Langston Hughes Signed First Edition Books
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $10,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 14
Appraisal Video: (3:51)
Books & Manuscripts
Ken Sanders Rare Books
GUEST: I always go to yard sales and garage sales. And I went to one in New York, where I'm originally from. And I found the books and I seen they were signed. Inside one of the books the inscription is to a gentleman named Gene. The lady told me that that was her uncle. And Mr. Gene, his friend was Mr. Langston Hughes.
APPRAISER: And how much did you pay for them?
GUEST: A dollar apiece.
APPRAISER: How long ago was it?
GUEST: Over 20 years ago.
APPRAISER: And you knew they were autographed when you bought them.
APPRAISER: You noticed that right away.
GUEST: Uh-huh, I look for that and I look for first editions and things like that.
APPRAISER: We have the first book here open to the Langston Hughes autograph. It's just signed generically, "Sincerely, Langston Hughes." And if you would close that book... This is a Langston Hughes first edition of The Big Sea. It's lacking its dust jacket, which makes it somewhat less valuable.
GUEST: I have it.
APPRAISER: You have the dust jacket?
GUEST: Yes, that one is very good, but this one was like a little more tattered. So I didn't bring it. I took it off and I left it where it was at. Because I didn't want no damage to happen to it.
APPRAISER: Okay, so this second one, Simple Takes a Wife, is not only signed by the famous author, but it's inscribed. "These simple tales for Gene Howard, sincerely, Simple not Howard, but Shaw, Langston Hughes." It's a very, very clever inspiration. Clearly, they were good friends to get a nice, warm personal inscription like that. And the last one you brought here today, I Wonder as I Wander, is probably the most famous one of the books you have here today of Langston Hughes. And it, like the other, is a signed first edition in a dust jacket. "Especially for Gene Shaw, my second life. Seven more to come. Like a cat. Sincerely, Langston Hughes. New York, March 22, 1958." The first edition of The Big Sea by Langston Hughes was published in 1940. Simple Takes a Wife, the first edition of it was published in 1953. And the final book, I Wonder as I Wander, the first edition was published in 1956. Well, Langston Hughes, as you know, was one of the most famous poets and authors of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the architects of the Harlem Renaissance. He and Wallace Thurman from Utah co-founded Fire, which was the one-issue, literary magazine that's what helped spark the Harlem Renaissance, and is certainly one of the most sought after and important American writers of the 20th century. It was really marvelous to see three signed Langston Hughes in your collection. Do you have any idea how much your books are worth?
GUEST: I looked online. The Simple Takes a Wife I couldn't find. But the other two, they were like $500, maybe $200.
APPRAISER: In my opinion, at retail, your three-- your one signed and your two inscribed Langston Hughes first editions are worth at retail between $8,000 to $10,000.
APPRAISER: Yes, ma'am.
GUEST: Wow, that's amazing. (chuckles) Really amazing.
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