RARE BOOK GUIDE - THE RUNNERS, THE RIDERS & THE ODDS

10 October 2007

To Kill a Mockingbird. by Harper Lee.


Harper Lee. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Lippincott, Philadelphia, USA. 1960.

Current Selling Prices
$12000-$15000 £7500-£9000


MODERN FIRST EDITION.
Up there with the great modern American novels in esteem and price. Won the Pulitzer, the movie won 3 Oscars. She is at the opposite spectrum to your reclusive Pynchons and Salingers - signed copies abound, especially of reprints and anniversary editions. The jacket has points on it, ideally you want the price intact but definitely a Jonathan Daniels blurb/ quote on the flap and a credit (on the rear) to Truman Capote for his photo of young Harper Lee. Capote was a childhood friend, he dedicated 'In Cold Blood to Her.' The character Dill in Mockingbird is based on him. Capote's copy inscribed to him would be way cool, to say the least.

VALUE? A book traded almost to death on ebay but possibly still quite well 'underpinned' - i.e. having a large amount of collectors and speculators. Properly collectable copies are quite difficult, the unlaminated jacket doesn't last well (quite a few are restored) it tends to get rubbed and and frayed, many of the estimated 5000 printed went to libraries and, damn it, people read the book. Condition has to be taken down a notch, as fine copies are not really feasible; even the big money copies were not fine. In terrestrial auctions nice copies have made as much as $15K, and at the 2001 Falktoft sale a sporting $32000 (unsigned.) 2001 was, however, an annus mirabilis for high spot mod firsts. Dot com days. It remains to be seen how long it will be until such prices are achieved again. Inscribed to no one special it has made $40K.

An interesting copy turned up at Swann in 2005 signed by Harper Lee and with a signed letter from her dated October 2004 advising the owner to sell it at Swann! It made $19K. Prices on the internet are generally significantly lower than these records, possibly too many copies have been flushed out by these heady prices and the book has become something of a cliché on ebay. That being said no one is presently possessed of a fab copy.

STOP PRESS. The above entry was written in January 2007. Not much has changed since then --it keeps turning up - there is a signed copy described as fine/fine on ABE at $40K -'...it has a bit of top edge foxing and a slight spine lean; near fine in a near fine, unrestored dust jacket with a little edge rubbing.' The seller rightly makes a virtue of its being unrestored; there is a very nice restored one (new endpapers too) from one of the globe's most expensive modfirst dealers at $12000. The much liked dealer known as 'Flatsigned' has 6 copies over $1000- all, except the Taiwanese first, signed by the great writer. These include a reasonable signed copy in a second state jacket at $15000 described thus "This remarkeable item is truly a treasure for a lifetime...' Something of a curiosity is the fact that the signature is '... on new restored end-papers...' Sophisticated stuff.

Most intriguing is a French dealer called Whopper Books with what looks like a pretty nice copy descibed thus -- '... tres bon etat exceptionnel exemplaire du premier tirage du livre le plus célèbre des états unis ! limité à 5,000 pour l'édition de novembre 1960, depuis plus de 50,000,000 ont été imprimé, pour collectionneur avertit représente également un excellent placement. moyen format.' The picture shows a copy in near fine jacket. Unless he is telling whoppers, or it's a later state, at $9,329.56 it's a good buy for a collector. [ W/Q **** ]

20 comments:

Tommy Boy said...

I collect Pulitzer Prize books, and getting this one was a huge problem. I finally settled for a second printing which I was lucky enough to find at a used book store. Looks just like the first, only it say "Second Printing" on the book and on the cover. It's in great shape. It looks a lot like this one To Kill a Mockingbird only it looks like they married a first printing book to a second printing dust jacket. The book's in great shape.

familyguy said...

I actually have a 1st edition copy of this great story. My late great-grandfather had it personalized to him by Miss Lee. Where would someone go to possibly sell this item (besides e-bay) and not get hosed?

Elizabeth0607 said...

family guy

how much do you want for it? I was thinking of getting my husband something like this for Christmas

musictriangle said...

