Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books (2022)

Most Valuable First Edition Children's Books

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books (1)>There are forty-four picturebooks in the Price Guide which have an estimated market value of $1,000 or more for a first edition copy. The list is a virtual "Who's Who?" of American picturebooks, topped by Where The Wild Things Are. Most of the books are staples within the picturebook industry - the list includes such classics as Make Way For Ducklings, The Story Of Ferdinand, Millions Of Cats, Madeline, Curious George, Harold And The Purple Crayon, Eloise, and Babar.

Fifteen of the books are by Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss! Virginia Lee Burton has two books in the top ten, Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel and The Little House.

Nine of the books are Caldecott Medal books, while seven of the books are Caldecott Honor books. The Polar Express (1985), by Chris Van Allsburg, is the most recently published book with an estimated market value over $1,000.

Scarcity

Probably the most difficult book to find in collectible first edition condition would be Robert McCloskey's, Make Way For Ducklings. In all our years of collecting, we have seen only a couple come to market. Harold And The Purple Crayon is nearly as difficult to find, as are the three Smith and Haas published Babar books.

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books (2)>The early Seuss books are also difficult to find in collectible, first edition state. The first edition Dr. Seuss books published after 1954, starting with On Beyond Zebra, can be found in collectible condition with a modest amount of effort. The exception to this, to a certain extent, is the first edition ("200/200") of Seuss's milestone book, The Cat In The Hat, and to a large extent, is the first state (stickered) of Green Eggs and Ham - the first state of Green Eggs does not surface too often. As for the other books in the list, we have found that most of them come to market several times per year.

(Video) AbeBooks Explains how to Identify a First Edition Book

Why Are These Books Valuable?

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books (3)>For this list and the lists that follow ["lists that follow" refers to lists in the Children's Picturebook Price Guide of the twenty most valuable picturebooks from each decade, covering the 1930's up the 1990's.], note the key factors that impact the collectibility of the books.

Each is a high quality story with imaginative or inventive illustrations, therefore the reading public has recurrently purchased the books for decades. Because of this, the books have stayed in print since their original publication and gone into many, many printings.

Many of the books have earned a children's picturebook award, while many of the illustrators have won numerous awards. All of the illustrators have high esteem within the book publishing market place.

Many of the book's characters became franchise characters, where one or more sequels were published, and line extensions have been made into other consumer product areas (i.e. toys, games, dolls, costumes, decorations, etc...). Lastly, many of the books or characters have crossed over into pop culture, either via a TV or feature film adaptation.

First Edition Books, with Dust Jackets!

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books (4)>The estimated values in the table are for first edition books with dust jackets. The Children's Picturebook Price Guide includes first edition identification points for twenty-nine of the books in the list.

(Video) How to easily identify a modern first edition book

Click on the book's title to see first edition identification points for a particular book. The link is to the blog post on Collecting Children's Books, where we are posting first edition points for key children's books at the rate of 2 or 3 per week. In most cases, we are posting photographs of the book's first edition identification points.

To see an indexed list of all the first edition identification points from the Blog, go to First Edition Identification Points.

