My Weekly Score: Irving Books

Things have been a little crazy around here lately, so I’m sorry for the gaps in our regular posting. I’m trying to stay on top of it, but I have to make sure I put the eBay store first. That’s the money maker after all. 😉

Also, to all my blogging friends: I’m not ignoring you! I haven’t been able to get into my blog e-mail for a few weeks. For some reason it just won’t let me log in. As soon as it’s up, though, rest assured I’ll make the rounds. I might just be a tad behind for a while, though.

But anyway, I promised two My Weekly Score posts this week, and here’s the first one. This is all about a set of books we sold by Washington Irving.

There are eight of them total, and they all seem to be from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The titles included The Alhambra, Conquest of Granada, Conquest of Spain, Spanish Voyages; Tales of a Traveller, Bracebridge Hall, Abbotsford, Wolfert’s Roost; The Life and Voyages of Columbus; Life of Washington I-II; Life of Washington III-IV; Astoria, Capt. Bonneville, Salmagundi; Mahomet, Goldsmith, Moorish Chronicles; Sketch Book, Crayon Papers, Knickerbocker, Tour of the Prairies

The books did have some damage, which you can see in the pictures, but nothing that made them unreadable. We picked these up for just a few dollars and sold them for…

…$70! Not bad. 😀

Have you had any luck buying, selling, or collecting vintage books?


Word of the Week: Foxing

Foxing is the term used to describe when old paper turns brown and/or begins to show brown spots due to its age. This is a fairly common phenomenon on older books and pieces of ephemera. There are a few theories as to why this happens, but the most common belief is that it is a fungal growth or that it might be caused by the oxidation of minerals found in the paper.

Although this is unfortunate, and some collectors don’t like seeing foxing on their pieces, it’s mostly not a big deal. It generally doesn’t affect the quality of the paper, just the coloring.

Here are some examples from our collection:

This is what typical foxing looks like. It’s just a darkening of the pages, starting from the outside and moving inward.

Here’s a closeup.


This is another form of foxing – the “age spots” that typically show up on older pieces.

Here’s a closeup on a few of them. This books doesn’t have a lot, but they can be fairly widespread across the whole page.


My Weekly Score: Antique Balzac Books

This was a nice little surprise for us. The Boss bought a set of these books at an auction for $55, which is generally a pretty good price for an old series like this. I dug all 26 of them out, took pictures, and put them online as quickly as I could. It was a good deal.

Then an hour later – as I was fishing through more of the boxes from the sale – I came across 27 more. Wow! That was a much bigger set than I had anticipated. Keeping my head down, hoping no one would notice my folly, I quickly snapped some more pictures and added them to the original listing. I bumped the price a little, but I still kept it low according to what Terapeak was telling me.

The books, by the way, are from the late 1800s to early 1900s. They are by Honore de Balzac and have been translated from French into English. They detail scenes from this period in time – from country life to Parisian life to military and political life. With 53 volumes, there’s PLENTY here to read through.

The cool thing, especially, is that these are hardcover, limited edition books. Only 1,000 copies were made of each title and the set we had was #52. This wasn’t the complete set, as some volumes from each title were definitely missing, but it was very nearly so! And overall the damage was fairly minimal – something that is always nice to see in books this old.

We ended up selling the whole set for $200.00. Not bad!!

Have you ever come across an old set of books like these? What were they about? Do you like keeping them or selling them?

My Weekly Score: Dickens Books

Old books are a great thing to sell on eBay, especially if your book happens to be written by one of the most influential and famous authors the world has ever seen.

Enter Charles Dickens and this 12-volume set you see below.

The books are from 1884 and were obviously part of the same collection. All of these factors led to a great sale price (but we’ll get to that in a minute).

The titles included the following (some of which had two titles to each volume): Christmas Books/Great Expectations, Martin Chuzzlewit, American & Italian Notes/Edwin Drood, Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, Our Mutual Friend, Dombey and Son, Christmas Stories/Uncommercial Traveller, Barnaby Rudge/Hard Times, Sketches by “Boz”/Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, Old Curiosity Shop/Reprinted Pieces

The books had some general shelf wear, but were actually in pretty good condition still. This was great considering the age of the collection.

