Collecting Antique Books
Just like collecting other antiques, collecting antique books requires a great deal of knowledge because not every old book is valuable. While some people aren’t even aware of the value of the books on their bookshelves, others are extremely disappointed to find out that what they thought was worth a fortune is virtually worthless. The first rule in collecting antique books is therefore learning to distinguish between old and antique books.
Why Some Old Books Are Only Old and Others Antique?
Antique book market is pretty much all about demand and supply. Books that are rare and highly sought after automatically have a higher price because there are many collectors who want them and are willing to pay thousands of pounds to acquire a copy. But if there is little or no interest in a particular book, it won’t be worth a lot no matter how old it is. There are, however, a few things that allow the collector to distinguish between old and antique books with a high degree of certainty:
Author. Works by internationally acclaimed authors always have a higher value than books by less known authors, regardless of the success and quality of the work in question.
Edition. Often, only the first editions have some value. All subsequent editions, even if printed just one year or two later may be worthless in collecting terms.
Rarity. First edition doesn’t always translate into high value. If there are thousands of surviving copies in a decent condition, the book won’t be worth much.
Errors. Although undesirable by the publishers, they can be highly desirable by the collectors. This is due to the fact that publishers typically withdraw a book as soon as they realise that there is an error which means that there is a limited supply of such books.
Remember to pay attention to the condition! Antique book in a poor condition typically isn’t worth much regardless of the edition and rarity, of course if you’re not dealing with a book or manuscript that is hundreds of years old.
Buying Antique Books
Every once in a while an exceptionally valuable book is found at the most unusual places such as someone’s attic, a basement, flea market, etc. But in most cases, antique books are bought in specialised bookshops, from antique dealers, at auctions and more recently on the Internet.