Most Valuable First Edition Children's Picturebooks

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Most Valuable Picturebooks
Year Book Title Illustrator VG- VG VG+ Fine
1963 Where The Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak $6,200 $8,200 $10,200
1937 And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street Theodor Geisel $5,000 $6,800 $8,400
1940 Horton Hatches The Egg Theodor Geisel $4,400 $6,000 $7,400
1941 Make Way For Ducklings Robert McCloskey $4,400 $6,000 $7,400
1938 The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins Theodor Geisel $3,800 $5,000 $6,200
1939 The King's Stilts Theodor Geisel $3,200 $4,200 $5,200
1936 The Story Of Ferdinand Robert Lawson $3,000 $4,000 $5,000
1942 The Little House Virginia Lee Burton $3,000 $4,000 $5,000
1960 Green Eggs And Ham Theodor Geisel $2,800 $3,800 $4,800
1939 Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel Virginia Lee Burton $2,600 $3,400 $4,200
1928 Millions Of Cats Wanda Gag $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1939 Madeline Ludwig Bemelmans $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1957 The Cat In The Hat Theodor Geisel $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1933 The Story Of Babar Jean de Brunhoff $2,200 $3,000 $3,800
1941 Curious George H.A. Rey $2,200 $3,000 $3,800
1938 Pumpkin Moonshine Tasha Tudor $2,000 $2,800 $3,400
1947 McElligot's Pool Theodor Geisel $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1948 Thidwick: The Big-Hearted Moose Theodor Geisel $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1955 Harold And The Purple Crayon Crockett Johnson $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1955 Eloise Hilary Knight $1,800 $2,400 $3,000
1934 The Travels Of Babar Jean de Brunhoff $1,600 $2,000 $2,600
1935 Babar The King Jean de Brunhoff $1,600 $2,000 $2,600
1947 Curious George Takes A Job H.A. Rey $1,400 $2,000 $2,400
1949 Bartholomew And The Oobleck Theodor Geisel $1,400 $1,800 $2,200
1954 Horton Hears A Who Theodor Geisel $1,200 $1,600 $2,000
1957 How The Grinch Stole Christmas Theodor Geisel $1,200 $1,600 $2,000
1937 Animals Of The Bible Dorothy P. Lathrop $960 $1,200 $1,600
1938 Mei Li Thomas Handforth $960 $1,200 $1,600
1939 Abraham Lincoln Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire $960 $1,200 $1,600
1939 Alexander The Gander Tasha Tudor $960 $1,200 $1,600
1950 If I Ran The Zoo Theodor Geisel $960 $1,200 $1,600
1953 Scrambled Eggs Super Theodor Geisel $960 $1,200 $1,600
1968 Foot Book Theodor Geisel $960 $1,200 $1,600
1933 The ABC Bunny Wanda Gag $840 $1,200 $1,400
1948 Blueberries For Sal Robert McCloskey $840 $1,200 $1,400
1955 On Beyond Zebra Theodor Geisel $840 $1,200 $1,400
1956 If I Ran The Circus Theodor Geisel $840 $1,200 $1,400
1985 Polar Express Chris Van Allsburg $700 $1,000 $1,400
1939 Little Toot Hardie Gramatky $720 $960 $1,200
1942 Cecily G. And The 9 Monkeys H.A. Rey $720 $960 $1,200
1953 Journey Cake, Ho! Robert McCloskey $720 $960 $1,200
1953 A Very Special House Maurice Sendak $720 $960 $1,200
1952 The Biggest Bear Lynd Ward $600 $800 $1,000
1981 Jumanji Chris Van Allsburg $500 $ 760 $1,000

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(Video) What's it Worth? with Dr. Lori: First Edition Children's Book

Average Value of Books by Decade

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Childrens Books (5)

The table (right) lists the number of books in the price guide from each decade, and the average estimated market price for first edition books.

Not surprisingly, in general, a first edition book’s value increases with age. The anomoly in the 1950s is due to the influence of the Dr. Seuss books on the sample set.

Even though we consider Wanda Gag’s 1928 publication of Millions of Cats as the beginning of the contemporary children’s picturebook industry, the price guide does include works published prior to 1928 from notable picturebook illustrators.

These books were not picturebooks per se, more like chapter books with some accompanying pictures, however included illustrations from notables such as Johnny Gruelle, Maud & Miska Petersham, and Dorothy Lathrop.

(Video) Identifying Rare and Valuable Books

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Most Valuable First Edition Books By Decade

From the Children's Picturebook Price Guide, lists of the twenty most valuable books published in each decade:

  • Most Valuable Books of the 1930's
  • Most Valuable Books of the 1940's
  • Most Valuable Books of the 1950's
  • Most Valuable Books of the 1960's
  • Most Valuable Books of the 1970's
  • Most Valuable Books of the 1980's
  • Most Valuable Books of the 1990's

For some selected completed eBay auctions for children's picturebooks, covering the period from 1999 to 2006, then go to:

  • Completed eBay Auctions

© Stan Zielinski
A serious collector having fun with fun books.


FAQs

How can you identify a first edition book? ›

Look for the Words “First Edition” on the Copyright Page

This will fluctuate depending on the publishing house, but most publishers will designate that a book is a first edition on the copyright page.

What makes a first edition book valuable? ›

First Books (Not First Editions)

(And many didn't enjoy a second.) What makes a valuable first edition is the perfect confluence of rarity and demand – which is why, while there are exceptions, an author's first book, typically printed for a small audience, is the one most likely to achieve impressive prices.

