Did you know that some of the books on your shelf could be worth hundreds or thousands of pounds? In particular, rare first editions of beloved books or ones that have been signed by the author can fetch a fortune.
One of the most famous examples of this is the first book in the Harry Potter series, entitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone/ Philosopher’s Stone. First editions of this book can be worth anywhere from £4,000 to £40,000. Therefore, if you have a large collection of books lying around, it can be worth checking to see whether you own any valuable books. RT Book Reviews has put together a list of books you have lying around that could make you some serious cash.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter books took the world by storm, becoming one of the most recognisable media franchises globally. First editions of the first book in the series can be worth a lot of money.
They can be worth up to £55,000. Printed under the title of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and first published in 1997, there were originally just around 500 copies of the book released; 300 copies of this book were given to libraries.
If you have a first edition of the UK print, it will have a print line of “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1”. Moreover, it will be printed under the name of “Joanna Rowling”, as this author had not yet developed the legendary pen name of J.K. Rowling.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby is considered an American classic. Set during the glitzy Jazz Age, the book tells the tragic story of the wealthy Jay Gatsby. This book was written by novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald and was first published in 1925.
Though the book was not commercially successful when it was first released, it is now highly valued. If you own a first edition with the original dust jacket, it may be within the region of £12,500 to a jaw-dropping £360,000.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The writing of J.R.R Tolkien has revolutionised the fantasy genre. Set in the world of Middle-Earth, The Hobbit tells the story of the titular hobbit, named Bilbo Baggins. Baggins starts a quest to reclaim valuable treasure from a dragon known as Smaug.
Original editions of The Hobbit from 1937 will be the most valuable copies. Just 1,500 copies were released, meaning that first editions are now worth approximately £65,000. Moreover, a first edition of The Hobbit with a special note from Tolkien himself sold for around £210,500 (£170,877) at auction.
However, later copies of the book can also fetch a handsome price. Though the book was popular, paper shortages caused by World War II meant that the book could rarely be reprinted.
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Casino Royale was the first book featuring the iconic spy named James Bond. Fleming’s debut novel was originally released in 1953. Casino Royale introduces the world to Bond, a secret agent who embarks on a mission to bankrupt a corrupt figure within the Russian secret service.
The book was highly-successful upon release and sold out within just one month. High-quality first editions of Casino Royale are amazingly rare, which is partially due to the dust jacket. As many collectors will already know, dust jackets are difficult to keep in pristine condition.
Decent copies of this first edition have been sold for £40,000. However, better-kept copies will be valued at an even higher price.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice is a classic novel that tells the story of Elizabeth Bennet. Set in the 18th century, Pride and Prejudice documents Elizabeth’s romance with the rich and mysterious Mr Darcy. Some of the central themes of this iconic novel are love, gender, marriage, and society.
Written by Jane Austen and originally published in 1813, this romance novel has become much-loved by fans. If you have a first edition of Pride and Prejudice, you could be sitting on a goldmine.
High-quality copies from 1813 can be worth as much as £100,000. Even if you have one of the second (later in 1813) or third (1818) editions of the book, it could still be worth a lot of money. Interestingly, the book was only worth 18 shillings when the book was first published.
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat is a quirky tale from the inventive mind of Dr. Seuss. This children’s book from 1957 features the titular anthropomorphic cat as he attempts to entertain two children.
When it was first released, The Cat in the Hat had a selling price of just £2. Later versions were sold for just £1.95. Today, first editions of this eccentric tale may have a price of up to £4,000 if it still has the dust jacket. Without this, the book could be worth between £50 to £100. This highlights the importance of retaining dust jackets for collectors.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a charming children’s book written by Beatrix Potter. This illustrated book tells the amazing adventures of Peter Rabbit. Entire generations have been enthralled by the tales of this mischievous rabbit.
Before being officially published in 1902, Potter had the book privately printed in 1901. Consequently, 250 copies were given to her friends and family members. In 2016, one of these rare copies was sold at auction for a massive £43,400, amounting to more than £51,000. The first official published versions can also be sold for around £14,000.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol is beloved by fans. The very first edition of the book is incredibly rare. 2,000 copies of the book were printed in 1865, but they were swiftly recalled. This was due to a request made by the illustrator, John Tenniel.
However, Carroll kept some editions of this first version, which he gave to friends and family members. There are now just 22 versions of this edition in existence. First editions of the book have been sold for millions of dollars thanks to their rarity. Second editions will also be worth a considerable amount of money.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
The third book in the Harry Potter series is named Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As mentioned, the first editions of the debut novel in this series are extremely valuable. Yet it’s worth noting that other entries in the series will be valuable if you manage to get your hands on a first edition.
Perhaps the second-most valuable book in the series is the Prisoner of Azkaban. The main reason why this third instalment is so valuable is due to a printing error. The first printing of the hardcover of the book originally featured the name “Joanna Rowling” on the copyright page instead of the author’s pseudonym, J.K. Rowling.
The first printings of this book will have the printing line '10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1'. This copy also has text misalignment on page seven. This version of the book can sell for up to £12,000.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Lord of the Flies is a tragic tale of a band of boys who find themselves stranded on a desert island. As they try to form a society, these boys soon devolve into immortality and anarchy.
Written by a Nobel Prize-winning writer and released in 1954, Lord of the Flies has since gone on to become a classic. Signed first editions will be prized possessions that can be worth up to £30,000.
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