How to Start a Rare and Vintage Children’s Book Collection

How to Start a Rare and Vintage Children’s Book Collection

I’m often asked how collectors get started.  In many instances, my customers came to collecting through a personal connection to a book or author.  They might have intended to find a treasured title from youth, but they became hooked, only to get hungrier and want to build a collection. In my world, the books we sell are known as rare, collectible, or even antiquarian, but outside of the trade, many people refer to what I sell as vintage children’s books.  We like to make our books accessible so if you just like books, you should follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest

We strive to have many books at all price points. We have a lot of visually or otherwise interesting books for well under $200, but if you want a classic, we have those, too. 

To learn more about some important books of the last 200 years, read on here. For the sake of brevity, it’s not comprehensive even though many authors and illustrators might deserve a place. We don’t sell traditional "series" books like Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys because although they are children's books, they fall into a class of their own.

"I like 'Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland', but can’t afford a first edition." Good point.  Many people would love this book, but copies don’t often come on the market and ones that do are very expensive. However a collection can do just fine with the American printing or with the 1866 British "first published" "Alice" and that is where expert guidance can help. See more Alice and Carrolliana here.

If you're just beginning, learn the criteria that determine collectible condition, including the importance or unimportance of dust wrappers. As a general rule, children's books must be in very good to fine condition, but the same rigorous standards used by dealers in modern literature are really not applied here. Many of these titles are collectible without dust wrappers and if they do have dust wrappers, the fact that the wrapper may be chipped, torn or incomplete might not be of great consequence. For example, if you find a first state of Baum's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" but the dust wrapper is soiled and worn, don't wait around for a "better" copy - just grab it and run! However, if you are offered a first edition of "Charlotte's Web" without dust wrapper, take a pass.