Why do people collect first edition books? ›

Why? Primarily because a first edition is the physical manifestation of a particular moment in the life of a novel, and it can also reflect a significant time in the wider culture. To begin with, writers often participate in the production of the first edition.

How can I tell if my book is valuable? ›

In determining the value of a book there are three basic elements: 1) rarity, 2) condition, and, 3) demand. Books with the most value normally have all three of these elements, and the loss of any will likely result in a loss of value. Age of the book is not always a key factor in value.

What is the value of a first edition? ›

Dealers usually pay about 10-30% of the retail price of the book. So, if a dealer plans on pricing your book at $40, he may offer you anywhere between $4 and $12. A few (especially large, chain used bookstores) may pay less.

How do you price used books? ›

If it's in excellent condition, you can price it for about 55% of retail. For good condition, think 40% retail. If your book is in poor or fair condition, price it accordingly: think 20% of the retail price for poor, 30% for fair. Remember: it's easier to sell more aggressively -priced books!

What is so special about first edition? ›

The author is usually more invested and involved in the first printing process because it's the first time their work is born and introduced to the world. The first printing is also closer in time to the actual writing of the book than any other printing.

Do first edition books increase in value? ›

They tend to be the most sought after by collectors, plus modern first editions can be easier to obtain as you don't need to get your hands on older releases in order to make a profit. New releases can also grow significantly in value within the first few years of publication.

What is the definition of a first edition book? ›

Definition of first edition

: the copies of a literary work first printed from the same type and issued at the same time also : a single copy from a first edition.

How do you collect a first edition? ›

The publisher may actually state the words 'first edition' or 'first printing' on the copyright page. Another common method of identification is the number line – that's a line of numbers on the copyright page. Usually, if a one is present in the line then it's a first edition.

What is another word for first edition? ›

What is another word for first-edition?
rare bookearly edition
first editionsigned edition

What is the difference between first printing and first edition? ›

A first edition is the first printing of a book. It's true that a first edition may have one or more printings and that a second edition will normally be noted only if there are actual changes, usually major, in the text. But for a collector, a first printing is the only true first edition.

What makes a book collectible? ›

So what makes a book rare – and valuable? Unsurprisingly, the scarcity and uniqueness of the book is key. First editions and original bindings, signatures or inscriptions by the author or a famous owner are factors that can make a book more valuable.

What does the number line in a book mean? ›

The number line, or printer's key, often seen on the copyright page of books is simply a method of record-keeping that helps identify the book's printing and, for some, year of printing a specific book, which may or may not be different than the original copyright date listed elsewhere on the page.

What is a signed first edition? ›

First editions are distinguished from subsequent printings, as they represent the closest edition in time and intent to the author's original work. A signed first edition is a unique addition to any library, and to dealers and collectors, a signed first edition is the most desirable—and valuable—edition.

Are limited edition books valuable? ›

Just because a book is a limited edition does not always mean it is rare or collectible or valuable; always pay attention to the number of copies printed as supply can still outstrip demand with limitations. Limited editions are designed to be collectible.

How do I know if my green eggs and ham are first edition? ›

Note that on the first edition of Green Eggs and Ham, the front dust jacket cover must have the blurb '50 Word Vocabulary' as a sticker. The sticker is essential to identification as a first edition. Second and later printings have '50 Word Vocabulary' printed on the front dust jacket cover.

What is a good price to sell a book? ›

Consider your ebook's length when setting a price. For short stories (between 1,000-5,000 words), readers won't expect to pay much above $0.99. Longer novellas tend to sell for between $2.99 and $5.99. And for a novel, between $2.99 and $7.99 is usually profitable.

Are old books worth money? ›

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the old books have small to no value to collectors. Even though some specific books used to be scarce in a region, purchasing books online, both internationally and nationally, has made books' value go down.

Where can I sell my books? ›

Where To Sell Used Books: 6 Of The Best Places Online (And In...
  • BookScouter. I like to start with BookScouter.com. ...
  • Half Price Books. ...
  • Amazon. ...
  • 4. Powell's Books. ...
  • Online Buy Back Programs. ...
  • Your local indie.
31 Oct 2017

What do the numbers under first edition mean? ›

Number Lines:

Generally speaking, if the “1” is present, the book is a first edition (first edition, first printing). For the second printing, the “1” is removed, so the “2” is the lowest number present. For example, a number line that reads 5 6 7 8 9 indicates a fifth printing.

