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First Editions

Post 1

Gnomon - time to move on

As I've written elsewhere, I've just received a facsimile edition of the First Edition of Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'.

Apparently there were only 1,500 books in the first printing, and they can now fetch up to £50,000 at auction. One which was signed by the author in Elvish sold for £130,000.

There's a heart-warming tale of an old man in Dublin in the 1980s buying a second-hand copy of The Hobbit in a jumble sale (presumably paying a pound or two). He gave it to his granddaughter as a birthday present. Earlier this year, she got €30,000 for it in an auction.

This got me wondering whether our first editions of CS Lewis's Narnia books are worth anything. Mrs G bought six of the seven books in Greens' second-hand bookshop in the 1980s. They had all been previously owned by the same person. 'Prince Caspian' is missing from the set. Three of them appear to be first editions.

I lugged them into town yesterday and showed them to the guy in the rare bookshop. He wasn't interested. He said that without dustcovers they're worth very little, and they're not in great condition either.

On the tram home, I started reading The Magician's Nephew, and finished it later the same day. I remember reading that book in one day when I was only 8.

First Editions

Post 2


How does C S Lewis come across to you now? We got fed up with the Church of England-style stuffiness, reading them to our children. The Dufflepuds were a step too far in casual racism: they practically had Irish accents.

First Editions

Post 3


They might not be worth that much smiley - 2cents but to an active imagination they're priceless.


First Editions

Post 4

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

My maternal grandmother was a hobbyist collector of first edition books. Her prize was a first edition of _Gone With The Wind_. After her death, I went through the rest of her collection, picking out a few to read. Most of her "first editions" were not particularly collectible. I found a couple of books that appealed to me like an anthology of Hugo Award winners (including _Flowers For Algernon_ smiley - brave) and another SciFi short story anthology titled _Again, Dangerous Visions_. [,_Dangerous_Visions ]

Several years later, I took a close look at her _Gone With The Wind_. I looked online to get an idea of what it might be worth. This book didn't actually indicate on the title page that it was a first edition, but that wasn't the standard practice back then so I had to go by other clues, like the color of the cover, particular typos, etc.

Sadly, I discovered this was only a book club edition, and therefore basically worthless compared to the fortune we believed it to have been worth.

I still like getting first editions of my favorite books. Typically I do this just by simply buying them as soon as they're published. But a few years ago, I set about collecting all of DNA's books as first editions. My first look was on eBay and saw a few for sale at fairly appreciated prices, $80 - $100. But quickly I found those prices to be... aspirational. I was able to fill out my collection for under $50 total. Some I found in local used book stores, some on eBay. (I already had the last couple, purchased new.) As these are only the US editions, and all the books were widely popular, I don't expect them to appreciate significantly. But I, like my grandmother I suppose, just like to have first editions for their own sake.

(BTW, I wouldn't mind adding the original UK editions to my collection if anyone comes across any. I'll be glad to pick them up at the 20th anniversary meet up once that gets organized. smiley - winkeyesmiley - oksmiley - towel)

First Editions

Post 5

Gnomon - time to move on

It's hard to judge the Narnia books now because I loved them so much at the age of 8. Even then, however, I could see that the morality was laid on a bit thick, particularly in "The Silver Chair".

Jill's only "sin" was to show off that she wasn't scared of heights by standing at the top of a tall cliff. For this, she and Eustace had to endure a long adventure in which they got stuck in snow, were almost eaten by Giants and had to fight a serpent/witch.

Parts of the Narnia series were classics, though. "Prince Caspian" was good from start to finish, and it was Tashbaan in "The Horse and His Boy" that got me interested in Istanbul.

First Editions

Post 6

Gnomon - time to move on

I have a First Edition of "Doctor Doolittle in the Moon", which I got in a second-hand book shop in Charing Cross Road, London, for £6.

I reckon it is worth £6.

First Editions

Post 7

SashaQ - happysad

smiley - laughsmiley - ok

Yes, I like first editions, too, that there is something fascinating about holding one of the original batch, especially if it is over 100 years old...

I guess the run of the mill ones are worth more in the sense that they would sell in a charity shop for £5 or so compared to £1-2 for other books, but yes it is a rare first edition that would fetch thousands...

Very interesting about the changes to The Hobbit, and the facsimile sounds like the next best thing to the original indeed that it is faithful even to the correction on the cover smiley - ok

First Editions

Post 8

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

My aunt gave me a copy of "Doctor Doolittle" in the 1950s. probably not a first edition, though. smiley - flustered

First Editions

Post 9


The book "he Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana" by Umberto Eco is about a first edition (among many other things, but it drives the plot, by a dramatic twist). I really enjoyed it, unlike some Eco which I found pompous and tedious.

First Editions

Post 10

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

If you go to the dictionary and look under pompous or tedious you may see a picture of Eco. smiley - winkeye

First Editions

Post 11

Gnomon - time to move on

I thought that was a very strange book. The bits about the partisans living at the top of the cliff were good.

First Editions

Post 12

paulh. Bunnies are cute (There, I've said it)

An even stranger book was the one in which one of the main characters went to live in trees. smiley - online2long

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