Please tell me this old book isn't worth anything.

My mother died at the end of May and I’m going through various caches of saved things. One book that has been passed down at least twice already is The Works of Charles Dickens, Volume I, NY P. F. Collier, publisher.

The binding is leather, but battered badly. The back cover is present, but not attached. There is no publishing date. There’s a drawing of Dickens in the front (as an illustration - at least I assume that’s Dickens) with a signed name that looks like it starts with an M, and the date 1870 under that. I assume that’s the date of the drawing, not the date of the book.

The estate is being disbursed to three people, and I don’t want to toss anything that has value. I’m guessing that it was originally kept either because of Great Grandma’s hand drawn bookplate, or because someone thought that it must be worth something because it’s old. I would really prefer to cut out the book plate page and toss the rest.

Can anyone reassure me that I’m not making a big mistake if I do? Then I can get on to deciding what to do with the vials of wheatback pennies.

I found the same volume on ABEbooks listed for $95. However, this one is in “very good” condition.

You said the spine on yours is messed and the back cover is detached, right?

The condition of old books, like old anything, is a very large percentage of the value. I’d go with your original thought.

The back cover is detatched. The front cover and outer spine are detached in one piece. The cover is worn and banged up enough that it’s hard to make out the title and author, and someone has scratched numbers on the front. The first bunch of pages is loose and held in by just a few strings of the binding. Some of the pages in that bunch are either tattered, folded, or water marked.

The inner pages are readable and not too yellow. If the occasional brown spot is called foxing, then it’s mildly foxed. Also a few stains of unknown origin.

The illustration table lists 40 odd illustrations. Would those be worth anything, removed from the book?

List them on ebay (for a reserved price) and find out.

:confused: Isn’t that one published in 1990? That doesn’t seem relevant to whether Yllaria’s book from 1870 or earlier has value.

The book doesn’t have a publication date. The illustration/drawing had the date. The book could have been published years later.

Shit, my bad. ABEbooks mobile site stripped out the 1990 date from my phone. I had to go to the full site to see what you were talking about. But from the description it sounded exactly the same: “Frontispiece (a drawing of Dickins) with un readable signature under it with the date 1870. No publishing date printed.”

I’m guessing whoever published this 1990 version (B&N probably) just used the public domain photostat version that Yllaria has the original of and that’s why the inside sounds identical.

Also, anyone who thinks they’re getting $95 for one of those gilt-edged books they sell at B&N is high.

Sorry about that Yllaria, for getting off on a wrong track. I’ll keep poking around, but it looks like it probably isn’t worth much.

I can’t speak to that book, but I was going through my bookshelf and found some stuff from the late 1800s. I was disappointed when I looked up the value. In anything less that really good condition, they weren’t worth much.

I think I used eBay as a guide. Probably not the most accurate for literary value, but useful still.
ETA: Does your book look like this? This one is on eBay currently bid at $74.99. I assume it’s in better condition
than what you have.

How old does it look? No publication date generally means it’s at least 50 years old.

There were lots of Collier editions from 1911 and earlier. Most (all?) were cloth bound. That might mean yours was re-bound, or that it was older or newer than those. What colour is the leather?

A single volume from a set of 30 is rarely worth much even in good condition.

It isn’t worth anything.

Dickens was a huge best seller, in his own time and afterwards. Millions of copies of his works have been printed, published singly and in various anthologies (often pirated, I think). Unless you have a certifiable first edition of one of the works, in good condition, it is worthless.

This being a “Collected Works” rather than an individual novel, simply reinforces the point. It ain’t a first edition.

Wouldn’t you rather it be worth a fortune?

It has no chance of being worth a fortune. I was afraid that it had just enough value that I’d feel obligated to mess with it.

Thank you. That was my intuitive take, and I’m really tired of trying to decide if something is worth researching. A jar full of steel pennies. Rolls of 1964 and older quarters. LA Olympics coins. Liberty Lobby silver coins.

Looking closer, you’re right. It’s cloth bound. The cloth has been made to look like nobby leather, but if you look at the torn edges, there are threads.

I am ready to let go. I think I’m stuck trying to sell the Fortune magazines, though. Each in their own box.

Look through the steel pennies for copper pennies from that year. A small number of copper ones were minted in the year the steel ones were introduced. I believe they are worth the effort of puttering through the jar.

Keep the book for sentimental reasons.

1943 steel pennies can probably be sold for 25¢ each or more. The extremely valuable one would be 1944 steel penny.

Some people keep emergency money in books. You might want to riffle the pages for something like that, just in case.

Oh, yes. We may miss one, but we try to remind each other that no book or box is to leave the house unexamined. So far we haven’t found anything in between pages besides old envelopes, note paper, and the return addresses torn off of envelopes. I found $140 in an inside pocket of the leather carrier of a study bible, though.

The plastic vials of dimes and quarters in the medicine chest were kind of puzzling. But they were used medicine vials, so I suppose it had a kind of sense.

The rolls of pre-1964 quarters are worth a lot more than the $10 face value. They sell for about $200 each on eBay, regardless of condition.

That’s good information to have. Thanks.

There are also some single silver coins. When I google prices and then check ebay, it looks like the bids come in at about the list price, but usually only in the last few hours. And then ebay gets 9%. I still have to check a couple of coin dealers, but that might be my best bet. And I need to check back at ebay to see if that’s a trend or just a couple of moments in time.

That should have been “pre-65” quarters, halves and dimes. After 1964, we went to the clad coins. Nickels are largely worthless, as they have no silver content. If you contact Samclem on this board, he can help you establish approximate values for your single coins and rolls.