Did you know that your old books could hold more than just sentimental value? If you have some lying around your home, it could be worth conducting a quick check to see if you’re in possession of a valuable antiquarian specimen.
To begin with, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the layout of your literature in order to track down the useful details. Begin by carefully opening your books to their copyright page and title page. From here you’ll be able to determine the year of publication, print edition, and any other specific, identifying details.
You can even enter these details into an online catalogue to track down any pertinent information regarding your antique book’s scarcity or uniqueness.
Factors That Affecting The Value of Antique Books
Now that you have majority of the key information before you, it’s time to figure out how these factors impact the value of your antique book.
The condition is usually the key determinant in your book’s value. Heavily worn books with substantial damage are going to have negligible financial value no matter how old or rare they may be. Assessing the technical quality of your book is almost an artform, with plenty of jargon used to describe certain signs of wear. It’s worth consulting an online resource to explain the signs to look for – such as staining, binding, tears, discolouration and splotching – and their exact impact on value.
As a general rule of thumb, the first edition of a book will hold more value than any later editions (unless there were limited edition or collector’s editions released later). If your old books contain features like a signature from the author or a rare author’s note, their value will increase further.
Most old hardcover books, particularly those from the 1900s, will have been initially sold with a dustcover. If you’re still in possession of the original dustcover, you can expect to see an increase in your book’s value. Conversely, a missing dustcover can prove costly.
As with any collectable item, the rarity or scarcity of your publication will play into how much it can fetch. If the market is saturated with identical copies, unfortunately the value of your own piece will be considerable diminished. If you’ve consulted online catalogues and believe your book is particularly rare, it could be worth organising an expert appraisal.
Getting a Second Opinion
If you aren’t confident of your appraisal or you’d like to seek a second opinion, there are professional resources available. Heading online to an old books marketplace can often help. An online marketplace allows you to input the publication details and receive an estimate of its value. You can also browse through similar publications to gain a rough approximation on what you could receive.
Alternatively, you can take your book to an expert for a formal appraisal. Be mindful that this will typically incur a fee. So, you’ll want to be confident that your books’ value is worth the upfront costs.