24 Antique Books with High Value: A Collector’s Dream

While some antique books sell for pennies at thrift stores and used bookshops, others are sold for more than the price of a new house. First editions or special editions of iconic literary works can sell for thousands and, in some cases, millions. People value first editions, copies signed by the author, misprints, original dust jackets, and other features that make a book more compelling to own.

When you find out how much people paid for a vintage copy of their favorite book, your jaw will hit the floor.

1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Image Credit: Abe Books.

This enduring love story is many people’s favorite book and one of Emily Bronte’s best works. The novel was first published in 1847, and first-edition copies have recently sold for well over $100,000. Other first editions of books by the Bronte sisters are also wildly valuable.

2. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Image Credit: Sothebys.

This tantalizing detective novel sold for over $50,000. The Maltese Falcon revolutionized the world of mystery literature and is still the blueprint for detective stories, and first editions can likely get even more money if sold today. A statue of the falcon from the movie was also sold for an incredible sum.

3. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Image Credit: Aleph-bet Books / Wiki Commons.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, also sometimes titled Peter Rabbit, is a beloved children’s book. While first editions of the book are valuable, the author had a private publishing of the book before the first printing, and those copies are valued at around $50,000. Some collectors are willing to pay even more because of the story’s sentimentality.

4. Ulysses by James Joyce

Image Credit: Peter Harrington.

Ulysses, at nearly 1,000 pages long, is practically worth its weight in gold nowadays. A first edition copy of Joyce’s incredible epic sold for over $350,000 just over a decade ago. This controversial novel was once banned from stores but is now a coveted item for which people will pay a fortune.

5. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming

Image Credit: Setanta Books.

Casino Royal was published in 1953, and there are still some first editions floating around that people will pay large sums for. A first edition copy of this exciting spy novel can sell for close to $25,000 and Bond novels from around the same time, such as Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, and Dr. No, but Casino Royale is the most valuable.

6. ​​Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

Image Credit: Sotheby’s.

You may not consider Harry Potter vintage, but since it was published in 1997, it’s creeping toward its 30th anniversary. One of the original copies can fetch around $50,000 from a collector. Interestingly, the first editions of the following books are not worth nearly as much.

7. First Folio by William Shakespeare

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

While this title may not ring a bell, you’d probably recognize one of the 23 Shakespearean plays within it. First Folio includes The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet, and a copy sold for an insane $5.2 million in 2006. That means someone paid over $225,000 per play!

8. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway

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Hemingway is considered one of the most prolific American writers of his time, and his talent is exemplified in In Our Time. Only 170 of the 300 first editions were sold due to a printing error, and the other 130 were given away. Any first edition can sell for more than $250,000. But the ones with the printing error are precious.

9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Image Credit: Jane Austen’s House.

Unsurprisingly, people will pay thousands for an original copy of a Jane Austen book. While many first editions of her novels are worth significant sums, Pride and Prejudice is one of the most impressive, selling for over $175,000 in 2010 in London. Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion can also sell for thousands.

10. “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer

Image Credit: National Library of Wales.

The first edition of The Canterbury Tales came out in 1477, and it’s thought that there are only 12 copies left in existence. In 1998, one of these copies sold for over $5 million at auction. Who knows how much one could sell for today? The Canterbury Tales showcases Chaucer’s brilliance and clever wit.

11. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Image Credit: Francis Cugat / Charles Scribner’s Sons.

A classic American novel, The Great Gatsby is one of the most important literary works of the 20th century. A first edition in decent condition and with the dust jacket intact is valued at around $200,000. These first editions are easy to recognize because of a capitalization typo on the back,

12. Tamerlane and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Image Credit: Cornell University.

Over the years, people have only become more infatuated by the grim work of Edgar Allan Poe. Many of his works are worth a small fortune today, but there were only 50 copies of Tamerlane and Other Poems*, making it one of the most valuable books. One edition sold for over $650,000.

13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Image Credit: Michael Mitchell – Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

This iconic novel is all the more valuable because Salinger never published another book. A first edition of The Catcher in the Rye, with the dust jacket and cover intact, can sell for as much as $75,000. As one of the great American novels, it’s no wonder people will pay so much for an original copy.

14. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Carroll’s fantastical novel has been adapted into several movies and even other works of literature, but nothing compares to the original. Only 2,000 first editions were printed, but a printing mistake means they were never released. Nevertheless, Carroll gave out some copies to friends and family, and one of those is worth two or three million dollars.

15. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Image Credit: Abe Books and Peter Harrington.

Great Expectations was originally published in three volumes, so finding all three books from a first-edition set is tricky, and individual volumes are not worth as much. But if you manage to obtain all three volumes of this incredible novel, you might be able to get over $125,000 at an auction.

16. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Image Credit: Bookbid Rare Books.

You may not consider this one an antique, but the lovable story about Bridget Jones is almost 30 years old. While a first edition isn’t worth as much as Dickens and Himginway’s novels are, you could still get around $200 for one. If it’s signed by Fielding, you could earn over $500.

17. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Image Credit: Vanessa Bell / Wiki Commons.

Virginia Woolf’s profound novel was first printed in 1927 and explores interesting themes surrounding being a person, especially a woman. There were initially 3,000 copies, so first edition copies aren’t wildly rare, but a mint-condition copy with the dust jacket can sell for over $15,000, while most other copies go for at least $1,000.

18. Animal Farm by George Orwell

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A novel that showcases the power of metaphor, Animal Farm is a historically and literary important novel. A first edition of Orwell’s iconic story can sell for more than $7,000 today, depending on the condition. First editions of Nineteen Eighty-Four are also sought after.

19. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Image Credit: Faber & Faber / Pentagram.

Most of us read Lord of the Flies in middle or high school and were likely horrified by the story, so maybe you have a copy on your bookshelf. Well, if it happens to be a first edition, you could get close to $10,000 for it from the right collector! However, it typically needs to be a pristine copy.

20. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss ​​

Image Credit: David Brass Rare Books.

The Cat in the Hat might be Dr. Seuss’s most recognizable book, and it’s a wonderful children’s classic. A first edition with the original dust jacket, which is hard to come by, is estimated to sell for roughly $13,000, but these books only become more valuable over time.

21. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Image Credit: Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.

Tolkien’s famous story, The Hobbit, is one of the more valuable antique books. This children’s book came out in 1937 and was the preamble to Tolkien’s thrilling trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Today, a first edition is worth over $200,000, and the first editions of the trilogy are also worth something.

22. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Marley's Ghost. Ebenezer Scrooge visited by a ghost.
Image Credit: John Leech / British Library.

A Christmas Carol has been adapted into many movies, musicals, and more, making it one of the most well-known tales. The book came out in 1843, and first editions can sell for as much as $75,000, but the high number of first editions in existence makes them slightly less valuable.

23. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wicked Witch of The West, melting after being doused by Dorothy. From the first edition of The Wizard of Oz.
Image Credit: William Wallace Denslow / Library of Congress.

It would be hard to find someone who doesn’t know the story of Dorothy, whether from Baum’s delightful book or the dazzling movie adaptations. This enduring story has stood the test of time, making antique copies desirable. First editions are hard to find, but they can sell for between $10,000 and $20,000 at the right auction.

24. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Image Credit: Christie’s.

Stoker’s chilling tale of the infamous vampire has profoundly influenced pop culture to this day, making way for tales like Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. First editions of Dracula often sell for over $5,000, but a copy signed by Stoker can be worth triple that, if not more. One copy he signed with a note for his brother sold for $33,000.

The post 24 Antique Books with High Value: A Collector’s Dream first appeared on Thrift My Life.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.