CollectibleCat

Collectible Book Values, Auctions Prices Realized and Estimates


How much is my book worth? Estimating the Value of Antiquarian, Rare and Collectible Books

Just as art is in the eye of the beholder, putting a dollar value on a book is a subjective and very imprecise exercise, ultimately dependent on the value to a willing and able buyer at a given point in time. Collectible books -- like art, memorabilia, and canceled stamps -- have little or no intrinsic value and produce no income as an investment, so value is utterly subjective and may be coveted one day and worth little to nothing the next. Nevertheless, there are resources antiquarians use to aid them in determining what a willing buyer and seller may agree is a proper range of values for a collectible item, and the past may provide us clues to the future.

First thing’s first: Make certain you are comparing apples to apples. Every edition should be valued separately, so the title, publisher, year, and place of publication need to match. US, UK and Canadian editions are separate. And once you know the edition, you then need to know the printing and issue (typically the first issue is most coveted). The “first issue points” are the characteristics that distinguish a first issue (the first run of the first printing) from later ones. Limited editions, trade editions and book club editions are also distinct. A copy lacking a dust jacket is often worth significantly less than one with an original jacket.

Condition is absolutely critical to most collectors and therefore strongly reflected in price. Look for foxing, staining, re-bound or worn copies, fading, and loose binding. Jacket condition is assessed separately and ones in fine condition highly prized. Copies with authentic author or illustrator signatures and inscriptions, interesting provenance, and original artwork (e.g., original lithographs and etchings) often command a significant premium.

Once you know your book’s edition and printing, and after you have assessed the book’s condition, it’s time to do some research. A good place to start is by researching auction prices realized for similar material. Auction houses such as PBA Auctions, Swann Galleries, Heritage and Bonhams publish prices realized for auctions going several years back and will show you unsold items. Review inventory on Abebooks, although keep in mind that those copies are offered at retail prices which bear little resemblance to the wholesale or auction values. Consider taking your book to a properly credentialed professional  appraiser, particularly one working at an established auction houses.

Keep in mind, since condition is so critical, most appraisers and antiquarian professionals will insist on examining the book in person. I wouldn’t trust one otherwise. Ultimately, the only way to know for sure what the market will command is to offer your book for sale, either through auction or to a reputable dealer nearby. Valuing collectible books, you will find, is imprecise as evidenced by auction results which vary wildly even for copies of the same edition in similar condition. As always, caveat emptor, or perhaps “caveat venditor” is more appropriate in this case.


  • Dahl Roald Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Dahl Roald James and the Giant Peach
  • Dalrymple W. The Golfers' Referee
  • Dana Richard Henry Jr. Two Years Before the Mast
  • Darwin Bernard A Friendly Round
  • Darwin Bernard A Round of Golf
  • Darwin Bernard Green Memories
  • Darwin Bernard Rubs of the Green
  • Darwin Bernard Second Shots Casual Talks About Golf
  • Darwin Bernard Tee Shots and Others
  • Darwin Bernard The Golf Courses of Great Britain
  • Darwin Bernard The Golf Courses of the British Isles
  • Darwin Charles On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection
  • Dawson William Leon The Birds of California A Complete Scientific and Popular Account of the 580 Species and Subspecies of Birds Found in the State
  • Defoe Daniel The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
  • Defoe Daniel The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
  • Demaret Jimmy My Partner Ben Hogan
  • Dickens Charles A Christmas Carol
  • Dickens Charles Bleak House
  • Dickens Charles Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son
  • Dickens Charles Dombey and Son
  • Dickens Charles Little Dorrit
  • Dickens Charles Master Humphrey's Clock
  • Dickens Charles Oliver Twist
  • Dickens Charles Our Mutual Friend
  • Dickens Charles Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
  • Dickens Charles The Chimes
  • Dickens Charles The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
  • Dickens Charles The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • Dickens Charles The Personal History of David Copperfield
  • Dickens Charles The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club
  • Dickens Charles The Works of Charles Dickens
  • Dinesen Isak Out of Africa
  • Doyle Arthur Conan The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Doyle Arthur Conan The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • Doyle Arthur Conan The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  • Edgar J. Douglas The Gate to Golf
  • Eliot George The Works of George Eliot
  • Eliot T. S. Four Quartets
  • Eliot T.S. The Waste Land
  • Eliot The Waste Land
  • Ellis Jeffery B. The Clubmaker's Art
  • Ellison Ralph Invisible Man
  • Emory Lieut. Col. William H. Notes of a Military Reconnaissance
  • Evans Charles (Chick) Jr. Chick Evans' Golf Book
  • Everson William On Printing
  • Everson William Renegade Christmas
  • Fahey Herbert Early Printing in California
  • Farrar Guy B. The Royal Liverpool Golf Club A History 1869 1932
  • Faulkner William A Fable
  • Faulkner William Intruder in the Dust
  • Faulkner William Light in August
  • Faulkner William Pylon
  • Faulkner William Requiem for a Nun
  • Faulkner William The Mansion
  • Faulkner William The Sound and the Fury
  • Faulkner William The Wild Palms
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott All the Sad Young Men
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott Flappers and Philosophers
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott Tales of the Jazz Age
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott Taps at Reveille
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott Tender is the Night
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott The Beautiful and Damned
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott The Great Gatsby
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott The Vegetable or From President to Postman
  • Fitzgerald F. Scott This Side of Paradise
  • Fleming Ian Dr. No
  • Fleming Ian Goldfinger
  • Fleming Ian Man with the Golden Gun
  • Fleming Ian On Her Majesty's Secret Service
  • Fleming Ian The Man With the Golden Gun
  • Fleming Ian The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Fleming Ian Thunderball
  • Fleming Ian You Only Live Twice
  • Flint Violet A Golfing Idyll or The Skipper's Round with the Devil on the Links of St. Andrews
  • Forbes Alexander A History of Upper and Lower California
  • Fremont John Charles Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains
  • Frost Robert The Complete Poems of Robert Frost
  • Galvin John The Etchings of Edward Borein A Catalogue of his Work
  • Garcia Marquez Cabriel One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Gibbon Edward The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • Gibson William Neuromancer
  • Ginsberg Allen Howl and Other Poems
  • Ginsberg Allen Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg
  • Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Faust
  • Goldsmith Oliver The Vicar of Wakefield
  • Goodner Ross The 75 Year History of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club Southampton 1891 1966
  • Grahame Kenneth The Wind in the Willows
  • Grant H. R. J. Aspects of Collecting Golf Books
  • Grant Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant
  • Grey Zane Tales of Fishes
  • Grey Zane Tales of Fishing Virgin Seas
  • Grey Zane Tales of Fresh Water Fishing
  • Grey Zane Tales of Lonely Trails
  • Grey Zane Tales of Southern Rivers
  • Grey Zane Tales of Swordfish and Tuna
  • Grey Zane Tales of Tahitian Waters
  • Grey Zane Tales of the Angler's Eldorado New Zealand
  • Grimm Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • Griswold Frank Gray Observations on a Salmon River