Category: Literature

The first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published in 1960 by J. B. Lippincott in Philadelphia in Hardcover. It was Lee’s first and only book (until 2015, when Go Set a Watchman was published) and was instantly acclaimed, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for 1960. There is some controversy on the authorship, with some thinking that it was actually written by Truman Capote. It is estimated that only 5,000 copies were printed of the first printing.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by J. B. Lippincott Company.
  • “First Edition” stated on the copyright page below the copyright information. Later printings are also stated in this format: “Twenty-third Impression”. If no printing is stated it is a book club edition.
  • Capote quote in green ink on front flap.
  • $3.95 price on the bottom of front flap ( didn’t change on later printings but is helpful to rule out book club editions).
  • No mention of printing on front flap of dust jacket (later printings are stated by printing like: “Second Printing”)
  • Some first printings have Shirley Ann Grau and Phyllis McGinley reviews on the rear flap and some have a Jonathan Daniels on the rear flap. It seems that there is a preference for the Daniels state.
  • Photo of Lee on the rear panel of the dust jacket (not a real point as this was kept until the third printing and also appeared on early book club editions. However any printings, even book club editions that have the author photo are in demand).

Check for the letters FEL on the rear flap as a FACSIMILE reprint was issued that is exactly the same except for those letters.

Value:
First Printing:
Fine in Dust Jacket, $40,000
Very Good in Dust Jacket, $12,000
Fine without DJ, $4000
Very Good without DJ, $1500
Second Printing:
Fine in Dust Jacket, $4500
Very Good in Dust Jacket, $1500
Other Printings up to the Tenth are worth between $50 for a nice Tenth to $1800 for a nice Third Printing.
Book Club Editions that have the Harper Lee photo of the back are worth up to $200 for a very nice example.

First UK Edition Published by Heinemann in 1960 (Points: “FIRST PUBLISHED IN GREAT BRITAIN 1960” with no additional printings listed and jacket priced at 16s.):
Fine in Dust Jacket: $4000
Very Good in Dust Jacket: $750

Signed copies usually command at least a couple hundred more but signed first editions are fairly hard to find so expect quite a bit more on signed first editions.

First Editions of this book on Abebooks

Literature

Literature

The first edition of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand was published in 1957 by Random House in New York. It was published in green cloth with a colorful dust jacket…

Literature

The first edition of East of Eden by John Steinbeck was published in 1952 by The Viking Press in New York.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by The Viking Press
  • “First published by the Viking Press in September 1952” stated on copyright page with no mention of later printings.
  • Photo of Steinbeck on the rear panel of the dust jacket (later printings have reviews instead).

Some claim that “bite” on page 281, line 38 (instead of “bight”) as a first issue point but this error appears on at least the second printing and perhaps the book club edition.
The is also the Signed Limited issue of the First Edition which has the same points but with Steinbeck’s signature and limitation notice and was issued in a glassine dust jacket and slipcase.

Value:
Limited Edition:
Fine, $4500
Very Good, $2500
Trade Edition:
Fine, $2500
Very Good, $400-$600

First Editions of this book on Abebooks

References:
Goldstone, Adrian H.; Payne, John R. John Steinbeck: A Bibliographical Catalogue Of The Adrian H. Goldstone Collection. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974.

John Steinbeck Literature

The first edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published in 1925 by Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York. Often said to be the greatest American novel of the 20th century.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons
  • Date on 1925 on title page
  • Scribner seal on copyright page
  • On page 60, line 16 is the word “chatter” (later states read “echolalia”)
  • On page 119, line 22 is the word “northern” (later changed to “southern”)
  • On page 205 , lines 9-10 is the word “sick in tired” (later changed to “sickantired”)
  • On page 211, lines 7-8 is the words “Union Street Station” (later states read “Union Station”)
  • On back of dust jacket line 14 has a lowercase “j” in “jay Gatsby” which is hand-corrected in ink (on most copies) or overstamped (a few copies) with a capital “J”.
  • Second state had the error corrected on the dust jacket.
  • First UK edition published by Chatto and Windus has “Published 1926” on copyright page.

Value:
First State with Dust Jacket: Very Good, $100,000+, Fine, hard to say but maybe as high as $250,000
First State without Dust Jacket: Very Good, $2500-$3000 (This is what most collectors buy!), Fine, $10,000
Second State with Dust Jacket: Very Good, $50,000+, Fine, $100,000+
Second State without Dust Jacket: Very Good, $1000, Fine, $2500
First UK Edition with Dust Jacket: Very Good, $12,500, Fine, $25,000
First UK Edition without Dust Jacket: Very Good, $2000

First Editions of this book on Abebooks

References:
Bruccoli, Matthew J. F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987. Revised Edition.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Literature

The first edition of Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was published in 1936 by The Macmillan Company in New York. It consisted of only about 5000 copies. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the next year. It went on to at least 100 more printings and is one of the bestsellers of all time.

First Edition Points:

  • Date of 1936 on title page (if there is no date on the title page it is a book club edition)
  • “Published May, 1936” on copyright page
  • “GONE WITH THE WIND” in the right column on the rear panel of the dust jacket
    In the second printing “GONE WITH THE WIND” was moved to the very top of the left column
    In later printings there were reviews of Gone with the Wind on the rear panel

Early printings can identified to the printing by counting the printings on the copyright page:

“Set up and electrotyped. Published June, 1936 [2nd].
Reprinted June (twice) [3rd & 4th], July (three times) [5th, 6th, 7th],
August (six times) [8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th], September, 1936 (four times) [14th, 15th, 16th, 17th],
October, 1936 (six times) [18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd]”

Making the example I used a 23rd printing. I have labeled the printings in brackets to explain how to identify which printing you have. For even later printings just continue counting each printing mentioned and remember that May isn’t listed so count that first than June and so on. Printings continue to be labeled this way into November, December, January of 1937, February, March, April, the years 1938, 1939, 1940 and so on.

The Photoplay Movie Edition, which was labeled “Motion Picture Edition” was issued in January, 1939.
It was illustrated with stills from the movie starring Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh. It was issued both in wraps (softcover) and in hardcover with dust jacket.

Book Club editions generally have less pages (while the trade edition had 1037 pages) and do not state any printings on copyright page. If it has the date in roman numerals it is a book club edition.

The first edition book is often sold with later printing or facsimile dust jackets. Watch out for those who state that their book is a First Edition without providing these points.

Value:
First Edition of Dust Jacket:
Fine, Perhaps $40,000 but very hard to find a Fine/Fine example, if signed with good provenance $100,000
Very Good, $6000-$7500, if signed $15,000
First Edition without Dust Jacket
Very Good, $750-$1000, if signed $4,000
The Second Printing “Published June, 1936” is worth about $500 in dust jacket, if signed $2,000
Other early printings in dust jacket generally sell for between $50 and $150, without dust jacket between $10 and $40
Any later printings with Mitchell’s signature would be worth at least $1,000.

Motion Picture Edition (December, 1939) Paperback is worth about $35 and the hardcover with dust jacket is worth at least $250 for the first printing of this edition.
The Grosset & Dunlap (1939) photoplay edition is worth about $100 in a nice dust jacket.

Many collectors also buy each individual printing they can find so they can have a complete set of the printings of Gone with the Wind. Several of these printings are harder to find in dust jacket than the First Printing.

First Editions on Abebooks and Ebay

Many collectors also buy Gone with the Wind memorabilia and collectibles such as plates, figurines, movie posters, documents or photos signed by Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, lamps, dolls, etc. If you are interested in these type of items I would suggest you search eBay. It’s probably the best place to find those type of items.

Literature

Old Man and the Sea First Edition
Old Man and the Sea First Edition. Compliments of lfmbooks.

The first edition of The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was published in 1952 by Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York. Though after it was published it was received with several awards, including the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature, it was not printed in as high of numbers as the first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

It was bound in light blue cloth with silver lettering. The dust jacket is blue and brown with a scene of huts and fishing boats on the edge of a sea. The rear panel of the dust jacket has a photo of Hemingway.
Priced at $3.00.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by Charles Scribner’s Sons
  • Date on title page
  • Both Scribner seal and “A” are found on the copyright page
  • No mention of the Book Club or the Pulitzer Prize on the front flap of the dust jacket

Later printings have the same price so price is not an issue point but you need to be careful of book club editions which are stated at the bottom of the front flap. Some say the tint of the photo on the rear panel of the dust jacket is an issue point but most booksellers, myself included, disregard this as an invalid point.

Rear panel of the first edition dust jacket:

Old Man and the Sea First Edition Rear Panel

Value:
Fine, $3000-$4000.
Very Good, $750-$1000, perhaps occasionally available for a bit less.

First Editions of this book on Abebooks

References:
Hanneman, Audre. Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.

Ernest Hemingway Literature

Grapes of Wrath first edition

The first edition of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was published in 1939 by The Viking Press in New York. It was published to instant acclaim, is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and remains one of the great highspots in literature.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by Viking Press
  • “FIRST PUBLISHED IN APRIL 1939” on copyright page
  • No mention of later printings
  • Dust jacket has $2.75 price in top corner and stated first edition in bottom corner of front flap

Later printings are stated but Book Club editions do not have any printing statements.
If your copy does not mention “”FIRST PUBLISHED IN APRIL 1939” on the copyright page it is either a book club edition or a much later printing.

Grapes of Wrath first edition copyright page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value: Fine, $12,500 to $15,000, Very Good, $2000 to $3000

First Editions of this book on Abebooks

First Editions of this book on Biblio

References:
Goldstone, Adrian H.; Payne, John R. John Steinbeck: A Bibliographical Catalogue Of The Adrian H. Goldstone Collection. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974.

John Steinbeck Literature

The first edition of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace was published in 1880 by Harper & Brothers in New York. It was published in blue cloth. It was later made into the 1959 movie starring Charlton Heston.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by Harper & Brothers
  • Date of 1880 on the title page
  • 6 word dedication on dedication page reading “To the Wife of My Youth”
    This was changed in 1883 to “To the Wife of My Youth Who Still Abides with Me”

Any copy without 1880 on the title page but with the six word dedication is a later printing but before 1884.
This does not mean they are second issues, it just means they are later printings.
Many of the copies offered as first editions, especially on Ebay, are not. But if you verify these points with the bookseller you can be sure you are getting the true first edition.

Value: Fine, about $1500, Very Good, about $500.

First Editions of this book on Abebooks

Literature

The first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway was published in 1940 by Charles Scribner’s Sons in New York. It was one of Hemingway’s more successful books and had a large printing run of over 100,000 copies. However it can be a bit hard to find a Fine copy.
It was published in oatmeal colored cloth stamped in red and black. Dust Jacket front panel and spine are black with red and white lettering. Rear panel has a photo of Hemingway. Dust Jacket was priced $2.75 on front flap.

First Edition Points:

  • Published by Scribner
  • 1940 date on title page
  • “A” on copyright page below copyright info
  • No Scribner seal (one of the exceptions to the rule!)
  • First State has no mention of photographer’s name in the caption of the photo on the rear panel of the dust jacket
  • Second State has mention of photographer’s name

Value:
First State: Very Good $500-$700, Fine $2000-$2500.
Second State: Very Good $150-$200, Fine $400-$500.
Signed copies generally sell for between $5000 and $16000 depending on the importance of the inscription.

First Editions on Abebooks and Ebay

References:
Hanneman, Audre. Ernest Hemingway: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967.

Ernest Hemingway Literature