Most Valuable Books – 1950’s

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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.

Seven Dr. Seuss books make the list of most valuable picturebooks from the 1950’s, headed by The Cat In The Hat.  The true first state of Horton Hears A Who, with Seuss title list in back of book (list not on copyright page) is extremely difficult to find.  Of the seven Seuss books, Horton/Who, If I Ran The Zoo, and Scrambled Eggs Super are much more difficult to find than the others.  Grinch/Christmas currently has higher market value due to significant pop culture awareness.  Cat/Hat has higher pop culture awareness, but also literary significance as essentially the first beginning reader trade book, being the catalyst for a multi-billion dollar industry, and simultaneously leading to the virtual extinction of the primary reader published by the educational system (i.e. Dick and Jane readers, et al)

Harold And The Purple Crayon is the second most valuable book on the list, however is probably the most difficult book on the 1950’s list to obtain in collectible first edition condition. Harold’s Trip To The Sky is the second Crockett Johnson book to appear.  Robert McCloskey’s classic book, Journey Cake, Ho!, is also very difficult to find in first edition, as is Lynd Ward’s Caldecott Medal winning book, The Biggest Bear.

The first Eloise book is the third most valuable book from the 1950’s.  Being the first book in the Eloise franchise, it is much more difficult to find then the other books in the series. The subsequent books in the series, Eloise In Paris (1956), Eloise At Christmastime (1959), Eloise In Moscow (1959), and Eloise in London (1961) are not extremely difficult to find in first edition, collectible condition since they were initially printed in higher quantity than the original Eloise.

H.A. Rey’s Curious George character is featured in three books on the list of most valuable picturebooks from the 1950’s,   Each of the books is difficult to find in first edition format.

Four Caldecott Medal books and three Caldecott Honor books are on the list.  It is peculiar that three Caldecott Honor books from the 1950’s have a higher market value then the most valuable Caldecott Medal book from the decade.  The third of these Honor books, A Very Special House, is the first Maurice Sendak book to appear on the Most Valuable lists.


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.

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