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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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1885 Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant 2 Volume Set w/ Fold-Outs Illustrated FIRST EDITION
Mar 18, 6:00 PM EDT
1885 Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant 2 Volume Set w/ Fold-Outs Illustrated FIRST EDITION
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$22511 Bids
1888 Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan 2 Volume Set w/ Fold-Outs Illustrated FIRST EDITION
Mar 18, 6:00 PM EDT
1888 Personal Memoirs of P.H. Sheridan 2 Volume Set w/ Fold-Outs Illustrated FIRST EDITION
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$1505 Bids
Poems by Lord Byron, 1st edition
Feb 27, 7:00 PM AEDT
Poems by Lord Byron, 1st edition
by Lawsons
Est: AUD80- AUD120
AUD504 Bids
Aubrey Beardsley BOOK OF FIFTY DRAWINGS & Lynd Ward MADMAN’S DRUM
Feb 26, 7:00 PM EST
Aubrey Beardsley BOOK OF FIFTY DRAWINGS & Lynd Ward MADMAN’S DRUM
by Kensington Estate Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1403 Bids
JIMMY BUFFETT SIGNED BOOK, A PIRATE LOOKS AT FIFTY
Feb 23, 10:00 AM EST
JIMMY BUFFETT SIGNED BOOK, A PIRATE LOOKS AT FIFTY
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$503 Bids
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SCARCE YACHTING BOOK "J CLASS"
Feb 27, 9:30 AM EST
SCARCE YACHTING BOOK "J CLASS"
by Eldred's
Est: $300- $500
$2753 Bids
Outhwaite First edition
Feb 25, 10:00 AM AEDT
Outhwaite First edition
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD150- AUD250
AUD1703 Bids
TWO 19TH CENTURY COOKBOOKS
Feb 23, 10:00 AM CST
TWO 19TH CENTURY COOKBOOKS
by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $50- $100
$302 Bids
CORETTA SCOTT KING SIGNED FIRST EDITION BOOK
Feb 23, 10:00 AM EST
CORETTA SCOTT KING SIGNED FIRST EDITION BOOK
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1502 Bids
Think And Grow Rich 1st Ed. Personal Effects
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Think And Grow Rich 1st Ed. Personal Effects
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $100- $10,000
$552 Bids
Martin Sharpe First Edition
Feb 25, 10:00 AM AEDT
Martin Sharpe First Edition
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD80- AUD120
AUD702 Bids
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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China (Cambridge World Encyclopedias) 1st Edition book
Feb 25, 11:00 AM EST
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China (Cambridge World Encyclopedias) 1st Edition book
by Eternity Gallery
Est: $40- $80
$201 Bid
A. Escoffier, Der Kochkunst - Führer, 1. dt. Auflage, 1904 mit Autograph
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
A. Escoffier, Der Kochkunst - Führer, 1. dt. Auflage, 1904 mit Autograph
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €500- €700
€201 Bid

Sellers Who Sell First Edition Books


Forum Auctions - UK

Forum Auctions - UK

Auctions Van de Wiele

Auctions Van de Wiele

Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions