People collect all sorts of items that can turn into good investments years down the line. One common object owned by people all over the world are books. They’ve been around for approximately 4,500 years, so there are quite a few that are considered valuable.
From first editions to rare prints, there are numerous novels that are highly sought after by bibliophiles. Those looking to bring in extra cash may want to clear the dust off their bookshelves and check to see if they have any on this list.
J.K. Rowling Couldn’t Hide This in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
Before Harry Potter was turned into a massive film sensation, it was a popular novel series by British author J.K. Rowling. Her first book of the series called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was first released on June 26, 1997.
The publisher only released 500 copies at first, with 300 only going to libraries and schools in the United Kingdom. This copy was also the only one to reference the author by her birth name of Joanne Rowling. For the lucky ones who managed to snag one of these rare novels, their worth ranges from $40,000 to $100,000.
Russian History Explored in War and Peace
Russian author Leo Tolstoy is best remembered for his 1,225-page literary masterpiece War and Peace. This novel is a glimpse back into Russian history as it chronicles the French invasion of Russia and the impact of the Napleonic era told through the eyes of five Russian aristocratic families.
While there are numerous copies printed, the first edition is the most valuable by far. It was released in 1869, so coming upon one of the original publishings is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. A U.S. first edition from 1885 is worth as much as $18,000.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Mishap Leads To Less Copies Sold
Disney fans may know Alice from the Walt Disney classic film, Alice in Wonderland, but the story has been around for centuries. In 1865 author Lewis Carroll released the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with only 2,000 copies available for the initial run.
One of the reasons why this edition is so valuable is due to the original artwork by illustrator John Tenniel. He was upset with how his illustrations looked in the first edition, so he was responsible for the limited number of copies. Within the last few years a first edition has racked up $2 to $3 million.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is Part of American History
Out of all the classic novels written by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is still regarded as a symbol for American literature. Twain published the book in 1876, which made it one of the first novels in history to be written on a typewriter.
Since it’s considered a piece of American history, the value of the book can go upwards as far as $92,500. There are also a small number of copies that were sold in London, England before it hit the shelves in America that have a high worth.
The Catcher in the Rye Was J.D. Salinger’s Only Novel
Although J.D. Salinger is one of the most famous authors in literary history, he’s only published one novel. Some readers may know him from his short stories, but nothing compares to his young adult book, The Catcher in the Rye. The story follows protagonist Holden Caulfield going through an adolescence filled with angst, alienation, and rebellion.
After it’s finished version was released on July 16, 1951 it became one of the most popular books of the 20th century. If someone has the first edition with its original dust jacket intact and the rest of the novel in near-mint condition it can sell for $75,000.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Is Now an Antique
Without L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Hollywood would’ve never made the hit film The Wizard of Oz that featured memorable songs, dances, wardrobes, and cutting-edge visual effects. He first penned the famous children’s book at the turn of the century in 1900 and included stunning images from illustrator W.W. Denslow.
Even over a century later Baum’s characters have been featured in films, TV shows, plays, and more. The first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is now considered an antique and can be sold for $100,000.
The Great Gatsby Typo is Worth Thousands
Some novels are an instant hit when they’re first published, while others take a bit of time to establish readership. The Great Gatsby is a look back on the Roaring Twenties in the United States and is a cautionary tale about what it takes to achieve the American Dream.
It struggled a bit when it was first released because it only sold 20,000 copies and received mixed reviews by literary experts. A first edition copy with the original dust jacket is worth $194,000. One way to tell if its a first edition is if there’s a typo on the back of the dust jacket that reads “jay Gatsby” with a lowercase “j.”
Pride and Prejudice Has Record-Breaking Sales
Jane Austen was a revolutionary writer for her time after publishing Pride and Prejudice in 1813. Since its release it’s become one of the most read novels in English literature and has sold over 20 million copies. It tells the tale of protagonist Elizabeth Bennet who deals with themes of marriage, social pressure, wealth, and judgment.
The success of Austen’s novel has led to various film and television versions that bring her characters and ideals to life on screen. Austen’s first edition of Pride and Prejudice has three volumes, which sell for around $185,000.
The Real Christopher Robin’s Influence on The Christopher Robin Story Book
Author A.A. Milne is the person behind all the original Winne the Pooh stories. One of his biggest inspirations for the characters was his real life son Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals. The Christopher Robin Story Book is a collection of some memorable selections from the first four Winnie the Pooh books.
The first edition was published in 1929 and is highly sought after by fans of the early Winnie the Pooh novels. If someone has a first edition copy that’s been kept in mint condition it should be worth around $20,000.
Name an Award The Grapes of Wrath Hasn’t Won
This 1939 novel is what made John Steinbeck a Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, and National Book Award-winning author. The Grapes of Wrath is set in America during the Great Depression and centers on a family that moves from Oklahoma to California to escape the Dust Bowl.
