February 8, 2014  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 8:29 am No Responses »

First Edition Identification Points – Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, A Seriously Rare Edition

First edition identification points Very Hungry Caterpillar
A first edition of Eric Carle’s 1969 The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a very difficult book to find. Prior to 2013, in twenty years of collecting children’s picturebooks, I had never seen a first edition copy for sale. Sadly, I don't have one in my book collection.

Within the collectible bookselling market this scarcity had propagated some myths about the first edition identification points for The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Without ‘proof’, many booksellers thought the first edition could be identified by the Cleveland imprint of World Publishing Company. Times-Mirror bought World in the 1960′s, and transitioned the publishing office from Cleveland to New York, so Carle’s classic was thought to have been published prior to the New York transition.

World Publishing became World Collins in 1974 upon its purchase by Collins Publishing, so many thought that the Cleveland imprint, with World Publishing – not World Collins – was sufficient to identify a first edition The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Several of these imposters are marketed as first editions. We now know better.

A true first edition The Very Hungry Caterpillar came up for sale on eBay in 2013. The book is without DJ, however sufficient photographs are posted in the listing to positively identify it as a first edition. The book, without DJ, is being offered for $15,000! This seems a bit optimistic, but one can afford to reach when one has the only copy of a rare and highly desirable first edition book.

[Disclaimer: The images posted here are courtesy of eBay seller kirthgersen. I have no affiliation with "kirthgersen" and would not profit in any way from the sale of this or any of their books.]

Collectibilty

A first edition copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a highly desirable collectible children’s book. We’ve identified six factors which affect the collectibility and value of a contemporary children’s picturebook:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar hits it out of the park along all six factors. Great story and illustrations, the book has been translated into more than 50 languages and sold over 33 million copies.

While not his first book, the book launched Eric Carle’s career. Carle is succussful enough to have chartered The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the only full scale museum of its kind, located in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar has won a half dozen notable awards:

  • New York Times Ten Best Picture Books of the Year citation, 1969.
  • American Institute of Graphic Arts award, 1970.
  • Best Children’s Books of England citation, 1970.
  • Selection du Grand Prix des Treize, France, 1972.
  • Brooklyn Museum Art Books for Children citation, 1973, 1976, 1977.
  • Nakamori Reader’s Prize, Japan, 1975

Because of these credentials and its worldwide success in the market, in the 2012 list of the Top 100 Collectible Children’s Books, I selected The Very Hungry Caterpillar one of the Marquis 25 – one of the top twenty-five collectible children’s picturebooks of all time.

A first edition The Very Hungry Caterpillar is indeed a highly collectible book.

Scarcity

The scarcity of a collectible book has a major impact on its value, however alone does not drive value. The value results from the balance of supply and demand, where scarcity represents the supply of the first edition book and collectibility represents the demand. The market value of a book is determined by the relationship between scarcity and collectibility.

When valuing the 23,000 books for the Children’s Picturebook Price Guide, a 10-to-1 scale was used in the database to rank a book’s scarcity, with 10 being the most scarce, and 1 being the most common (click here for a definition of each ranking).

I would rate the scarcity of The Very Hungry Caterpillar a 10.

In support of this scarcity rating I would put forth that I’ve seen only one copy for sale in over twenty years of collecting first edition children’s books. There are potentially two others which could be first editions, however they don't definitively list the first edition identification points; one of the books proclaims the Cleveland imprint as proof. In the past fifteen years, I’ve executed over thirty book searches weekly on the internet trying to find collectible first edition picturebooks, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar. For the latter, this has been a pursuit to no end. Until late last year.

Market Value

With only one copy on the market it is difficult to value a book. There are really no good comparables (aka ‘comps’ within the bookselling industry) – Carle has many other successful books, several of which are scarce, however nothing approaches the collectibility of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Few books do.

Published a half decade earlier, the first edition Where The Wild Things Are is comparable in collectibility to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. There are ten first edition Where The Wild Things Are in VG/VG or better condition on the market offered at $8,500-to-$20,000. Market prices ebb and flow with the current availability a book; today I value the first edition Where The Wild Things Are in the $12,000-to-$15,000 range.

With this in mind, and in consideration of its higher scarcity, I value a first edition The Very Hungry Caterpillar in Very Good condition with a Very Good dust jacket, to be in the same range, about $12,000-to-$15,000. It could be higher. The first edition Where The Wild Things Are has auction results and ‘collectibility history’ within the market which support its market valuation, while the The Very Hungry Caterpillar does not. Yet.

Key First Edition Identification Points

The first edition The Very Hungry Caterpillar first edition a has full number line on the copyright page, “1 2 3 4 5 73 72 71 70 69″. See photograph and ensuing commentary, below.

The book being offered on eBay does not have a dust jacket, so I can’t post photos of the DJ flaps. I have a very early library edition of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, published prior to the Collins acquisition of World (so pre-1974), but do not want to post the DJ flaps for fear of erroneous identification. There have been enough myths about the first edition identification points for The Very Hungry Caterpillar so I don’t want to propogate additional misinformation.

