Friday, December 18, 2009

First editions

Every dream of finding a rare find at a garage sale? Your grandparents attic has a collection of valuable stamps, books or coins? I heard of parents tossing out men's childhood hockey or baseball cards, throw away a valuable collectors Star Wars toy, and all sorts of sob stories.

Recently a first edition Anne of Green Gables book sold for a staggering 24,000US. Or the rare first edition copy of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" that was auctioned for $171,000 US.

Of course the question is, how do you know if the book is a first edition?

According to various sites this is how you know it is...

General Guidelines for Identifying a First Edition

The words "First Edition", "First Printing", "First Published", "Published", or "First Impression" appears on the copyright page.

A number line (used int he post WWII era) that generally are a series of numbers (ie. 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1) and if the "1" is present, the book is a first edition. For a second printing the "1" is removed so the "2" is the lowest number present.

Sometimes discrepancies occur when a person finds page with both the "First Edition" designation and a number line (9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2). In that case one of two situations can apply.

The book is a first edition and the "First Edition" line will be deleted during second printing (Random House method).
The book is a second printing and it was an error.

Before you start hopping up and down as you've discovered a virtual treasure cove of first runs let me remind you that most are not overly valuable. It all depends on the scarcity, quality, age etc...

One example is Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. First published by Bloomsbury in 1997 that was not anticipated be a great success. Only 500 copies were made for sale. In June 2007 it sold for an impressive ($14,000 aprox).