbling and falling apart. I see online that the asking price of this edition ranges from $200 to $1600; with this particular description, where would you estimate this set’s value?

  61. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Ben,

    Unfortunately in most cases the Encyclopedia Britannica (and most other encyclopedias) has been rendered almost worthless by the internet, where all the content is available for free and in more up-to-date form. In terms of collectible value it is primarily seen as a decorative binding now, which obviously does not apply with your friends’ copy. The cost of repairing the binding would, sadly, far exceed the value of the books once the restoration was done. It’s hard to know what to suggest – perhaps some sort of repurposing them as book art or furniture?!?

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  62. Brenda Says:

    I also have an old Alice in Wonderland book that has no publishing date. Publisher is listed as The Mershon Company, Rahway, N.J. and New York. 42 illustrations are by John Tenniel. Last page number is 202. It is hard cover fabric and the picture on the front of the book is the same as one I found on a German (I think) titled book of Alice in Wonderland. The book pages are English. Not in great shape; however all pages in tact except the very first one before the title page. Not through searching yet, but haven’t found anything similar to it so far. Would appreciate your comments. Thanks

  63. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Brenda,

    Thanks for your message. I often use a web site called viaLibri to search library catalogues: http://www.vialibri.net/library_search.php. I tried this with “alice in wonderland” as a title and “rahway mershon” as keywords, looking on WorldCat. It indicates that this edition was published around 1899, although their record suggests a different number of pages from your edition. Nonetheless if gives an idea when the publisher was in operation, and we can say your copy dates probably 1890-1910.

    Unfortunately that is several decades after the book was originally published, and it’s a long way from being a first edition, so even though it has some age to it, it is not going to be valued too highly by collectors. It’s really in the ‘used book’ sort of category.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  64. Larry P. Young Says:

    I stumbled across your interview while searching for info on a book in my possession. I found the interview to be informative to say the least. I am interested in knowing the approximate value of what appears to be a 1st edition of “King’s New American Family Physician”, Division I, published in 1875. The book is in good condition and contains a picture of John King, M.D. (engraved by J.C.Suttre, N.Y.) Thank you for any information or guidance you might be able to provide. Larry P. Young

  65. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Larry,

    Thanks for your message. Generally speaking there are relatively few medical books from 1800 onwards that are of great value – as a broad rule, the earlier the better. There are some 19th century medical books that *are* of value, but they tend to be on very specific subjects like individual diseases. Your book sounds like it is quite general, and it also quite late, so I would say the auction value would be less than $100.

    Many thanks

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  66. William Says:

    I began collecting 19th century salesmen sample books a few years ago after one was given to me. Finding a sample of a book, and then finding each of the binding options the sample offered has made for some great sets.

    Showing samples of the available bindings and order forms (many times filled in with actual orders), would you generally consider these samples in the same category of value as advance copies, or would they be more comparable to the first editions they advertise? I collect them simply for their uniqueness, but was just curious to your thoughts.

    Thanks,
    William

  67. Susan G Says:

    Your information on association copies is quite intriguing! I wonder if you might be able to solve the mystery of whether we own one such copy – Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It is inscribed from the author to Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester: “For Elsa & Charles – with continued admiration from their fan – Ray Bradbury, Nov. 3, 1957.” Publisher is Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1957; yellow cloth hardback, 281 pages, with a dustjacket. Tucked inside is what appears to be a small bookplate, loose and unattached, with a little sketch and the words “Charles Laughton”. Any thoughts you may have on this book would be much appreciated!

  68. ivonne ratchford Says:

    Dear Mathew, I have a 1925 Health Knowledge book vol.2 34 department scientificaly illustrated medical book distributors inc. publishers New York,N.Y. the cover has a few scratches but the inside is intack would you have any idea if this is worth anything and if I would like to sell it what do you suggest is the best way for me to try and sell it. Thank you for your time and wisdom .
    sincerly
    Rev. Ivonne Ratchford

  69. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear William,

    Thanks for your question and sorry for the delay in replying. I love the sound of your salesman’s dummies collection – how unusual!

    In a way, they are not that closely comparable to the book they were promoting. Certainly, the more famous the book the more valuable the dummy will be, but I don’t know if an exact parallel can be drawn with advance copies or first editions. Most collectors who focus on particular authors or periods concentrate on first editions. There are fewer ‘completists’ who want everything related to that author which would include salesman’s dummies. On that basis, I would expect a given salesman’s dummy to make less than the first edition since the buyer base is smaller.

    On the other hand, by bringing the dummies together you have added value to them since they can be considered alongside each other (rather than alongside the works they promote). If and when you part with them, they will stand on their own merit and probably won’t be treated as ‘lesser versions’ of the ‘real thing.’

