Evaluating Books

Individuals with old books or manuscripts in their possession often wonder how to ascertain the value of such material. Unfortunately, there is no single reference work or "price guide" which can be relied upon to provide the current values of antiquarian books, nor is there any simple way to explain in a few words how such values are determined.

The value of a book is affected by a variety of factors, including the intrinsic importance of the work, its scarcity, and collectors' interest in it. In general, the books most sought after are the great works of fiction, the humanities, and the sciences, usually in the first editions.

The value of a particular copy of any given book will be further affected by many other factors: its condition, its binding, its provenance, and the significance of any inscriptions it may contain.The evaluation of manuscript material, including letters and signatures of well-known people, involves still other considerations.

Inquiries regarding the evaluation of specific items should be directed to ABAA members specializing in the kind of material offered. Inquiries should include the following information (usually found on the title page): author, title, date, place of publication, publisher, and edition. A description of condition and any defects or issues of note should also be included. 

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