How do I Determine the Value of Antique Books?

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  • Written By: Jillian Peterson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Whether you are a collector with a vast book collection or you just stumbled across some old books, it can be hard to find the value of antique books on your own. You can get an antiques dealer or appraiser to help you find the value of an antique book, purchase a book value guide, or search antique book appraisal websites. Before getting an appraisal, you can examine certain factors that will affect the value of antique books yourself, including the condition, the edition number, and the rarity of the book. With these things in mind, you can get the most for your antique books at antiques stores, book markets, or online auctions.

The most important factor in determining the value of antique books is the condition of the book. Usually, the more complete and clean a book is, the more it will be worth. Things like scratches on the cover, torn pages, writing or marks on the pages, wear on the edges of the pages, or water damage can seriously impact the value of an antique book. While certain signs of age like yellowed pages or cracked leather covers are to be expected, major damage — especially damage that makes a book unreadable — will lower the value considerably.


Another factor that can affect the value of antique books is the edition number. First editions are more valuable in general than other editions, but even first editions can be less valuable if there are many of them. Some of the most valuable first editions are part of a small printing or editions that were printed before an author became popular.

Ultimately, rarity will determine the value of antique books more than edition numbers. This goes back to basic supply and demand economics. If there is a small supply of a book, and a large demand, the value will increase. Antique books that were published in small editions or are not readily available will be more valuable than books that are in plentiful supply.

Other factors that can affect the value of antique books are historical significance, complete sets of books, and the author’s signature. If a book has historical significance in its subject matter, original owner, or inscription, it can be more valuable than another book of the same age in the same condition. Antique book collections can also be worth more if all books are part of a complete set in good condition. Also, if an antique book is signed by the author, it can be more valuable than an unsigned book.


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