Is collecting books a good investment? ›

While we're told that books are an investment in ourselves, they can be just as strong of financial assets as mental ones. Unlike many popular vehicles, like cryptocurrency investments, book collections aren't as prone to peaks and valleys. The value of rare books tends to be more linear, making them reliable assets.

How much is a first edition Harry Potter book worth? ›

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The main characteristics of a 1997 first edition first issue are a print line that reads 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 and the crediting of "Joanne Rowling", not JK. Prices on AbeBooks vary from $40,000 to $55,000. A handful of advance proof copies are available from $7,500 to $13,500. '

Are Rare books an investment? ›

Rare books are a genuine class of alternative investment in that they clock along at their own pace – they are not directly linked to macro-economic trends in the stock market and property.

What is meant by edition in books? ›

1 : the form in which a book is published a paperback edition. 2 : the whole number of copies of a book, magazine, or newspaper published at one time the third edition. 3 : one of several issues of a newspaper for a single day the evening edition.

Are first trade editions valuable? ›

First editions are the most valuable, but only if they are true first editions, first printings. Therefore, if you get a book that's marked as a first edition, don't get excited immediately.

What is the difference between book editions? ›

An edition is when you make a significant change to a book. It doesn't count if you fix a few typos or art mistakes — the change has to be important. A new edition might change the cover image or the cover stock, the trim size, add an introduction or some back matter. or even all of those things.

Are books considered collectibles? ›

There's demand for a book if it's collectible. A book can be collectible for a variety of reasons, including the author, title, and topic; the press that printed it; the artwork inside it; and its significance in the history of the books, to name just a few. Not every book is collectible.

Why do books have editions? ›

Authors produce an edition when he or she has made some improvements to the book. It could be due to a request seeking the book's revision. The designation of a revised edition of a book is 'revised edition,' or 'revised and updated edition.

What is another word for edition? ›

What is another word for edition?
impressionissue
volumepublication
versioncopy
recensionredaction
revisionimprint
45 more rows

What is a synonym for the word edition? ›

In this page you can discover 28 synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, and related words for edition, like: version, format, impression, reprint, issue of a literary work, number, imprint, release, press run, copy and issue.

What is the synonym of a version? ›

annal. blow-by-blow. bulletin. chronicle. detail.

Why doesnt my book have a number line? ›

The idea here is an elimination game. In most cases, the first number on that number line indicates what printing that copy was a part of. With each printing, the publisher removes a number from the line of numbers.

Does first published mean first edition? ›

“First Impression,” “First Published,” or “First Printing” are other ways that publishers use to indicate the first edition. However, they do not always suggest that the book is the first edition. If the word “First Edition” is found on a book page with a number line, that number line should be complete.

What is an impression number in a book? ›

An impression is simply the number of times the printing press transfers ink to the paper. So, if a printing press makes 100 impressions in an hour, that means it has printed 100 copies of a book in that hour.

How old does a book have to be to be considered rare? ›

Age and Imprint

Any book published before 1900, especially on Americana, is potentially valuable. On the other hand, there are many rare books that are not more than 20 years old. Usually, these books are in demand and rare because of the combined factors of importance and scarcity.

How old does a book have to be to be considered vintage? ›

“Vintage” is another term often associated with books, and these are typically considered books more than 50 years old but less than 100. “Vintage books” tends to apply to collectibles, comics and mid-century volumes prized for their nostalgic value.

Is there an app that tells you what something is worth? ›

Google Lens is an app you probably already have on your phone as part of the Google search app. On the Google start screen, there is an icon of cross hairs or a small colorful box. Tap that box to open Google Lens, a handy feature for many reasons but especially for estimating the value of a collectible.

Is there an app to help identify antiques? ›

Find out how valuable your antiques are with ValueMyStuff. Find out how valuable your antiques are with ValueMyStuff.

Is there an app to find the value of items? ›

ShopSavvy is a powerful price-comparison app that lets you scan barcodes from your phone to find product reviews and pricing. You can also choose to input your product's name in the app's search engine. Once it's found your product, ShopSavvy will pull up the cheapest local or online price for it.