Finding a first edition copy in mint condition is a difficult task, but it’s worth it. If someone is looking to buy or sell one it can go for around $13,000. Even for those with a regular copy it’s still one of the most recommended books to read.
Lord of the Flies’ Title Changed at the Last Minute
Lord of the Flies was first released on September 27, 1954 and is still one of the most common books to be included in educational curriculum. The novel was written by Nobel Prize-winning British author William Golding and followed a group of boys who end up trapped on an island.
Before it was accepted for publishing it was named Strangers From Within, but that title was rejected because some readers thought it was too abstract and explicit. Since most book collectors look for novels in pristine condition, a first edition is worth about $11,000.
Jack Kerouac’s Unorthodox Writing Process for On the Road
If one book could summarize the underground culture in 1950s America, it’s On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It conveys a postwar United States that heavily focuses on the Beat and Counterculture generations and also incorporates elements like jazz music and poetry.
Something quite unique about Kerouac’s writing process was typing the entire novel on one continuous reel of paper. If someone is still holding on to an original copy it may be worth a little over $10,000.
Shakespeare’s Plays Were Saved Thanks to First Folio
William Shakespeare’s plays have outlived him by many centuries. They’re still taught in thousands of schools around the world, performed in grand theatres, and have been turned into several different books and TV shows. First Folio is a collection of 23 of his most well-known plays including Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Tempest.
It’s one of the oldest books on record after being published in 1623 and without it there’s a big chance that many of his plays would’ve been lost forever. In the unlikely chance someone owns a copy of this four century old book, it can be worth about $6.3 million.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Was Almost a Disney Movie
Not only did Beatrix Potter write The Tale of Peter Rabbit back in 1902, but she also did all of the illustrations. She originally wrote it for the son of her governess and decided to refine it to get published. The children’s story focused on a rambunctious young bunny named Peter Rabbit who gets chased around a garden owned by Mr. McGregor.
After its success Walt Disney asked Potter for the rights, so he could make it into a film. She refused because she thought it would be a scheme. A year before the book was released to the public Potter commissioned 250 copies for her friends and family, which are now worth over $56,000.
Lolita Brings Some Controversy
Lolita was seen as controversial when it first came out in 1955 and is still considered that way today due to its protagonist, unreliable narrator, and harsh subject matter. Russian author Vladimir Nabokov was apprehensive to publish it under his real name and it was rejected numerous times before the first 5,000 copies were made.
The first editions feature two green paperbacks that split up the novel into volumes one and two. One man sold his copies on Pawn Stars for $800 (pictured above), but he got the short end of the stick because they’re worth almost $9,000.
Animal Farm is Still Relevant Today
Even though Animal Farm was published in 1945, its satirical themes toward politics and dictatorship are still relevant in present day. The book examines what it was like during Stalin’s reign in the Soviet Union. Author George Orwell won many awards for writing the novel and it’s still taught in many schools in the United States.
In order for the original first edition copy to keep its worth it needs to be in the best condition possible. If someone owns one in mint condition it can sell for over $9,000.
Ulysses Gets an Obscenity Trial
One of Irish writer James Joyce’s literary masterpieces is Ulysses. It chronicles a protagonist named Leopold Bloom in Dublin, Ireland over the course of an ordinary day and is a parallel of the epic poem, Odyssey, by Homer. After almost a century the novel has been adapted into plays, films, TV shows, audio broadcasts, songs, and other works of prose.
Around the time the novel was first published it attracted a great deal of controversy, which led to an obscenity trial and other acts of scrutiny. Only 100 copies of first editions were published, so having one in perfect condition is worth about $355,000.
Dracula Was the Start of Vampire Culture
Only 1,000 copies of the first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula were created, so it’s extremely difficult for people to get their hands on one. This Gothic horror novel is the first telling of Count Dracula, which inspired the entire vampire fantasy genre.
It was introduced to the public towards the turn of the century in 1897 and actually did a lot better with modern readers versus those from the Victorian era. A signed first edition was recently put up for sale for $60,000.
In Our Time May Be the Rarest of Them All
One of the hardest novels to track down is a collection of short stories by Ernest Hemingway called In Our Time. Only 300 copies were printed, but due to a mishap only 170 of them were released and sold, while the other 130 were given to family and friends.
Each of the stories dealt with overarching themes of alienation, grief, and separation. The look of the front is a little wonky due to the woodcut portrait bleeding onto the front page. A first edition copy is worth around $322,000.
The Price of The Canterbury Tales is Unreal
After seeing the price of The Canterbury Tales after it sold would make most people do a double-take. Those looking to grab a copy and spend some time reading it should know that it contains 17,000 lines and is written in the outdated language of Middle English.
The size of the book is massive, but it’s often thought to be incomplete because author Geoffrey Chaucer wanted to add more stories before he passed on. If someone is still hanging on to a copy from 1476, the price comes in at roughly $11.2 million. This makes it one of the most expensive novels of all time.