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  70. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thanks for your comment on Ray Bradbury association copies. Your book definitely qualifies! Since Charles Laughton was a Hollywood actor, he might well have socialized with Bradbury. Also, Laughton produced a couple of literary anthologies, “Tell Me a Story” (1957) and “The Fabulous Country” (1962), which included excerpts of works by Bradbury. Depending on the condition mainly of the dust-jacket, it ought to be worth between $300 and 500 in an auction context.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  71. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Ivonne,

    Thanks for your message. While medical books are a strong subject, by the 1920s printing was fairly cheap and easy (meaning the book may have been produced in large quantities), and this isn’t the sort of book that will feature major medical discoveries. (A later example of such a book might be a work by Crick and Watson on the discovery of DNA.) As such the value is probably pretty low – below $100.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  72. Danny Says:

    Matthew, I am at a loss trying to find (Google) any reference to a known ( pictures or in someones possession) “American Copy” of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from 1894, not the Peacock Edition but the Illustrated by Hugh Thomson edition that was printed in a quantity of “250 for England and 25 copies for America” with the illustrations printed on the tissue paper and pasted in on unbleached Arnold Paper. I am confident that I have one of the 25 printed for America because of the title page and listing both the American and English publisher and the fact that the outer spine does not list any publisher like the UK version does. I can find all sorts of reference on abebooks concerning sellers selling the UK version but as I stated I can not find one “legitimate” reference to one of the American copies in existance nor what its value might be. Can you help? Thanks.

  73. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Danny,

    Thanks for your message. I can’t find any references to the American copy either; Harvard has some of the proof illustrations online, though: http://ids.lib.harvard.edu/ids/view/15143071
    That yours is one of the 25 copies for America from the 275 (250+25) large-paper copies would not make a significant difference to the value compared to one of the 250 for the UK, since to all intents and purposes it is the same book albeit with minor differences.

    Because of the type of book it is – illustrated, not a first edition, relatively modern – many libraries would not go into great bibliographic detail in their descriptions of it, so it’s possible that there are library records out there for the 25 American copies but not described as such.

    In auction, I would expect one of the 275 copies to sell for anything upwards of $500 depending on the binding. If it’s in a super-deluxe binding it could be as much as $1,500.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  74. Rose Monaco Says:

    In 1969 during the Nasa moon missions. My mother sent self addressed envelopes to P.O. U.S.S. Hornet
    U.V.S. – 12- SPO
    San Fransisco, Calf.

    The stamps on the envelopes say U.S.S. Hornet
    Jul 24th Am 1969
    I’ve been trying for years on and off to see if these are of any value.

    My Mother said the postal stamp went to the moon.
    Can you help me figure this out?
    Than You,
    Rose Monaco

  75. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Rose,

    Thank you for your message. It’s a little puzzling that your mother said the postage stamp went to the moon (I am trying to figure out how that could be so if she sent the self-addressed envelope to USS Hornet?), but it is true that the master printing die for the Apollo 11 stamp was carried to and from the moon in July, 1969. When the printing die returned to Earth it then it was used to make the printing plates for the postage stamps that were issued by the Post Office and used on these first day covers.

    Again, the timeline doesn’t quite tie up with your mother’s recollection of the stamp going to the moon, but this detail could have been what she was referring to.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  76. victoria payne Says:

    I have a book written by Thomas F. Troy titled “Donovan and the CIA” i’m not sure what it’s called a proof, gulley, manuscript….but it’s been signed by the author Thomas Troy to a family memeber thanking her for “Fun in the sun in Sun City AZ”,also dated 6months before print also theres aletter to the same woman and apost card to the woman….Any idea what it would be worth? The book is in awesome condition…and he’s made corrections in it also.

  77. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Ms Payne,

    Thanks for your message. If it’s a typewritten manuscript it is likely to be on letter-size paper; if a galley proof it will be rather tall and slender; if it’s a proof copy it will look more like a finished book. If there are corrects, it’s most likely to be either the typewritten manuscript or a galley proof.

    The CIA is a fairly popular subject, of course, but there may not be very many deep-pocketed collectors out there for such a niche item as yours. In auction, it is hard to see it making more than $100, but you might be best off donating it to the National Archives who have Thomas Troy’s research papers for the book (CIA Records ref. 263.2.2) and taking a tax deduction.

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  78. Tonya Noel Says:

    I have 2 old books from 1921 by Arthur Scott Bailey, one is The Tale of Old Dog Spot and the other is The Tale of Missy Kitty Cat. I have looked on line but the few I have found look different. They are hardbacks and the only illustration in the books are on the inside cover and first page across from the publishers name, the books I have found online say they are illustrated by Harry L Smith, but there is no pictures in my books and no name or illustrated by anyone. The paper is very thick, it has copyright, 1921, by Grosset & Dunlap. I bought these about 20 years ago at a garage sale. Do you have any information to there worth? Thank you for your time.

