I'm not much on collecting books. Most of the books I have bought lately just barely qualify as used books, being very nearly used up. Some of them hardy make it through one reading, as the pages fall out of the binding or actually break off. I don't care, though, because buying cheap, used paperbacks means I can get a lot of reading for not very much cash, at all. Also, in the winter, they make handy fire starter.
I only mention this because we recently came across an old book from our collection that seems as if it might be what they call "highly collectible".
This book comes from my wife's side of the family, and was around all through her childhood. It is a hard-cover edition of the seventh and last book in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, The Last Battle.
My daughter found it in one of the boxes of stuff we packed up when we thought we were going to move. We are unpacking things a little at a time, and yesterday she came across this book. She loves the Narnia books, and was excited to see that it was an old version of the book from the time when her Mom was a little girl. She asked "How old is this?!" and I opened it up to find out. I was expecting the usual progression of copyrights that you have in most popular books that have been reprinted many times, but there was only one neat paragraph below a copyright of 1956, the first year the book was published. It was printed by MacMillan Company, who first published the book in America, and at the bottom of the page it says "First Printing".
So, it looks very possibly like this is a copy of the very first printing of the book when it was initially published in America. It is in very tolerable shape, though the pages are yellowed and the turquoise cloth cover is somewhat faded and lightly stained. There is just a little underlining (in pencil) on a few pages, and a couple of lines of text and a number written on the very back page. There is also a library card pocket on the inside back cover.
I've been poking around the internets looking at what comparable books I could find, and the thing may be worth hundreds of dollars (maybe more, maybe less, I don't know). At any rate, it's just really cool to have a first printing of the original Narnia series!
We have a few antiques, but have rarely stumbled on anything of much value. We do still have an old LP that a friend gave us which turned out to be an original pressing of Todd Rundgren's rare Ballad of Todd Rundgren. They knew I was a Todd fan (which I'm not, anymore, but that's another story) and just gave it to me. It turned out to be this rare album (though not extremely valuable), so I think we ended up taking them to dinner, or something... because, you know, if they had known it was that rare, they might not have just given it away (I think they were sort of kicking themselves over it).
This so makes me want to go on Antiques Road Show!