Many of the original copies or first editions of novels, stories and poems have a very enormous value and amount to millions of dollars due to their rarity, and to the fame of their authors and the distinction of the literary text. Have you thought about looking for these books and how much they are worth?
In this article, we will review 10 of the most rare and valuable literary books in the world, as the first copies of these books are very few and difficult to find.
If you want to buy and read new versions of these books or any other book, at the end of the article, we will tell you how you can buy all of your favorite books using CASHU and without the need for a bank account or credit card!
1. First Folio by William Shakespeare (estimated at $5.2 million)
The First Folio is a book that collects the plays of the famous English writer William Shakespeare in full, including tragedies, comedies, and histories, which consists of 23 plays, such as The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, and others. The book was printed in 1623, that is, 7 years after Shakespeare’s death, and this book was the reason for his immortalization and fame in our time.
There are currently only 235 copies in existence in our time, making it one of the rarest original books in the world. One copy was sold at an auction in New York in 2006 for $5.2 million.
2. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (estimated at $137,500)
Great Expectations is one of Charles Dickens’s greatest and most famous novels, having been featured on stage and screen more than 250 times.
The first edition of the novel was printed in 1861 in 3 sections, and it is very rare these days to see an original copies. One of the copies was sold at an auction in New York in 2008 for $137,500.
The novel was so popular that the desk that Dickens used to write his novels on was sold that same year for $850,000.
Charles Dickens is unanimously regarded by critics as the greatest English novelist of the Victorian era, with famous novels such as Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Memoirs.
3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Estimated at $55,000)
The first of the Harry Potter series was produced in 1997 by contemporary English novelist Joan Rowling, but the surprising thing is that only 500 copies were printed during the book’s initial release, and 300 copies of these copies went to libraries and schools around the United Kingdom. Indeed, the book received a very resounding success, which made the writer complete the writing of the series.
Due to the rarity of this edition, if you own one you can sell it for a lot of money that can reach up to $55,000. And not only that, but one of the copies was recently sold at an auction for $100,000!
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Charles Dodson (estimated at $3 million)
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the greatest children’s fantasy novels in history and one of the most famous, as it has been translated into more than 170 languages, including Arabic, and had a great impact on literature and popular culture. It was composed by mathematician and photographer Charles Dodson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll.
The novel was first published in 1865 and only 2,000 copies were printed from the first edition, but unfortunately all copies were withdrawn at the request of the novel’s painter John Tenniel, as he was not impressed with the print quality, and were reprinted again later. But what happened was that Carroll decided to distribute a few of the originals to his family and friends before pulling them out of bookstores.
Today, there are only 22 originals available worldwide. In 2016, one of the rare copies was auctioned for 2 to 3 million dollars!
5. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (Estimate at $11.2 million)
Geoffrey Chaucer is considered the most prominent English poet of the Middle Ages, also called the Father of English Poetry, and one of the oldest known English poets.
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories of up to 17,000 lines written by Chaucer between 1387 and 1400. In 1386 Chaucer became a customs inspector and justice of the peace, and in 1389 served as a clerk to the king. It was during these years that Chaucer began working on the Canterbury Tales. The tales are presented in verse form as part of a storytelling competition for a group of pilgrims traveling together from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this competition was a free meal at Tabard Inn in Southwark upon their return.
In 1998, one of the originals was sold at auction in London and was bought by billionaire Sir Paul Getty for 4.6 million euros (about $11.2 million dollars at the present time). Only 12 originals are available in the world!
6. The Hobbit by John Tolkien (Estimated at $210,000)
Before John Tolkien released his legendary series The Lord of the Rings, he wrote a children’s fantasy mini-novel called The Hobbit (The Hobbit also known as There and Back Again). It was released in 1937 and won the award for Best Children’s Story at the time. In fact, The Lord of the Rings collection was intended to be a sequel to the story, before it was turned into an entire series.
The book’s publishers printed only 1,500 copies during the initial release, and all copies were sold out in just 3 months. Additionally, subsequent editions were not widely printed due to paper shortages during World War II.
One of the originals was sold at an auction in London in 2015 for €137,000 ($210,000).
7. Tamerlane and Other Poems by Edgar Poe (Estimated at $662,500)
Tamerlane and Other Poems is the first published literary work by the American writer and critic Edgar Allan Poe, a short poems published in 1827. Edgar Poe is the first known American poet trying to make a living through writing and poetry only .
When he decided to print his collection of poems, only 50 copies were printed, and although his works did not receive enough attention at the time, their popularity was gradually gained with time.
In our time, there are only 12 copies worldwide, and one of the copies was sold at an auction in New York for 662,500 dollars.
8. The Tale of Peter the Rabbit by Helen Potter (estimated at $56,124)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a children’s story written and illustrated by the English novelist, illustrator and naturalist Helen Beatrix Potter in 1893. It was privately printed and published in 1901 because it was rejected by publishers, until a commercial version was released in 1902 that has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, and has become one of the most popular and successful children’s stories.
The number of books in private print in 1901 was only 250, one of which was auctioned in 2016 for €43,400 (equivalent to $56,124).
9. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway (Estimated at $321,600)
Ernest Hemingway was one of the most powerful influences on American literature in the twentieth century, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
In Our Time is a collection of short stories first published in 1924, and only 300 copies were printed during the initial edition. Additionally, due to some typos, only 170 copies were sold, and the remaining 130 copies were given free of charge to Hemingway’s family and friends.
Due to the book’s rarity, one copy was sold at auction in New York in 2004 for $321,600.
10. Ulysses by James Joyce (Estimated at $355,000)
Ulysses is one of the most prominent works of modernist literature and one of the most controversial novels in the world. It was composed by the Irish writer James Joyce and published in 1922. The length of the novel is about 265,000 words and is divided into 18 chapters. In 1998, the novel topped the list of the 100 best English-language novels of the twentieth century.
Only 1,000 copies of the first edition were printed, and in 2009 the 45th edition sold at an auction for €275,000 (about $355,000 at the time), the highest price ever paid on a 20th-century novel.