Vintage Paperbacks & Original Cover Art

Value (2009) | $3,000 Retail$3,500 Retail

For a number of years in the '70s up until '89, I worked for Dell Publishing in New York City. And they were getting rid of a lot of the stuff that had been saved for years, actually. So I ended up with a whole cache of stuff. And I've had four or five of them framed and hanging in my offices for several years, but others have just been lying around in my closet. And I thought, well, I'll use an opportunity with the ROADSHOW to find out if they have any value.

It's the cover art for the Dell paperbacks and the paperbacks your company made. So we have here the Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Mr. Quin, and here's the original artwork for it. Then you have The Strong Wind by Asturias. And then you have one of the old favorites, Alfred Hitchcock. Forgetting the artwork, these old paperbacks are highly collectible now. And the reason they're highly collectible is people love the cover art.


They're not tremendously valuable. You can pick the paperbacks themselves up for anywhere from a few dollars, or sometimes at flea market for less than that. And some go up to ten, 20, 30 dollars.

The Alfred Hitchcock was for his stories?

Right, every month there was a different collection of Alfred Hitchcock stories.

And they would have a different...

A different cover every time, yeah.

Do you know who the artists are on...

I don't. This particular one here, this Strong Wind, I do, because his name is at the bottom. I don't for either of the other two. It would be nice if we knew who the artists were. If they're known artists that have a body of work, it might boost the price up. Another thing is these two, you have the paperback. The Alfred Hitchcock, you don't have the original paperback. That would be another search that I'd do, because I don't think it adds tremendously to the value, but it sure is a great selling point. The Strong Wind is probably a little tamer than the others. It's probably a $500 illustration. The Alfred Hitchcock, probably in the range of $1,000 to $1,500. The Agatha Christie, I think, is conservatively $1,500. Now, this is all retail.

I'm happy to hear that this is worth $1,000, because I've got 15 of them, so...

Wonderful items.

Well, thank you, thank you very much.

Appraisal Details

Brattle Book Shop
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2009)
$3,000 Retail$3,500 Retail
Raleigh, NC (June 27, 2009)
November 01, 2010: We received several e-mails about this segment after it aired, including an update from artist Al Jarnow's son, who expanded on his father's notable career. We were able to reach Al Jarnow himself, who wrote of the artwork featured on the show, "I never pursued illustration much beyond that point. As I remember, the art director for that piece griped that I didn't leave enough space in the sky for him to put a title. I've focused the rest of [my] efforts on painting, sculpture, making films/video — experimental and educational (sometimes both)." Jarnow's animated interstitials engaged young minds who watched Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact. He has also exhibited works at New York City's Museum of Modern Art and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

In light of this more complete portrait of the artist, Ken Gloss determined that Jarnow's cover art illustration would have a retail value of $2,500 to $3,500.

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