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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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CHARLES DICKENS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, FIRST EDITION, STAVE I, 1843
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
CHARLES DICKENS, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, FIRST EDITION, STAVE I, 1843
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $950- $1,250
$1,80013 Bids
CHARLES DICKENS, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, ORIGINAL PARTS, 1859
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
CHARLES DICKENS, A TALE OF TWO CITIES, ORIGINAL PARTS, 1859
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $200- $400
$3758 Bids
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Gen. Sherman's Book on Gen. Grant's World Tour
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Gen. Sherman's Book on Gen. Grant's World Tour
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $250- $500
$4507 Bids
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Sherman's Copy of Barnard's "Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign"
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Sherman's Copy of Barnard's "Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign"
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $60,000- $80,000
$1,7007 Bids
IDRIESS
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
IDRIESS
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD50- AUD80
AUD4005 Bids
CHARLES DICKENS, SKETCHES BY BOZ, FIRST BOUND EDITION, 1839
Apr 27, 10:00 AM EDT
CHARLES DICKENS, SKETCHES BY BOZ, FIRST BOUND EDITION, 1839
by Amelia Jeffers
Est: $200- $400
$504 Bids
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Uncle Tom's Cabin, First Edition
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Uncle Tom's Cabin, First Edition
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $250- $500
$2254 Bids
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Sherman Family Copy of Gen. Sherman's Memoirs
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Sherman Family Copy of Gen. Sherman's Memoirs
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $250- $500
$2004 Bids
TALE OF BEATRIX POTTER
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
TALE OF BEATRIX POTTER
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD100- AUD150
AUD904 Bids
IDRIESS X 3 FIRST EDITIONS DUSTWRAPPER
Apr 21, 12:00 PM AEST
IDRIESS X 3 FIRST EDITIONS DUSTWRAPPER
by Sydney Rare Book Auctions
Est: AUD300- AUD400
AUD2254 Bids
VOYAGE PITTORESQUE ET HISTORIQUE DE L'ISTRIE ET DALMATIE.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
VOYAGE PITTORESQUE ET HISTORIQUE DE L'ISTRIE ET DALMATIE.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €800- €1,000
€5503 Bids
OPERA POSTHUMA, QUORUM SERIES POST PRAEFATIONEM EXHIBETUR.
Apr 27, 1:00 PM CEST
OPERA POSTHUMA, QUORUM SERIES POST PRAEFATIONEM EXHIBETUR.
by Arenberg Auctions
Est: €2,000- €3,000
€1,1003 Bids
1928 Our Jolly Holidays Put Together Book by M. Helena Crofts Illustrated FIRST EDITION
May 06, 6:00 PM EDT
1928 Our Jolly Holidays Put Together Book by M. Helena Crofts Illustrated FIRST EDITION
by One Source Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$353 Bids
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby First Edition
May 02, 11:00 AM EDT
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby First Edition
by Willow Auction House
Est: $100- $200
$803 Bids
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Lincoln's Funeral Cortège Book by Custodian of Lincoln's Tomb
May 14, 10:00 AM EDT
Lincoln's Funeral Cortège Book by Custodian of Lincoln's Tomb
by Fleischer's Auction House
Est: $150- $250
$602 Bids
WAUGH, E. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. 1957. Ocl. w. dust-j
May 07, 1:30 PM CEST
WAUGH, E. The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. 1957. Ocl. w. dust-j
by Burgersdijk & Niermans
Est: €110- €140
€1102 Bids

Sellers Who Sell First Edition Books


Bucklin

Bucklin

Doyle New York

Doyle New York

Arenberg Auctions

Arenberg Auctions

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen

Kiefer Buch- und Kunstauktionen