Family guy

That's my girlfriends favorite book. Do you still have this because I would love to give it to her

glenmiller said...

I have a first edition, 1950, no jacket, VG condition, no signature or writing of any kind. No tearing, hard cover very little wear. Any advice on how to put up for auction other than ebay?

mugwort the appraiser said...

There is or used to be a tradition of selling books to bookshops or dealers--you might try that. Not good enough for a proper auction house, methinks...

Edie said...

I have a copy of Miss Lee's wonderful book. I would like to know what I could sell it for. The jacket with the green tree is unlaminated and is in pretty good condition. There is a small piece of scotch tape on the spine of the jacket. There is a sticker on the jacket that says, "The Pulitzer Prize Novel, l961". The fly leaf says copyright 1960 by Harper Lee
Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 60-7847 Eleventh Impression with the letter W below the inscription. The pages of the book look almost as though they have not been turned. On the dedication page I see for Mr. Lee and Alice in consideration of Love and Affection. Edie D.

Mugwort the appraiser said...

11th impression is not great--first editions are what collectors want, surely. But see abebooks somebody may be charging an arm and a leg for a reprint. Sorry.

Adrienne said...

I have a first edition, signed copy. Originally, I had thought it was a first edition book club. Not so. When I was in High School, I had the unbelievable honor of meeting Harper Lee, whereupon she signed my book. I have since graduated from college. I wrote my 75 page senior thesis on her inspiring work.

Josh said...

I have a supposed first edition only instead of "first edition" under the library of congress ID it says "Twenty-Third Impression".... does that make it a numbered collector of any kind?

Marcelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jaida said...

I'm having a hard time telling what edition I have. I found it at a thrift store and it looks exactly like the first editions do except it is black on the spine and light gray. Has the same filigree designs and is published by J.B. Lippincott Company. No dust cover. No help on the inside either just says "Copyright @ 1960 by Harper Lee Printed in the United states of America" Any ideas?

Mugwort the appraiser said...

Sounds like a book club edition, not worth a great deal--needs to say 'First Edition' on the copyright page. Sorry...

Bruce said...

I was given a batch of books by my 87 year old father, including a signed "To Kill A Mockingbird". He says someone presented him with the novel (and tickets to the stage production in the old Monroe County Courthouse) when he was in Monroeville for a handbell workshop. This is the 30th anniversary replication of the 1961edition; original cover artwork except with the Pulitzer Prize badge. I suspect it has not been read - pages very tight, though with spine lean. Dust jacket has minor wear at top and bottom of spine, otherwise intact, with no clipping, no rips. In blue ink, "Harper Lee", underlined on first leaf inside cover. I would welcome offers. bdall@aol.com

Sherree said...

I have a personalized signed copy of TKAM. signing reads
"Merry Christmas, Jason! Harper Lee"

Any thoughts on what it would sell for?

Top Divorce Lawyer Seattle Engle Law Group website said...

The book was excellent. It had some different twists compared to the movie. Really enjoyed the main characters and
could really see them in my mind since I've seen the movie so many times.

Micaella Lopez said...

I turned the final page of "To Kill A Mockingbird", unbelieving that it had come to an end. I opened the front cover and immediately started reading it over again from page one. At two o'clock in the morning. The book had that much of an effect on me. One doesn't just read this book; one experiences it. At best, one lives it. I did.
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Baboo said...

I have a copy of f To Kill a Mockingbird signed to me by Miss Lee. The dust cover seems to be from another book since it says 22nd printing and my book says 23 Impression. As to the 23rd Impression, it doesn't say what edition it is. Is it valuable?

Leigh N said...

Where can i sell the book i have a first edition..pages in the book are okay.. Intact..

Mr. Kuechle said...

I have a lovely true first edition in a lovely first edition dust jacket. The dust jacket had some slight / mild restoration done and it now looks amazing - you can't even tell work was done to it. It's so much better than 99% of the dust jackets out there. It comes with a tipped in signed page and a really nice slipcase as well. This is as nice as anyone is going to find. I am willing to sell it if anyone is looking.