1869 “Little Women” Books

Value (2006) | $3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
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APPRAISER:
I see you've brought two little books with you today.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
They're very aptly titled: "Little Women." Can you tell me how you got these books?

GUEST:
My grandpa gave it to my grandma for Christmas. Her name was Jo, and she was also a writer, like in the book.

APPRAISER:
Right. Like in the book "Little Women." Exactly.

GUEST:
And my aunt has one of the names in the book. My grandma gave it to my aunt, and my aunt gave it to me.

APPRAISER:
Well, do you know what I mean when I'm mentioning the word "first editions"?

GUEST:
It was one of the first ones printed.

APPRAISER:
Good. That's exactly right. And "Little Women" was written by Louisa May Alcott. And it was first published in Boston in 1868. And it was so popular, and sold so many copies, that she wrote a sequel -- "Part the Second" --that was published in 1869. So what you've got here, by gift from your aunt, is an 1869 first edition, second state, of "Little Women," and a proper first edition of the second. And the two are in their original cloth binding as published. Sadly, there's some wear to the book, but many copies that I've seen have got handling wear, fading of the purple on the spine and covers. And this Part One, which is the more important one, has got a long tear around here, and some wear at the head and foot of spine. The value of this set, for auction purposes, I would put at $3,000 to $5,000. If it was a first edition 1868 of the first volume, it would be higher. Maybe $5,000 to $10,000. Do you have any questions for me about the books?

GUEST:
Yes, um... why is there tissue paper right here?

APPRAISER:
Now, that's a very good question, and I'm glad you asked it. This is called a frontispiece -- the first illustration in the book. It faces the title page. And this tissue is there to prevent the print offsetting onto the title, making an image of the picture onto here. Have you read them?

GUEST:
No.

APPRAISER:
Well, I suggest that, if you do want to read them, you don't read these actual copies of the book because they'd be too valuable. It might be a good idea to get a little fitted case made for it. And thank you very much for coming in.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bloomsbury Auctions
London, England
Appraised value (2006)
$3,000 Auction$5,000 Auction
Event
Milwaukee, WI (July 29, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Form
Book
Material
Paper
December 19, 2011: We contacted appraiser Stephen Massey for an updated appraisal of this object in today's market.

Current Appraised Value: $3,000 - $5,000 (Unchanged)

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