Most Valuable First Edition Picturebooks
In Chapter 8 of the Childrens Picturebook Price Guide, we list the most valuable picturebooks, followed by a page describing the most valuable picturebooks of each decade.
Where The Wild Things Are, the most valuable picturebook in the Price Guide, obviously heads the list of most valuable books from the 1960’s. Sendak’s marquis book is highly sought after – the books appeal not limited to just childrens book collectors – and is very difficult to obtain. When the book was awarded the Caldecott Medal, Harper & Row recalled the book to replace the DJ with a revised DJ proclaiming the award. We valued the book at $10,200 in VG+ condition, however think the current market price is in the $15,000 range.
Remarkably, nine books on the list are from the Beginner Books imprint of Random House. The list includes five books written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss, along with three books that he wrote (as Theo LeSieg, being Geisel spelled backwards) but did not illustrate—The Eye Book and Ten Apples Up On Top, both illustrated by Roy McKié, and I Wish That I Had Duck Feet, illustrated by B. Tobey. The auctions for first edition copies of the latter three are very competitive on eBay. Go, Dog, Go!, by P.D. Eastman is the ninth from Beginners Books to make the list, and is difficult to find in first edition, in large part because the first edition is not readily identified (DJ is required to identify). To help rectify this, we intend to post first edition points for the first fifty Beginner Books in the near future.
The Giving Tree, the timeless story by Shel Silverstein, has been in print since its initial publication in 1964, and is still briskly sold in new book stores. It is the fifth most valuable book from the 1960’s, and is difficult to find in first edition condition ($2.50/DJ; click on the title for first edition points with photos). Silverstein’s first children’s book, Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book, from 1961, also is on the list of most valuable picturebooks from the 1960’s.
The Nutshell Library is a boxed sleeve set of four tiny books by Maurice Sendak, comprising Alligators All Around, Chicken Soup with Rice, One was Johnny, and Pierre. The true first edition set can only by identified by the $2.95 price sticker on the Nutshell Library box.
Four other Caldecott Medal books are on the list. Sam, Bangs, And Moonshine, Sylvester And The Magic Pebble, Drummer Hoff, and Once A Mouse. Inch by Inch is the lone Caldecott Honor award winning book on the list. Wonderfully crafted by Leo Leonni, the illustrations still have a contemporary feel today, some forty years after its initial publication.
From Chapter 8 of the Children’s Picturebook Price Guide:
Note the key factors that impact the collectibility of the books. Each is a high quality story with imaginative or inventive illustrations, therefore the reading public has recurrently purchased the books for decades. Because of this, the books have stayed in print since their original publication and gone into many, many printings.
Many of the books have earned a children’s picturebook award, while many of the illustrators have won numerous awards. All of the illustrators have high esteem within the book publishing market place. Many of the book’s characters became franchise characters, where one or more sequels were published, and line extensions have been made into other consumer product areas (i.e. toys, games, dolls, costumes, decorations, etc…). Lastly, many of the books or characters have crossed over into pop culture, either via a TV or feature film adaptation.
The estimated values in the table are for first edition books with dust jackets.