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A trip down memory lane
Do you remember your first day at school?
Your first kiss?
The first time you took home a paycheck?
Your baby’s first smile, steps, and words?
First times are truly magical and can never be replicated. Or can they?
Do you remember your first day of high school?
Your most recent kiss?
The first time you landed a promotion?
Your second child’s first smile, steps, and words?
The same conflict occurs in the quirky world of bibliomanes. Strictly speaking the very first edition of a book was probably a pile of palimpsests on the author’s desk. The emerging book then morphs through a sequence of early printing for editing and layout purposes.
Once all that is finalized, the next step in the evolution of the book is the first printing of the first edition of a work. Should all those books be sold, the next run is called a “first edition, second printing”. Unless of course the powers that be take the opportunity to make sweeping changes. The first printing of each subsequent version – hardback versus softback, with or without illustrations, translated into different languages – are referred to as “first thus”.
No wonder then that when buying first edition books, the number one priority is to identify a first edition – a task that requires the assistance of experienced specialists.
First edition signed books are valuable
The crème de la crème of first editions are signed first edition books.
A well-known collector noted this, “Even if the second print run of a book is much smaller (rarer) than the first printing, the collector will consistently prefer the first printing. By the same token, a first printing with some condition problems will generally still command a higher price than a fine condition second printing.
However, the author’s signature can trump these value rules. …A signed second printing is comparable in value, andcan bemore valuable than an unsigned first printing.”
Because the value of a book as is directly related to the book’s relative scarcity, first edition signed books double the ante.