  79. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Tonya,

    Thanks for your message. It’s not unusual in this pre-war period to find books being published in several different editions, with varying degrees of illustration. I’m not aware of Arthur Scott Bailey being a particularly collected author, so the value of each of the books is probably fairly low unfortunately (probably under $20 for the pair).

    Regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  80. kathryn Says:

    I have a copy of Byron’s Poetical Works it does not have a publishing date or an issue number.The title page just says London John Walker& Company, 96 Farringdon Street,E.C. I am interested to know the age of this book as there is a picture of Byron and what appears to be his signature underneath in the front of the copy. The signature appears to be in ink but I wondered if this is a print..-could you tell me if it was usual to print the authors signature?The copy has an inscription to Katie Kay Christmas 1902 and if the signature is that of Byron, I realise that the book would have to have been given as a gift when it was at least 60 years old. The book is purple and gold and has an indented rounded cross design on the cover with the name Byron in red lettering.Thanks for your help.

  81. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Kathryn,

    Thanks for your message. Unfortunately the Victorians and Edwardians were very keen on portraits of authors with printed signatures below – one sees this in many books from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It sounds very much like your copy of Byron falls into this category. Your description of the binding reinforces that theory. The lack of a date on the title page also tends to be a late 19th / early 20th century trait (it gave books a longer ‘shelf life’ in the bookstore!).

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  82. Chris Says:

    I have a first edition book that is signed and was published in 1907. The book is called The Life and Adventures of Polk Wells written by himself and published by G.A. Warnica. The book is in good condition. I did some research and Polk Wells was an outlaw in the mid 1800s had a son with his wife and then went away for two years back to his life of crime. When he came back after those two years G.A. Warnica was in bed with wife. Warnica gave Wells money and the two became very good friends. I’ve seen three books that look like it online one was selling for five hundred. Any insight would be appreciated.

  83. john Adams Says:

    I have a copy of “Return’ by Michael Home [English author] published by William Morrow and Company [copyright 1933] Identical, except for title, to ‘God and the Rabbit”, published a few weeks later, in England by Rich and Cowan. Is the American publication, the first true edition of this novel. I assume that the American title was thought more acceptable for American readers

  84. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear John,

    Thanks for your message. You are probably right about the variation in title, although it is quite common for titles to vary US/UK for all sorts of reasons (a well-known one being Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone).

    (Technically, bibliographically-speaking, the UK and US editions aren’t “identical” as they are 436 and 491 pages long respectively – meaning the text was totally re-set.)

    Certainly if the English edition was published a few weeks later, then the American is the “true first.” There are un-dust-jacketed copies available online for $100 downwards, so unfortunately it’s not of massive value.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  85. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear Chris,

    Sorry for the belated reply about Polk Wells – I only just discovered the message. Sounds like a fun book, but caveats apply about prices listed online: if a book is listed online at $500 it means someone hasn’t come along to pay that yet! Somewhere south of that is possibly the market value.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley
    Bonhams

  86. john Adams Says:

    Matthew Re. my entry 83 and your reply, book “Return”, written by Michael Home [Christopher Bush] Thanks for reply. Not seen another true first, only second printing Sept. 1933. Since found his second book ” In This Valley ” by Morrow 1934, Think it was published this side, by Rich and Cowan just before ?? Picked up Charles Malam’s “Upper Pasture” with Groft Conklin’s” Bookplate 1 inside and handwritten 3-17-30 1711 Qrentano W47 Mst N.Y.C. Think was Bookshop he worked in . Did this prime his writing?

  87. Matthew Haley Says:

    Dear John,

    Sounds like you’re having fun doing some detective work!

    The bookshop you mention would have been Brentano’s – one of the most famous pre-war New York bookshops, along with Scribner’s and a few others. Now sadly long gone, of course. I was lucky enough to be able to visit another wonderful former bookshop in the city, Gotham Book Mart, before it closed.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Haley

  88. john Adams Says:

    Was once. Bought “Upper Pastures” and other Charles Malam books of poetry, through the illustrations of J. J. Lankes, after admiring the dustjacket of H. W. Freeman’s, American publication of “Fathers of their People”, his second book. Freeman wrote nine novels. Two American copies have J.J. Lankes illustrations on dustjacket. and one , Chaffinch’s” appeared in America as “His Own Place” His first book became book of the month. I am fortunate in that my copy of “Fathers of Their People” is signed by Freeman and was sent to R. H. Mottram, who introduced Freeman’s first book, dated April 2nd 1932.


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