We were lucky enough to snatch this set for about $23. I put them up for $74.99, and a bidding war ensued! It ended on $107.37 and we couldn’t be happier. I hope they live on someone’s bookshelf for a long time to come.

How to Sell: Books

This one is coming in a little bit late – sorry about that!

I won’t pretend to know everything there is to know about this topic, but I’ll share what little I have learned!

Selling vintage books can be quite the profitable business. Depending on the title, first edition hard covers with the dust jacket in pristine condition can be worth a lot of money. We’ve never been lucky enough to come across one of these rare objects, but I can tell you how to look for them at least!

First, a little terminology:

Spine: The backbone of the book where the pages are bound together.

These are the spines on a set of Stoddard's books

Cover: The front and back of the book that have the pages enclosed between them.

This is a hardcover edition of one of the titles from the Nancy Drew series.

Endsheet: Usually decorative or at least a different color, this is the sheet of paper that joins the cover to the rest of the book. The piece attached to the cover is called the pastedown, while the piece that can be freely turn is called the flyleaf.

This is a decorative endsheet. The pastedown is on the left, and the flyleaf is on the right.

Foredge: The ends of the pages opposite the spine.

Dust Jacket: The paper covering for the book in order to protect the covers.

A dust jacket in excellent condition will greatly increase the value of your book.

Now that we’ve got that down, here’s what you want to look for when you’re buying vintage books:

1. A HUGE portion of the value of a book is in the dust jacket. Make sure it is in the best condition possible.

2. Hardcovers are longer lasting and more valuable than softcovers.

3. Copyright and printing dates are always important. This will tell you what version of the book it is. First editions are always more valuable than later editions.

4. Be sure the pages are free of rips, folds, and writing, and that all of the pages are actually present. Be wary of worm holes and foxing (discoloration).

5. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter who wrote the book and what it is about. If a talented and famous illustrator drew pictures for the volume, it can be valuable based solely on this fact.

6. Nonfiction almost always does better than fiction, but there are a lot of other factors that go into the value of a book that would make this not so true.

7. Decorative endsheets increase the value of a book.

8. Binding is also important, and leather-bound books are something to keep an eye out for.

There you have it! That’s a pretty simple overview, but definitely some points to keep in mind. It would be a good idea to become familiar with certain types of books and start out with those. I’d recommend some of the original Nancy Drew books, as they’re pretty common and pretty popular.

Good luck!

My Weekly Score: Stoddard’s Lectures

We’ve scored a lot of really great finds in box lots at auctions. Box lots – for those of you that may not have experienced the wonder that is going to an auction – are boxes filled with miscellaneous items that are then auctioned off for a price per box. For example, you bid the amount you would be willing to pay for a single box. If you win the bid, you get to pick as many boxes as you want at that price. This continues until all the boxes are gone.

So, what’s so great about box lots? It’s true that the items in them might not necessarily be worth a fortune. Most of the time they’re things the auction house doesn’t want to take the time to sell individually. However, sometimes the auction house might not know what they have. Or maybe they don’t think it’ll sell well if it goes up on its own. In either case, you might be able to buy an incredibly valuable item for an extremely low price.

We have two finds that came out of box lots that are our favorites to talk about. The first one was an original Monopoly game from 1935 – still wrapped! – that we were able to sell for $350. The other was a silver bell that was part of a collectible series. We almost gave it to the birds to play with, but it’s a good thing we didn’t…we were able to sell it for $500! Both of these items came from a box in which we only paid about $4 for the entire contents.

Now that’s a deal!

While we didn’t score anything that big this time around, the box lot of books that we landed a week or two ago did produce a nice surprise: a complete set of books titled Stoddard’s Lectures.

The series has ten volumes that discuss various countries and are packed with all sorts of interesting information. It also comes with five supplemental books. All are hardcover and were copyrighted in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. The covers even have genuine leather accents along the spine and across the corners.

After breaking out the contents of the box, we ended up only paying $2 for this set. Even if we sold the books for $1 a copy, this would still be a great profit (have I said, yet, that I love box lots?). But, we did MUCH better than that. Our final price was $78.51 for this beautiful set.

Keep your eyes open for these books at antique shops and yard sales – you might be able to get a nice little profit from them. Remember that having the complete set is ALWAYS better than having just a few books.