Antique Book Appraisal Process

Wondering how we evaluate the antique books you want to sell at auction?

Here’s what we look for:

When you submit a book for our appraisal, we ask for some basic information: Title, author, date of publication, condition and a few photos of the book.

Pictures say a thousand words, so if you’re able to supply photos of the antique books you want to sell at auction, it helps to give us a much better understanding of your item and will help the process of potentially selling your antique book move quickly.

Once we have a clear idea of the books you would like to submit, if it’s something we feel will perform well for you at auction, we’ll conduct research on your antique books to determine an estimation of price based on recent or archived auction results.

Pricing results are not determined by simply using marketplace websites like AbeBooks or Amazon as this tends to be a false reflection of the current market values for antique books. Those types of websites are essentially a catalog of “asking prices” chosen by merchants who want to sell antique books and are not always an accurate representation of what a book is actually worth.


Four key points we look for when evaluating an antique book

Age of the book

Just because an antique book is old doesn’t mean it is automatically valuable.

This rule of thumb can be surprising to folks trying to sell antique books. Let take these two as an example:

“Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (1st edition, 1997). At a 2018 auction in London, this copy achieved the stunning price of $162,500.

Meanwhile, an antique single copy of a larger set of the 1688 History of France in full leather binding has made as little as $20.  Often, age really is just a number.

Collectibility of the book

Certain authors or subject matters always have a following and a base of collectors; if an antique book is in high demand, it tends to be worth more money. Same goes for First Editions; a first or early printing often commands a greater value.

Rarity of the book

A rare book doesn’t always mean it’s a valuable book.

For example, we’ve carried several dozen old books which would be classified as being rare, but which in actuality didn’t achieve any significant value. This is due to the fact that although the books were indeed rare and hard to find, they were not particularly collectible or highly desirable.

Condition of the book

As with all antiques, condition plays a big part in desirability.

For example, if an antique book is in poor condition it might only be worth 10% of an identical copy in very good condition. There are some exceptions to this rule and here’s when rarity comes into play. If you have an exceptionally rare book, then even if it is in poor condition it could still hold a lot of value.