Collectible Cat

Ellison Ralph Invisible Man

First Edition Prices, Values and Auction Results

Undoubtedly a landmark literary work, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man changed the landscape of what it meant to be an African American in a white society. This society plagues the nameless protagonist by beating him down and ignoring him, adding to his personal struggle for identity. The first issue published in 1952 by Random House (New York)  has a pictorial jacket by E. McKnight Kauffer and with a portrait of Ellison by Gordon Parks on the back panel. In fine condition, this copy may be auctioned in the $1500-$2000 range, even more if the copy is signed. Later issues of the first edition command $800-$1500 if signed. Attention should be paid to the issue points as many editions look similar including the dust jacket.

We collected a sample of 21 auction results of Ellison, Ralph's Invisible Man from 3 different auction houses. The lowest overall price realized in our sample was $96 and the highest overall price realized was $4200. The overall average price was $1089 and the median price realized for the book was $1080. There were 10 auctions (53%) with a price realized below the low estimate, 7 auctions (37%) exceeding the high estimates, and 2 auctions (11%) within the range of the low and high estimates. Auctions of interest include: a Bonhams sale on February 14, 2016 of a 1952 - Random House edition for $2750 that with an inscription from author; a PBA sale on September 27, 2007 of a 1952 - Random House edition for $1920 that described as "very good overall"; a PBA sale on January 26, 2006 of a 1952 - Random House edition for $4200 that rare signed copy; a PBA sale on May 27, 2004 of a 1952 - Random House edition for $2040 that described as "very good to near fine in like jacket";

Recent Auction Results:

Auction House Auction Date Author Title City Publisher Year Estimate Sale Price Auction Page Other Copies
Swann May 16, 2017 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $600-$900 $1375 Swann Copies for Sale
Swann May 18, 2016 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $600-$900 $406 Swann Copies for Sale
Bonhams February 14, 2016 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 - $2750 Bonhams Copies for Sale
Bonhams September 22, 2015 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 - $1500 Bonhams Copies for Sale
PBA August 20, 2015 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $1000-$1500 $960 PBA Copies for Sale
PBA October 10, 2013 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man Franklin Center, PA Franklin Library 1980 $200-$300 $168 PBA Copies for Sale
PBA July 25, 2013 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man Franklin Center, PA Franklin Library 1980 $100-$150 $96 PBA Copies for Sale
PBA December 13, 2012 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $500-$800 $360 PBA Copies for Sale
Swann June 21, 2012 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York 1972 $400-$600 $270 Swann Copies for Sale
PBA June 12, 2008 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $1500-$2500 $1080 PBA Copies for Sale
PBA September 27, 2007 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $1000-$1500 $1920 PBA Copies for Sale
Swann February 27, 2007 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York 1952 $300-$500 $540 Swann Copies for Sale
PBA January 26, 2006 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $4000-$7000 $4200 PBA Copies for Sale
PBA January 26, 2006 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $200-$300 $420 PBA Copies for Sale
PBA March 24, 2005 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $1500-$2500 $1140 PBA Copies for Sale
Swann November 9, 2004 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York 1972 $300-$400 $201 Swann Copies for Sale
PBA May 27, 2004 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York Random House 1952 $1500-$2500 $2040 PBA Copies for Sale
Swann February 26, 2004 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York 1952 $800-$1200 $1495 Swann Copies for Sale
Swann February 26, 2004 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man Franklin Center, PA 1980 $300-$400 $489 Swann Copies for Sale
PBA January 29, 2004 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man Franklin Center, PA Franklin Library 1980 $250-$350 $192 PBA Copies for Sale
Swann February 27, 2003 Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man New York 1952 $600-$900 $1265 Swann Copies for Sale