How can you identify a first edition book? ›

Identifying the First Edition of a Book

The publisher may actually state the words 'first edition' or 'first printing' on the copyright page. Another common method of identification is the number line – that's a line of numbers on the copyright page. Usually, if a one is present in the line then it's a first edition.

How can you tell if an old book is a first edition? ›

Look for the Words “First Edition” on the Copyright Page

This will fluctuate depending on the publishing house, but most publishers will designate that a book is a first edition on the copyright page.

How can you tell if you have a first edition Mockingjay? ›

The first edition is clearly identified by a photograph of Harper Lee credited to Truman Capote on the back of the dust jacket. Later printings replaced the photo with praise for the novel. The book was not made well: the binding tends to loosen upon reading, and the dark red dust jacket rubs and chips easily.

What does an ISBN number tell you? ›

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally.

What is the difference between a first edition and a first printing? ›

What and Why First Editions. A first edition is the first printing of a book. It's true that a first edition may have one or more printings and that a second edition will normally be noted only if there are actual changes, usually major, in the text. But for a collector, a first printing is the only true first edition.

Why doesnt my book have a number line? ›

The idea here is an elimination game. In most cases, the first number on that number line indicates what printing that copy was a part of. With each printing, the publisher removes a number from the line of numbers.

How many books are printed in a first edition? ›

For example: a publisher preparing a brand new book sets the type and prints 1000 copies–this is the first edition, first impression.

Can you sell a book without an ISBN? ›

ISBNs are not necessary to sell ebooks; none of the top online retailers require them. Printed books, however, cannot be sold without an ISBN. Remember that each version of your book would need a separate ISBN, and purchasing a block of 10 would be more cost-effective than purchasing one.

Why does a book have 2 ISBN numbers? ›

An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is intended to identify a unique edition of a book. Thus a hardcover edition of a book will carry a different ISBN than a paperback edition of the same book, and a revised edition of a book gets a new ISBN even if it carries the same title.

Does first published mean first edition? ›

“First Impression,” “First Published,” or “First Printing” are other ways that publishers use to indicate the first edition. However, they do not always suggest that the book is the first edition. If the word “First Edition” is found on a book page with a number line, that number line should be complete.

Are limited edition books valuable? ›

Just because a book is a limited edition does not always mean it is rare or collectible or valuable; always pay attention to the number of copies printed as supply can still outstrip demand with limitations. Limited editions are designed to be collectible.

Can you tell if a book is first edition by the ISBN number? ›

Generally speaking, if the “1” is present, the book is a first edition (first edition, first printing). For the second printing, the “1” is removed, so the “2” is the lowest number present. For example, a number line that reads 5 6 7 8 9 indicates a fifth printing.

What does CN mean on a book? ›

Sometimes book club editions will display full publishing data, sometimes they won't. I don't have solid data to back this up yet, but CN is probably referencing an in-house catalog number.

What do tiny numbers in books mean? ›

Thanks! The number line, or printer's key, often seen on the copyright page of books is simply a method of record-keeping that helps identify the book's printing and, for some, year of printing a specific book, which may or may not be different than the original copyright date listed elsewhere on the page.

How can you tell how many prints a book has? ›

In most cases with most publishers today the method from telling one printing from another is to look at the row of numbers at the bottom of the book's copyright page. The lowest number in the series is the number of the book printing.

What is another word for first edition? ›

What is another word for first-edition?
rare bookearly edition
first editionsigned edition

What makes something a first edition? ›

A first edition is a book that has been printed and distributed for the first time.

What is a book called before it is published? ›

Manuscript: An author's written material before it is typeset and printed. MS and MSS are the shorthand designations for "manuscript" or "manuscripts." Proofreading: A final proofing of the manuscript, usually focused on cleaning up any typographical errors before the manuscript is typeset.

Videos

1. Dr. Seuss-signed First Edition Books | Web Appraisal | Palm Springs
(Antiques Roadshow PBS)
2. TCG 1:15 - LanceFormation and his Fantastic Tolkien Book Collection
(Tolkien Collector's Guide)
3. The Cat in the Hat, Dr Seuss, First Edition.
(PeterHarringtonBooks)
4. Top 20 Most Valuable Children's Books You May Have
(The Auction Professor)
5. Rare Paddington Bear collectables - that are worth a lot!
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6. Weekly Skews 9/27/22 – J6 Committee Finale
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