24 December 2006

Alcoholics Anonymous...The Big Book 1939.

The most wanted book so far and one of a handful of books from the 20th Century to have radically changed peoples lives...all praise to Bill W and Dr Bob. Bill Wilson had been a stock analyst at the time he met Dr 'Bob' Smith the co - founder, a doctor and surgeon. Dr. Bob drank a bottle of beer on June 10 1935 ('to steady his hands') outside Akron hospital in Ohio. It was his last ever drink and is taken as the founding date of AA. There are now 2 million members worldwide.

Anonymous.(Bill Wilson.) ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. Works Publishing Inc., NY 1939.

A big book, in fact 'The Big Book.' Landmark work not merely in saving the minds, souls and bodies of millions of out of control drinkers but also in being the first broad manifestation of group movements, 'steps', 'sharing' 'self help' and what later became known as 'recovery.' Alcoholics had precious few options before Bill W saw the light. Impossible to overstate it's importance etc., In terms of people wanting the book, it outranks 'The Hobbit' and defers only to 'Alice in Wonderland.'

VALUE? Reasonable red cloth first editions regularly go for $5000 to $6000 and nice ones can climb to $10000 and well over that for inscribed and /or jacketed copies. You occasionally see what appear to be fairly decent ones get bought in (ie fail to sell) at ebay at around $5K and even dip below that figure. About 4730 copies were printed so it is not madly scarce and the market is kept fuelled with copies. There are a few easily found points on the book to determine true firsts. Most of the high end copies sitting on the net have them spelled out. It is hard to find bright clean firsts as the book got read, used and passed around and often has the scrawled names of members and/or AA meetings and groups written in. Healthy market esp on ebay for reprints with connoisseurs of different editions and occasional dramatic prices when 2 collectors get locked in a bidding war (aka 'a pissing competition.') The 7th edition of 1945 a mere 5000 copies is highly prized, it was mainly sent out to US troops serving in Asia and Europe. I guess one might pick one up in a junk shop in, say, Manila or Macao or Munich - a four figure book.Also into four figures is the 1954 UK first, a book I haven't seen since the 80s. It is said that recovered alcoholics (presumably the biggest collectors of the book) often start making serious money and some become formidable collectors of the literature of addiction, starting with the big red book.

Current Prices $6000+/ £3250+ Want level 130+ The Highest
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