1891 Signed Oscar Wilde Limited Edition, "The Picture of Dorian Gray"
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:16)
Books & Manuscripts
Vice President Department Head, Printed Books and Manuscripts
GUEST: Well, I got this Oscar Wilde about 25 years ago. I bought it at a used bookstore on Wells Avenue.
APPRAISER: And what did you pay for it?
GUEST: I paid $25.
APPRAISER: Well, what you have is a copy of "The Picture of Dorian Gray," Oscar Wilde's novel. Now, Oscar Wilde's the great Irish writer known primarily as a playwright, but also known through this very important book. Now, with modern literature, especially in this period, books often came out in different editions. They came out in a trade edition, and then they would come out in a limited edition. Now, the trade edition of this book, which came out in 1891-- same date as this book-- it looks much the same as this copy, and it brings roughly $400 to $600 at auction. Now, your copy is one of the very special limited copies. Here's the limitation page, which states that there were 250 copies of this edition published. This copy's number 14, and it is signed by Oscar Wilde. Now, the fact that it is the limited edition makes it a very special issue of the book. Before I get to the value, I'd like to just point out some of the condition issues. If we look at the backstrip, you'll see at the bottom, you've got this chip here and a few tears at the top. And for this book, that's actually quite normal, because the spine was made out of a very thin paper, very fragile. It's actually an acceptable amount of defect, because it's often found with the spine lacking. Now, if you were to think about today's market, where Oscar Wilde has become very popular and is widely collected and sold at auction, do you have any guess as to what it might bring?
GUEST: I'd say maybe $100, maybe $150 at the most.
APPRAISER: Your $25 investment has gone up quite considerably in this market. Recently, copies of this book, the one of 250, have sold at auction for $8,000 to $12,000.
GUEST: You got to be kidding me.
APPRAISER: I'm not. That is... It's an amazing return on your investment.
APPRAISER: You have an incredible eye for rare books. Thanks for bringing it in.
GUEST: You betcha. This is... What a joy! Oh, God... And an old lady of 76 years old has got... Oh, my God. What a thrill! Thank you so much.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.