[Disclaimer: The images posted here are courtesy of eBay seller kirthgersen. I have no affiliation with "kirthgersen" and would not profit in any way from the sale of this or any of their books.]

First Edition Book


First edition identification points Very Hungry CaterpillarFront Cover:


First edition identification points Very Hungry CaterpillarCopyright Page:
A full number line, “1 2 3 4 5 73 72 71 70 69″.

Following this convention, the second printing of The Very Hungry Caterpillar would drop the “1″ from the front of the number line and be “2 3 4 5 73 72 71 70 69″ if it were re-printed in 1969, or “2 3 4 5 73 72 71 70″ if it were printed in 1970.

Similarly, the third printing would drop the “1 2″ from the front of the number line, and be “3 4 5 73 72 71 70 69″ were it re-printed in 1969, and “3 4 5 73 72 71 70″ if in 1970.

However no second printings or third printings have ever surfaced which follow this number line convention. I think this is what has caused confusion within the market. Had second or third or any printings been found which follow this number line convention, then it would have been easy to deduce the first edition identification points for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.


First edition identification points Very Hungry CaterpillarTitle Page:
The World Publishing Company / New York and Cleveland.

No date on the title page, and “World Publishing Company” as expected; World-Collins would indicate a post-1974 printing.


First edition identification points Very Hungry CaterpillarBook Back:

Note the ‘A3450′ on the bottom right.


 
 January 31, 2014  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 4:13 pm No Responses »
2014 Caldecott Medal Winners Announced This Week!

Every year at it’s mid-Winter Conference the American Library Association presents the Caldecott Award “to the artist of the most distinguished American picturebook for children.” In addition to the Caldecott Medal award, several Honor awards are presented to the runner-ups in the category. The awards were announced this past Monday, Jan. 26, 2014. The day [...]

 
 January 29, 2013  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 6:22 pm No Responses »
2013 Caldecott Awards Announced

2013 Caldecott Medal Winner The 2013 Caldecott Medal winner is This Is Not My Hat illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press). This Is Not My Hat is Raschka's second Caldecott Medal, having won the 2006 award for The Hello, Goodbye Window. This Is Not My Hat is a wordless picturebook. From the American Library Association's [...]

 
 January 27, 2013  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 6:12 pm No Responses »
Search for the first 40 Caldecott Medal Winners

Searching For The First Forty Caldecott Medal Books Last year I performed an internet search for the first editions of the first twenty Caldecott Medal books to determine the number of books currently being offered for sale, and similar to past searches, calculate the average selling price. I recently performed a similar search, this time [...]

 
 October 15, 2012  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 7:49 pm No Responses »
First Fifty Newbery Medal Winners

Searching For The First Fifty Newbery Medal Books A bit of a transition for the blog today. To date this site has dealt solely with contemporary American picturebooks, the genre beginning with Wanda Gag's 1927 Millions Of Cats. Since there is little formal information readily available on the internet, I'm going to begin providing first [...]

 
 September 30, 2012  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 11:48 am No Responses »
Scarcity Versus Demand For First Edition Picturebooks

The Precarious Balance: Scarcity and Demand for First Edition Picturebooks As most experienced book collectors and booksellers know, the scarcity of a book has a major impact on its value in the market. Scarcity in and of itself does not drive value, but instead value results from a combination of scarcity and demand. For books, [...]

 
Launch Pad To First Edition Beginner Books

Identifying First Edition Beginner Books A couple of years ago I posted a series of blog articles which provided identification points for the first fifty Beginner Books, and later collected them into one permanant webpage (see Identifying First Edition Beginner Books). The articles included identification points for each book, and provided the publication sequence along [...]

 
Search For The 2nd Twenty Caldecott Medal Books

Searching For The Second Twenty Caldecott Medal Books A couple of months ago we performed an internet search for the first editions of the first twenty Caldecott Medal books to determine the number of books currently being offered for sale, and similar to past searches, calculate the average selling price. This past week we performed [...]

Mar 222012
 
 March 22, 2012  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 9:47 am , ,  No Responses »

While eBay is not the bookselling venue it once was, I continue to regularly purchase collectible children’s books on the site. I’ve been a buyer of collectible children’s books on eBay since 1998 and perform about 50 saved searches weekly. Over the past five years the quality and quantity of collectible children’s books listed on eBay [...]

Mar 062012
 
 March 6, 2012  Posted by Stan Zielinski at 8:03 pm ,  No Responses »
Cutting Corners

Experienced booksellers and book collectors have come upon the front flaps of dust jackets with the top or bottom corner clipped, yet, strangely the books’ price still evident on the uncut corner. Why is the DJ’s corner cut off and the price still evident? Why cut the book’s corner at all? This mystery is explained [...]

© Stan Zielinski, author of the Children's Picturebook Price Guide, is a serious collector having fun with fun books.

The information offered on the website and blog is offered free of charge. Any uses, references, and or copies of this website in whole or in part must include the bibliographic citation, including author attribution, article title, date and the URL http://1stedition.net and MUST include a copy of the copyright notice. All materials contained on this website are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission.

Creative Commons License
This work by Stan Zielinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha