If ‘The Hobbit’ is a first edition, in perfect condition and has a typo corrected by hand on the back, it could fetch as much $53,800
An online antique marketplace has revealed a list of the most valuable books people might have at home without ever realizing it.
First editions, or a full set of volumes, can command the highest prices as well as those that were manufactured as a one-off. For example, a special version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone comes out on top when it comes to valuations hitting just over $67,300.
Antique website LoveAntiques.com, with the help of Matthew Haley, director and head of books and manuscripts at Bonhams, has created a list of the tomes that may worth a ton along with what price they currently command in the market.
In the set of investor guidelines, Haley states the condition and completeness of the book are paramount, and any damage such as missing title pages or spine, could decrease the value of the item by a hundredth of what a collector would pay for it, compared to if it were in mint condition.
“Searching your bookshelves for treasures can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, but in every auction, we have sellers who are stunned by how much their old books make,” he revealed. “If you have an extremely old, rare or a book similar to the ones on this list, which is in good condition, you really could be looking at a small fortune.”
Understandably, there are certain caveats that affect a book’s value so antique book prices can vary based on the overall condition of the book and the packaging that it’s in.
The guidelines also advise to keep the dust jackets for the books – most 20th century books need to have their original dust-jacket to be of collectible value. Although there are always exceptions, for example, the first printed edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone did not have a dust-jacket.
Additionally, for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to achieve its full $67,300 (£50,000) value it must be a hardback and have a series of numbers running from 10 down to 1 on the back of the title page. Meanwhile, if The Hobbit is a first edition, in perfect condition and has a typo corrected by hand on the back, it could fetch as much $53,800 (£40,000).
So, what are the page-turners that could be worth a fortune that may just be gathering dust on one of your bookshelves? For the full list of the 20 most valuable antique books and the expert’s set of investor guidelines you can check out the website but, after the jump, we’ve got a look at the top five.
Four ‘Winnie the Pooh’ books, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ can all fetch big bucks for first editions in great condition.
5. The four Winnie-the-Pooh books (1924-1928)
Author: A.A. Milne
Value: $5,388-$13,471 (£4,000-£10,000)
The rights to A. A. Milne’s Pooh books were left to four beneficiaries including his wife. After Milne’s death, she sold her rights to the Pooh characters to Stephen Slesinger, whose widow sold the rights after Slesinger’s death to the Walt Disney Company. In 2001, the other beneficiaries sold their interest in the estate to the Disney Corporation for $350 million.
4. A Christmas Carol (1843)
Author: Charles Dickens
Value: $20,207 (£15,000)
Published on 19 December, the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve. By the end of 1844, 13 editions had been released. A Christmas Carol has never been out of print and has been translated into several languages; the story has been adapted many times for film, stage, opera, and other media.
3. The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1901)
Author: Beatrix Potter
Value: $47,150 (£35,000)
Peter Rabbit is a fictional animal character in various children’s stories by Beatrix Potter. He first appeared in The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902 and subsequently in five more books. Peter Rabbit was the first soft toy to be patented, in 1903, making Peter the oldest licensed character. In 1936, Walt Disney expressed interest in making a Peter Rabbit film but Beatrix Potter refused and didn’t give him the rights.
2. The Hobbit (1937)
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Value: $53,886 (£40,000)
As with A Christmas Carol, The Hobbit has never been out of print. Its ongoing legacy encompasses many adaptations for stage, screen, radio, board games, and video games. The first printing of the first English-language edition can sell for between $8,000 and $26,900 at auction, although the price for a signed first edition has reached over $80,790.
1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Value: $67,358 (£50,000)
Rowling spent six years working on Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury accepted it paying her a $3,360 advance and, because of that, she obtained a grant of $10,770 from the Scottish Arts Council to write the follow-ups. Her original name, Joanne Rowling, can be found in small print on the copyright page of this first British edition. Examples from this initial print run sold for as much as $33,460 in a 2007 Heritage Auction.
For the full list of the 20 most valuable antique books and the expert’s set of investor guidelines can be found here.