How much is my old Bible worth?
|Book dealers are frequently asked "What is an
old Bible worth ?"
Bible may be an important family heirloom with
significant personal value. However, the Bible
is also the most printed book in history and many old
copies have survived. Consequently, few old
Bibles have any monetary or collectible value. There
are, of course, exceptions. For example, if the Bible
contains information on several generations of a
family, it may be useful for genealogical research.
|What factors contribute to
the value of a collectible Bible? Two things
... #1 is Desire and #2 is Condition.
Lets start with Desire, or in other words, does anyone want it? On the pages between the Old and New Testaments, old Bibles often contain hand written records or births and deaths. If the Bible contains information on several generations of a family, it may be useful for genealogical research or valuable to the family mentioned in its genealogical pages. If your Bible originally belonged to the family of a historical figure, it could be quite valuable. If it was signed by someone famous, or if it was an early printing of a significant edition, it could be valuable.
The second factor effecting value is Condition. Just as "location, location, location" is the mantra in the real estate world, condition makes or breaks the value of a collectible Bible. Look at your Bible as a collector would. A Bible collector scrutinizes a 100 year old antique Bible for the same flaws as a brand new Bible. Bible collectors and professional sellers prefer to use one of five categories regarding condition: Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, or Fine.
Poor: Bible is in sad condition. Pages maps or boards may be missing, or torn, Bible may be badly soiled or scribbled on by a child.
Fair: Loose pages, soiled, loose spine, etc. The Bible is complete, all pages & maps present.
Good: A Bible that is clean inside, complete and all pages present and attached. Nothing torn. Spine is fairly strong.
Very Good: A strong, clean Bible, some shelf wear, perhaps only a neatly written previous owner signature inside.
Fine: An attractive Bible. Bright pages, no writing, no bumps or wear. It looks new.
Value: The value of an old leather Bible in very good condition with no family records or other factors that would increase its value might be worth about $10 to $20 dollars. If the Bible contains family records, or other important factors it could be worth from $20 up to a large amount. But don't sell your Bible yet! Yours could be worth alot more - be sure to research its value by comparing its features to copies on the internet.
Here are sites to research the market of a Bible. These sites will give you a sense of what sellers are asking and how many copies are available. Keep in mind the condition of your Bible and its edition (First printing, later printing, etc.)
AddAll used books. No-frills. One of my favorite sites for gauging marketability of a Bible. This site allows you to sort your results in several different ways.
Amazon supports a huge marketplace of used book dealers on their site.
Ebay.com searching Ebay closed auctions is a great to find out how much your edition has sold for.
And of course, there's always the tried and true price guides. Check out Amazon.com's large selection of price guides for rare and collectible books here.
Books to Help Research the Used Book Market and Identify First Editions
Many book publishers indicate "First Edition" in their own unique way. The following books will arm you with years of knowledge found nowhere else. If you buy, collect or sell books, these should be your first investment.
Book Finds, 3rd Edition: How to Find, Buy, and Sell Used and Rare Books Ian C. Ellis. Paperback 2006. A good first hand account of book buying and book scouting.
The Home-Based bookstore: Start Your Own Business Selling Used books on Amazon, eBay or Your Own Web Site Steve Weber. Paperback 2005. A super book, one of the best rated books by Amazon readers regarding selling books on-line.
Official Price Guide to books, 5th Edition Marie Tedford & Pat Goudey. Paperback 2005. Although used book prices fluctuate, sometimes its good to have a book you can refer to when the computer's not turned on.
Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions - Sixth Edition Bill McBride. Paperback 2000 Very useful little book. Publishers each have their own way of identifying the first edition (or more correctly - first printing ) of any book they produce. This little book lists most publishers and uses a simplified code system based on the author's experience handling actual first editions.
Points of Issue : A Compendium of Points of Issue of books by 19th-20th Century Authors. Bill McBride. Paperback 1996. Another pocket-sized companion to the Guide listed above, it's also very useful. This is a list of specific books which have details (points of issue) that determine a first edition.First Editions : A Guide to Identification- Edward N Zempel (Editor). Hardcover 4th Edition (November 2001). A compilation of publishers actual statements about their methods of identifying first editions. Covers nearly 1700 trade and academic publishers in the US, the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. For all bibliophiles.