28 November 2007

Bram Stoker. Dracula. 1897.

Bram Stoker. DRACULA. Constable, London, 1897.

Current Selling Prices
$20000 / £10000

A press notice in a later edition says it all - 'The very weirdest of weird tales.' Also the most desirable book of its genre. An ebay perennial making fat sums even in the most obliterated condition. There are points which are not entirely settled, but basically the earliest issue does not have ads at the rear and the best of those 2 is on slightly thicker and better paper which tends to discernibly 'bulk' the book. Yellow cloth, of course, and a yellow which seems to attract dirt so that bright copies are something of a wonder and a faultless, factory fresh copy is almost unthinkable. I did hear of a copy that because of its supposed salacious content had been kept in brown paper wraps and emerged as bright as a new A.A. book but this was before prices for the book had become serious--until the early 1980s no copy had made over £100.  The second issue has a single page advertisement at the rear for 'The Shoulder of Shasta.' That is still a bloody good book.

Inscribed copies are not uncommon, Bram was well known in the theatre world (being Henry Irving's secretary) and presumably quite approachable. An inscribed early state Dracula is currently being offered at $55K, another, the Marlowe - Rechler copy, inscribed to one Henry A. Blyth made $40K in 2002. Both very reasonable condition but not remarkable copies. The first American edition, considered better looking, came out in 1899 and goes for a little less than half UK firsts. It was published by Doubleday & McClure, not Grosset as some people persist in thinking. Grosset is, with a few notable exceptions, a reprint house; however they did produce a very attractive 'Photoplay' edition in 1931 to coincide with the Bela Lugosi movie. (See below) This can go for over $1000 to $3000 in bright d/w. There is one on the net at present at $13,500 with an eminently sane bookseller. As we used to say in the hippy days "I cannot get my head round that, man."

VALUE? Condition, condition, condition-- those are the 3 things you need to know about this book. A friend once tried to sell a worn and soiled copy, excusing the condition on the grounds it had character and that the soiling was patina! It doesn't work that way and $20000 copies have to be as the song has it 'all yellow.' And bright. It is a  common book in mediocre to lousy condition. Soiled copies that are internally OK get bound up in fancy leather bindings and command about £4k max. Some sellers ask 4 figure sums for 4th, 5th and early 20th century editions. They very rarely sell, even on ebay they no longer work. One chap (at a shop nowhere near Scott Fitzgerald's old college) has a whole collection of them at buffoon prices that sit on the web year after year. I recall in one shop in San Francisco they had a Dracula in a cabinet in  poor and rather delicate shape woefully overpriced--every dealer and chancer who came in the shop would examine it and shove it back in disgust. Eventually it fell to pieces and was taken away in a bag by the peevish proprietor. The shop has now closed. Talking of bloodsuckers see poster below.

STOP PRESS.   The entry above was mostly done in January--since then about a dozen yellow 1897 'Draculas' have been seen in auction, the highest price was $10,200 in NY for a copy described as 'an unusually bright copy' (although it had a number of minor faults.) A few soiled copies made between £2000 and £3000. There were several high profile buy-ins where the reserve had been too ambitious. High reserves are sometimes forced on the chinless wonders who man auction houses by over demanding, not to say greedy, consigners. This tends to happen if the consigner has something sexy to sell or is a favoured client (i.e. rich ).

One of the buy-ins this year that, in the language of the saleroom hack, 'failed to impress' was a Dracula in a very fancy Sangorski box and slip-case estimated at $30,000 to $40,000. It was catalogued as  'a beautiful and unique hand-made leather slipcase and box by the legendary bookbinders of Sangorski & Sutcliffe with their anthemion located on the bottom of the back cover...the slipcase is supple black leather with applied white leather to form the stark image of Count Dracula about to feast on the neck of Mina Harker...' Slip-cases and such adornments tend to be site specific, once you take them out of an auction house they can lose much of their value and may only repeat the result in a similarly hyped up setting. This very binding had been sold  in London in 2005 at £6000 and had been returned to the rooms too fast. 15 firsts from 1897 can be found at ABE awaiting punters--from £3500 to £35000 for a copy inscribed on the day it was published.


Anonymous said...

I have Conan Doyle's copy. Fine condition. I don't think he read it.

Unknown said...

Interesting current update, it appears one of the usual auction houses has a copy for sale in the Dec auction, quote:
'16 pp. publisher's catalogue at end advertising "The Shoulder of Shasta", scattered light spotting and fingermarks, minor chip to foot of spine, browning to endpapers, hinges splitting, original yellow cloth, covers and spine ruled and lettered in red, spine darkened, some soiling and rubbing, edges slightly bumped, slightly cocked, 8vo, in recent onlaid pictorial red and black morocco slipcase by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, in morocco solander box, 8vo
Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on half title "To T. S. Thomson, With best wishes, Bram Stoker, 18. Nov 1897". Rare inscribed copy of the first edition of the world's most famous vampire story.'

Estimate is 15-20k.

hughbruss said...

I have an American copy, first edition of Stoker's Dracula in reasonable shape, the only flaw being a fray on the binding 1". would someone be so kind as to give me an idea on # of prints in circ., and a rough idea on valuation, as this would be very much appreciated, thank-you and good-day.

Anonymous said...

I knew I had winner when I picked it up from an estate sale for 25 cents. I stumbled upon this blog trying to identify the book's value and found out what I needed to know.

Its yellow and all around, publishers match up and suprisingly the binding is still together. The a in dracula is cracked but adds a spooky mysterious look to it. I carefully checked to see if all the pages are there and they were. There is writing in the book that says "to uncle kieron" but other than that its in fine condition.

If I knew it was worth this much i would have treated it in with better condition from when iI purchased it.

Thanks for the info, this book will pay for my college now ^^

expect to see it on amazon or ebay, after I get a proper appraisal.

Anonymous said...

i would like some information on my dracula book, if someone could please help, my book is red and inside it say's the modren library, new york, than on the next page is copyright 1897 by bram stoker distributed in canada by random house of canada limited, toronto. i can't find nothing about this book thank -you very much darlene

Kat said...

I have a first edition Dracular, US printed, Grosset & Dunlap, printed at Country Life Press in Garden City, NY in 1897. The last page states = There's more to follow. No ads. This information contradicts what I just read. Spine is in poor condition. Any comments. Want to sel. thanks. Kathy

Anonymous said...

I have the 1897 nelson doubleday, inc in mint condition

Anonymous said...

The last comment made was me and we will sell make offer

Anonymous said...

The last comment made was me and we will sell make offer

Anonymous said...

I have a Modern Library edition with no publishing date. Just copy right 1897 by Bram Stoker. It is bound in a light green cloth with black lettering. It was my fathers and I don't know much about it, just curious. Has anyone seen this particular edition or know anything about it?

Anonymous said...

the nelson doubleday editions were post 1910.

Unknown said...

I have the same edition i have been looking for hours to find answers

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.