Most Valuable First Edition Picturebooks
In Chapter 8 of the Children’s Picturebook Price Guide, we list the most valuable picturebooks, followed by a page describing the most valuable picturebooks of each decade.
Horton Hatches The Egg, by Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, tops the list of the most valuable children’s picturebooks of the decade. First edition Dr. Seuss books are usually notoriously difficult to identify (see First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books, by Younger/Hirsch for bibliographic info) – Horton being an exception, our copy includes ‘First Printing’ on the copyright page. Remarkably, four of Dr. Seuss books are in the top eight most valuable picturebooks from the 1940’s!
Tasha Tudor authored and illustrated eight of the most valuable picturebooks from the 1940’s, among them The County Fair and Thistly B. There are three Curious George books on the list, by H.A. Rey, each of which is fairly difficult to find in first edition collectible format. Although Rey’s book, Cecily G. And The 9 Monkeys is the second American book featuring Curious George, the book’s British and French version precede the 1941 American printing of Curious George. The British version, published in 1939, was titled Raffy And The 9 Monkeys; the French version, also published in 1939, was titled Rafi et les 9 Singes.
Robert McCloskey authored and illustrated three books on the list, Make Way For Ducklings, Blueberries For Sal, and Homer Price. Blueberries For Sal is one of the most difficult Caldecott Honor books to find in first edition. Based upon our experience, Make Way For Ducklings and Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House are the two most difficult Caldecott Medal books to find in a first edition. The Little House is one of the few Caldecott Medal winning books missing from our collection.
The Caldecott awards make a significant impact on the list, with five Medal books and four Honor books on the list. The Medal books are: Make Way For Ducklings, The Little House, Many Moons, The Rooster Crows, and The Big Snow. The Rooster Crows was the second Caldecott award for Maud and Miska Petersham – An American ABC (1941) earned them a Caldecott Honor. For Berta and Elmer Haders, The Big Snow was their third Caldecott award. The Hader’s previously had won Caldecott Honor awards for Cock-A-Doodle Doo (1940) and The Mighty Hunter (1943).
From Chapter 8 of the Children’s Picturebook Price Guide:
Note the key factors that impact the collectibility of the books. Each is a high quality story with imaginative or inventive illustrations, therefore the reading public has recurrently purchased the books for decades. Because of this, the books have stayed in print since their original publication and gone into many, many printings.
Many of the books have earned a children’s picturebook award, while many of the illustrators have won numerous awards. All of the illustrators have high esteem within the book publishing market place. Many of the book’s characters became franchise characters, where one or more sequels were published, and line extensions have been made into other consumer product areas (i.e. toys, games, dolls, costumes, decorations, etc…). Lastly, many of the books or characters have crossed over into pop culture, either via a TV or feature film adaptation.
The estimated values in the table are for first edition books with dust jackets.