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First Edition Books

Finding and possessing a rare first edition book is often a goal of both the novice and expert book collector. For many vintage books or books published by a small imprint, only 100 or so copies were run for the first edition, so they are both highly sought after and hard to find. This is particularly true of books that later became unexpectedly popular. First edition books that have won a literary award are a true treasure for collectors.

First edition books are often particularly prized because of the integrity to the author’s intent. Later editions may include changes to the original text, format, or binding. Some first editions are almost impossible to find, such as a "Don Quixote" original by Miguel de Cervantes.

Collecting first edition books can be both a science and a gamble, much like playing the stock market. For many books, it only takes time and patience for a contemporary first edition to gain value in the collector’s market. But in addition to popularity, condition makes a significant difference in the value of a first edition book, particularly the dust jacket. Many modern dust covers were torn or simply tossed aside, but the jackets are often valued for their signature artwork, making a dust jacket an integral component of the work itself.


Quick Facts

  • A first edition of "American Pastoral" by Philip Roth with an original pictorial dust jacket realized a price of $80,000 at a 2014 Christie's New York auction
  • A 1937 first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s "The Hobbit" with an elvish inscription by Tolkien sold for $194,807 at a 2015 auction by Christie’s
  • In 2014, Christie's held First Editions: Second Thoughts: An Auction of Books and Artworks to Benefit Pen American Center featuring many contemporary first edition titles. The sale raised $918,800

Recommended Items at Auction

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KING, Stephen (b. 1947). ‘Salem’s Lot. Garden City: Doubled...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). ‘Salem’s Lot. Garden City: Doubled...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $500- $800
$85012 Bids
ANGLIA JUDAICA; OR, THE HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS IN ENGLAND,
Oct 07, 10:00 AM EDT
ANGLIA JUDAICA; OR, THE HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS IN ENGLAND,
by Withington Auctions
Est: $400- $800
$42510 Bids
LA DIVINA COMMEDIA RIDOTTA A MIGLIOR LEZIONE DAGLI ACCADEMICI DELLA CRUSCA.
Oct 08, 1:00 PM CEST
LA DIVINA COMMEDIA RIDOTTA A MIGLIOR LEZIONE DAGLI ACCADEMICI DELLA CRUSCA.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €200- €300
€4508 Bids
Vntg The Lonely Ones, William Steig Copr 1942
Oct 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Vntg The Lonely Ones, William Steig Copr 1942
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc.
Est: $20- $40
$157 Bids
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1904 "A Dog’s Tale" Mark Twain 1st Edition
Oct 22, 9:00 AM MDT
1904 "A Dog’s Tale" Mark Twain 1st Edition
by North American Auction Company
Est: $350- $700
$2756 Bids
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). Cujo. New York: The Viking Press, ...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). Cujo. New York: The Viking Press, ...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$4255 Bids
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VINTAGE 1933 COCKTAIL BOOK 1ST EDITION HARDBACK
Oct 08, 2:00 PM EDT
VINTAGE 1933 COCKTAIL BOOK 1ST EDITION HARDBACK
by Florida Estate Sales Inc.
Est: $150- $10,000
$185 Bids
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, Signed 1st Edition
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, Signed 1st Edition
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $400- $600
$4505 Bids
DE CRUCE LIBRI TRES. AD SACRAM PROFANAMQUE HISTORIAM UTILES. UNA CUM NOTIS.
Oct 08, 1:00 PM CEST
DE CRUCE LIBRI TRES. AD SACRAM PROFANAMQUE HISTORIAM UTILES. UNA CUM NOTIS.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €300- €400
€3505 Bids
ASTROLABIUM.
Oct 08, 1:00 PM CEST
ASTROLABIUM.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €200- €300
€2605 Bids
HEMINGWAY, Ernest (1899–1961). Men Without Women. New York:...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
HEMINGWAY, Ernest (1899–1961). Men Without Women. New York:...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $500- $700
$5504 Bids
KING, Stephen (b. 1947) (“Richard Bachman”). [The Bachman B...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
KING, Stephen (b. 1947) (“Richard Bachman”). [The Bachman B...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $600- $800
$6504 Bids
My People the Sioux, Chief Standing Bear (1st ed., signed).
Oct 08, 10:30 AM PDT
My People the Sioux, Chief Standing Bear (1st ed., signed).
by Turner Auctions + Appraisals
Est: $80- $120
$1254 Bids
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). The Stand. Garden City: Doubleday ...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). The Stand. Garden City: Doubleday ...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $300- $500
$2503 Bids
CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”) (1835–1910). The A...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”) (1835–1910). The A...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$2503 Bids
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). Night Shift. Garden City: Doubleda...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). Night Shift. Garden City: Doubleda...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$3253 Bids
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). Carrie. Garden City: Doubleday & C...
Oct 20, 10:00 AM CDT
KING, Stephen (b. 1947). Carrie. Garden City: Doubleday & C...
by Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.
Est: $800- $1,200
$5503 Bids

Sellers Who Sell First Edition Books


Forum Auctions - UK

Forum Auctions - UK

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Potter & Potter Auctions Inc.

Chaucer Auctions

Chaucer Auctions

SD Auctions

SD Auctions