A classic antiquarian book collection in the making – maybe
Barnes and Noble leather bound kids’ classics book collection could become one of the sought after collectable antiquarian books of the future. On the other hand they may just disappear and become one of the millions of book titles which, although old, will end up being only worth the future equivalent of a couple of pounds at a car boot sale. However, would Adam Ferguson have guessed that a single volume of his Essay on the History of Civil Society, written in 1767 would be worth over £9,000 at 2013 prices? Probably not is the answer.
An Essay on the History of Civil Society, one of many antique leather bound books now worth a fortune
Image attributed to Classic Rare Books
Adam Ferguson was by no means a character who stood out from the crowd during the period when he lived. Yes, he was a professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Nowadays, we might refer to him as an intellectual historian. His role in the Scottish Enlightenment movement of the 18th century was neither any more nor any less than that of his contemporaries.
During his period he was soon forgotten much like his contemporaries as time passed and thinking evolved. However, nowadays he is considered as ‘the father of modern systematic sociology’ and is probably one of the reasons leather bound books attributed to him are worth an absolute fortune.
Rare book prices
Rare and antique books do not follow a path, whether that is how in demand they are as collectables, or indeed the price they fetch. That is to say one book written and published in the same year as Ferguson’s (1767) may be worth merely a few tens of pounds, at best a few hundred. An example of one such book is ‘Travels’, written by Jonathan Carver and published in 1766, 1767, and 1768. An example of this book is likely to fetch no more than £2,000 – £2,500.
Maybe it is because this book is an adventure which, while being an exciting factual read of the time, is now no longer relevant to modern day travel in North America. The value of an antiquarian volume can be dictated by many factors, not least the impact which the book had in literary circles of the time. Another factor is also how relevant the book may be to current thinking in the modern world.
Other factors which help dictate the price a book will fetch at auction or on general sale are as follows:
- Current demand
- Publishing house
Current demand is an interesting one. Demand for an author may be subject to fashions of the time. A three volume original set of first edition Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien would have cost a few tens of pounds when first published in 1937. It is only in recent years however that the price has sky-rocketed, due in part to the popularity of the genre buoyed by the movie franchise.
Whether the Barnes and Noble leather bound kids’ classics book collection will ever be in the same league as the aforementioned volumes it is difficult to say. My bet is no; but then, I buy books to read, not sit around on shelves gathering dust – and these books, according to the kids, are a pretty good read.