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Antiques and Collectables for Beginners: Collectable Books

Updated on June 11, 2013

Do you have old dusty books sitting in a box in your basement right now? If so, you may be sitting on a potential gold mine. Collectible books are hard to come by these days, because so many people like you have packed them away and forgotten about them. Digging through your forgotten collection of books might turn up something valuable, if you know what to look for.

Books can be considered collectable for a number of reasons, so if you are looking to determine of your book is a collectable book, here are some of the things the things the experts look for:

Scarcity or Rarity

One of the first things an expert will look for is if a book is a First Edition. First Editions are usually scarce, because the first run of a published book is usually the smallest run, to determine if the book will sell before printing more books. You can determine if your book is a First Edition by looking up the publishing date, if this date coincides with the official first publishing date than you have a First Edition, you can also look for a printers key which will normally be a set of numbers between 10 and 1, if the number 1 is included in this key than you have a First Edition. On some occasions the book might have a publishing statement that will say First Edition.

Books can be scarce for other reasons, and it will make them just as collectable. Some examples of reasons why a book may be scarce are older books (usually through the passage of time many prints of older books get destroyed), historically banned books (books that were once outlawed and destroyed for one reason or another), and limited quantity books (books that were only meant for a certain amount of people).

Author or Illustrator

If the book was written by an acclaimed author, or illustrated by a well-known illustrator your book may be a collectible book. If you had a First Edition of the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carl who wrote and illustrated the book, this would be a good example of a collectable book.

Condition, Binding, and Signatures

Experts will also look to see the condition of the book. If the book is in mint condition, complete with the dust jacket it's more collectable. If the book has a unique or special binding it can be considered more collectable. An example of a special binding would be an Anthropodermic binding (human flesh). Lastly if your book was signed by the famous author or illustrator it would be considered more collectable.

If when searching through your dusty old books in the basement, you find a book with any or all of these characteristics, you may have just discovered a hidden treasure. The best way to find out is to visit your local book expert and get his opinion, but these tips will serve you in a pinch.

Are you storing books in your basement?

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    • PHILLYDREAMER profile imageAUTHOR

      Jose Velasquez 

      7 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      You must have quite the collection now then. Thanks for reading.

    • unknown spy profile image

      Life Under Construction 

      7 years ago from Neverland

      I've been collecting books since time immemorial. These are great books! My grandfather used to have these kind of books. I love every kind of books. My first dream was to own a library, so I asved every penny I have to buy one. :) Great hub, love the titles of books.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile imageAUTHOR

      Jose Velasquez 

      7 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      I'm glad you like it. I hope it will help people learn more about collecting books.

    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 

      7 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      thanks, nice overview

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile imageAUTHOR

      Jose Velasquez 

      7 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      Thanks Johnathan, it took me all day to research this one.

    • PHILLYDREAMER profile imageAUTHOR

      Jose Velasquez 

      7 years ago from Lodi, New Jersey

      I might have to look into boardgames for my next article.

    • Johnathan L Groom profile image

      Johnathan L Groom 

      7 years ago from Bristol, CT

      not bad, not bad-

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      i had been collecting "board games" since i was 8


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