Most famous first edition books

You may not have given it much consideration when you picked up your first Harry Potter book or that worn edition of The Catcher in the Rye at a yard sale, but you should reconsider. Using pricing from Shapero and other book sellers and auction houses, here are some highly desirable first editions and how much they are worth. Find out which books are worth a fortune by clicking or scrolling through the list. It’s worth noting that the greatest prices are reserved for flawless first-edition hardcover editions with their original dustjacket covers, if applicable.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Many people would own a copy of Helen Fielding’s best-selling 1996 novel, which has subsequently been adapted into many blockbusters Hollywood films. A first edition of Bridget Jones’s Diary may fetch up to $375 (£300), with an autographed copy fetching up to $660 (£500). A tiny yet significant profit.

The Ruby in the Smoke

The Ruby in the Smoke, the first in Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart quartet, was published in 1985. Due to its rising rarity, the detective mystery is expected to become a modern collectible, and an autographed first edition is presently worth over $930 (£750). The collection may be worth up to $1,920 (£1,550) if you have all four autographed first edition volumes.

Robert Graves’ autobiography

Robert Graves’ autobiography, written frankly and honestly, was published in 1929. Graves described the piece in the second edition over 30 years later as his “sad leave-taking of England, where [he] had just shattered a good many traditions.” The author’s prologue is missing from the original edition, yet a well-kept copy may bring up to $2,500 (£2,020).

Good-Bye to All That

Irvine Welsh’s gritty modern novel set in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, about addiction, crime, and poverty has become a cult classic, thanks to its immensely successful film version directed by Danny Boyle. Welsh’s autograph on a first-edition uncorrected proof copy might now bring up to $3,500 (£2,830).

Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall’s earliest editions included a disclaimer from the author that stated, ‘Please bear in mind that IT IS MEANT TO BE FUNNY throughout,’ to ensure that readers understood what to anticipate from the book. A first edition of Waugh’s comic novel about the misfortunes of Paul Pennyfeather, published in 1928, is now worth an astounding $8,055 (£6,500).

The Pothunters

In 1902, English novelist PG Wodehouse released his debut novel, The Pothunters, which was another early twentieth-century comedy. Anyone who has a first copy of the book will be sitting on a tidy sum of $8,055 (£6,500).


The Talented Mr. Ripley

A perfect first copy of this famous comic novel, first published in 1953, is now worth $8,365 (£6,750). Surprisingly, autographed copies on the market today aren’t worth as much as damaged spines and holes in the covers, which have devalued the collectibles.

The Waste Land

The first of five novels starring main character Tom Ripley, Patricia Highsmith’s 1995 psychological thriller about stolen identities, murder, and money is the first of five. It’s the most precious of the bunch, with an autographed first edition from the US fetching up to $9,500 (£7,680).

The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

A first edition copy of TS Eliot’s lengthy poem The Waste Land, regarded by many as one of the most important works of both vintage and modern poetry, sells for approximately $11,000 (£8,875). A mint-edition copy of the poet’s whole works is now on sale for $52,500 (£42,365), so if you really want to be in the money, you’d be better off with that.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was JM Keynes’ final book, and it challenged the economic world of the 1930s in a way that none of his predecessors had. A first copy of the landmark work, which gave macroeconomics its primary place in economic theory, is today worth at $12,500 (£10,000).

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell’s dystopian classic, established themes that are frequently utilized in analyzing our contemporary political atmosphere, as well as inspiring the international television franchise Big Brother. You may make $12,500 (£10,000) if you own a first edition of this book.

Animal Farm

Orwell authored the politically astute and well researched Animal Farm almost a decade before releasing Nineteen Eighty-Four. George Orwell’s novel criticizes Stalin’s ideology in the Soviet Union by chronicling the uprising of a group of rebellious farm animals who go on to form their own community. A first edition of the book is worth $12,500 (£10,000) in excellent condition. Collectors aren’t just interested in Orwell’s tales; any communication involving the author may be worth a lot of money. For example, letters between Orwell and his first publisher discussing Animal Farm are presently on sale for a whopping $124,000 (£100k).

The Time Machine

Because of The Time Machine’s extraordinarily creative, far-beyond-its-years narrative, HG Wells is regarded as the godfather of science fiction. If autographed by the author, a first print of this 1895 book might today fetch up to $7,500 (£6,060). A first-edition copy with the autographs of actors Rod Taylor and Alan Young is also in circulation and is presently for sale for $15,000 (£12,120).

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Philip K. Dick is one of the most well-known science fiction writers of the twentieth century, yet he was relatively unknown throughout his lifetime. As a result, his work’s first print runs were tiny, and he rarely signed books, boosting the value of any first-edition copies bearing his signature. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Which served as the basis for the Blade Runner films) was released in 1968, and original editions have been reported to sell for as much as $15,000 (£12,120).

The Postman Always Rings Twice

The Postman Always Rings Twice is a dark twentieth-century psychological thriller that went on to become a huge hit following its release in 1934. The novel was famous for its startling descriptions of violence and sensuality at the time, which led to it being banned in areas of the United States. A first edition copy of this book is worth around $7,500 (£6,060), with some autographed copies fetching as much as $20,000 (£16,140).

Final words

These are some of the most valuable first edition books that you can find. If you can collect any of these books, make sure that you get it without thinking twice. Then you can get the best returns coming on your way.

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