That dusty old bookshelf at your grandparent’s house could actually be worth millions of pounds to determined collectors, according to an expert.
London-based bookstore Shapero’s children’s book expert Roddy Newlands told MailOnline children’s books handed down through generations have gained in value over the decades.
Mr Newlands added: ‘One of the great thing about children’s books is that they are often handed down from generation to generation, even in these days of digitalisation and “screentime”.
‘So you might have had a grandparent, great-grandparent (or even greater still) who would have acquired, for example, first editions of the Chronicles of Narnia, Rupert Bear annuals or the Peter Rabbit books when they were published, and no-one would have realised their exponentially increasing value in the interim.’
Children’s book collectors are desperate to get their hands on pristine first-edition hardbacks – and will pay a hefty price.
A set of four pristine A.A. Milne novels including Winnie the Pooh was listed for £48,000 when it went up for sale last year, while a rare deluxe edition of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson sold for £6,000.
Find out what the hardbacks on your bookshelf could be worth:
A set of four volumes – all signed by both A.A.Milne and the illustrator E.H. Shepard – were listed at £48,000 by Shapero Rare Books
When We Were Very Young (A.A.Milne)
A.A.Milne’s collection of children’s books, based on a stuffed toy belonging to his son Christopher, started with a volume titled When We Were Very Young in November 1924.
It was such a success three more books quickly followed: The House of Pooh Corner; Now We are Six and Winnie The Pooh.
Almost a hundred years later a set of four volumes – all signed by both Milne and the illustrator E.H. Shepard – were listed at £48,000 by Shapero Rare Books.
Three advertisements, including ‘Original Drawings… Sporting Gallery’ and the Christopher Robin calendar, were included.
When We Were Young sold for £15,000.
The set was signed by both Milne and the illustrator Shepard (pictured) before it was listed for £48,000 by a vintage book seller
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
Mark Twain’s controversial novel was banned by librarians in the US after claims the protagonist was ‘questionable’ in terms of his moral character and racially offensive language.
The classic piece of American literature, which was printed on laid paper rather than wove, sold for £8,500 in one of the most expensive book sales ever seen.
The 1876 novel was about a young boy growing up along the Mississippi River and, if sold with a first edition of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s comrade), it could fetch more than £15,000.
The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. The classic piece of American literature, which was printed on laid paper rather than wove, sold for £8,500 in one of the most expensive book sales ever seen
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
A rare deluxe edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island has been listed for sale at £6,000 by Jonkers Rare Books.
The 1927 edition, first published in 1883, was one of only 50 copies signed by the illustrator Edmund Dulac. The watercolours in the book were described by the artist as some of his favourite pieces of work.
The gift edition includes twelve colour plates and numerous black and white drawings in the text.
The 1927 edition, first published in 1883, was one of only 50 copies signed by the illustrator Edmund Dulac. The watercolours in the book were described by the artist as some of his favourite pieces of work
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K.Rowling)
A signed first edition of the final Harry Potter book could be worth £2,750 to collectors wishing to own it.
The novel includes Potter’s final battle with ‘he who must not be named’ as well as the death of many of the series’ key characters.
It enjoyed an initial print run of 12 million copies in the United States alone when it was released in 2007.
Meanwhile, a signed first edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire could be worth £1,950.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling includes Potter’s final battle with ‘he who must not be named’ as well as the death of many of the series’ key characters
The Arabian Nights (Illustrated by Edward J. Detmold)
The collection of Arabic folk tales are considered to be the illustrator’s rarest work, with only 100 copies of the 1924 classic signed by the artist.
A copy sold by David Brass Rare Books was listed for £1,362. The listing reads: ‘Very light stain on front board, spine gilt a little rubbed, some very light foxing to endpapers but still an excellent copy of Detmold’s rarest book.’
The book has no author because it was brought together over centuries by many different explorers in the middle east who listened to spoken myths and legends.
The collection of Arabic folk tales are considered to be the illustrator’s rarest work, with only 100 copies of the 1924 classic signed by the artist
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)
A limited edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with Through The Looking Glass has been listed for £4,500 because it was signed by Alice Hargreaves – the woman the stories are based on.
The first edition is highly sought-after because only around 23 copies are thought to survive.
The trilogy Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Through the Looking Glass & Alice’s Adventures Underground, would cost £25,000 for the three volumes.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with Through the Looking Glass. Illustrated by John Tenniel
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could be worth thousands if it it still in a good condition.
Children’s books tend to be worth more because they’re often destroyed by their readers through wear and tear.
First published in the US in January 1964, Dahl wrote the book about eponymous Charlie and his visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Quintessential Rare Books in the US has a signed copy of the book’s first edition listed for sale for £7,626.
First published in the US in January 1964, Roald Dahl wrote the book about Charlie’s visit to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory
The Adventures of Pinocchio (Carlo Collodi)
A rare first UK edition of Pinocchio’s adventures has been listed for sale for £2,800.
The Adventures of Pinocchio was originally published in Florence, Italy, in 1883, before its popularity grew with Walt Disney’s film adaptation in 1940.
A copy of the first edition, in its original binding, is for sale with PrPh books in New York for £53,382.53.
A rare first UK edition of Pinocchio’s adventures (pictured) was originally published in Florence, Italy, in 1883, and has now been listed for sale for £2,800
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Ian Fleming)
Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang may not be as sought after as his James Bond first editions, but they can still fetch over £2,000.
A set of three 1964 volumes featuring the illustrations of John Burningham, and signed by the artist, are listed at £2,500.
These volumes are a limited edition set of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming, issued in three volumes like the first edition and featuring the illustrations and designs of John Burningham, who died in January 2019. They are for sale for £2,500
Peter Pan in Kensington Garden (J.M.Barrie)
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham, the adventures of ‘the boy who wouldn’t grow up’ could be worth £1,500 in good condition.
The classic book features the adventures of Peter Pan on the island of Neverland.
A description of the quality of this version reads: ‘A few very occasional spots, not affecting plates, otherwise very clean, publisher’s pictorial cloth, gilt, minor bumping to corners, else an exceptionally near-fine example.’
Illustrated by Arthur Rackham, the adventures of ‘the boy who wouldn’t grow up’ could be worth £1,500 in good condition