Any idea how much this book is worth?

My father-in-law has a 1st edition copy of The Journals of Lewis and Clark published in, I think, 1814. It is a complete set with the fold-out map and everything. When I saw it, it was in pretty good condition, just a little discolored (it’s 200 years old!).

He’s been thinking of selling it, maybe on Ebay (which I’ve discouraged). We don’t really know what it’s worth. I found this link which is an article about a bookstore in Portland, OR that seems to have the same thing on sale for $100,000.

Any dopers out there with knowledge of rare/antique books? Could it really be this valuable?

Yeah, I know I could go to an antique/rare bookstore and ask but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to leave my computer

There are sites where you can get general idea of the value of a book, bearing in mind that it’s the condition that matters most. is a good place to start; you can also try Amazon and see what they’re selling it for, if anything, or even eBay.

You can also google “rare books”.

Thanks, dantheman. I should have added that I’ve spent a good deal of the afternoon Googling (don’t tell my boss). I couldn’t find anything similar on Ebay or other auction sites, or the rare book sites that I visited. I’ll check out your link though. Thanks for your help!

Before anyone here gives you a quote, you need to narrow it down in terms of publisher, exact title and any authors/editors listed. is good; so is Many, many editions of this title have probably been published so it’s important to get as close a match as possible on all the details (binding, etc.)

If you really do think it’s worth something check under used books in your yellow pages for any store or dealer that says they do appraisals.

For something of that nature you need to approach one of the top notch book dealers, preferably in person.

Check out this site,, the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America.

This site,, has an image of the 1814 first edition, which may help you determine if what you have is the real thing or not. The true first edition by Biddle is in two volumes.

I know there’s a thread around here discussing this, because I was looking for it myself (I have a 1900 red-leatherbound edition of Tennyson’s Maud). Among the participants in the thread was Lynn Bodoni, IIRC, one of our wonderful administrators here. But for the life of me, I can’t remember the site she mentioned - exlibris? Crap. Time to search!

I think that Exapno is correct; for something of that rarity and quality, you’ll likely not be able to find a comparison price. If you could, it might be at Alabris. Good luck, that sounds like a wonderful treasure.