Most Valuable Books – 1980s

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Most Valuable First Edition Picturebooks

The two Chris Van Allsburg Caldecott Medal books are at the top of the most valuable books from the 1980’s. Of the two, Jumanji is more difficult to find in fine first edition condition, however there is more demand for the Polar Express, therefore its higher market value. Since the price guide’s publication, we have reduced the estimated market value of both books – in our opinion, there are too many first edition copies on the market to justify a $1000+ valuation. Van Allsburg has two other books on the list, The Wreck Of The Zephyr and The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick.

Most valuable books

Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Handford, makes the list. First editions of this first Waldo book are not easy to find. The other Waldo books had higher first print runs due to the success of Where’s Waldo?, and are relatively common.

Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, authored two books on the list as Theo LeSieg: the Tooth Book, illustrated by Roy McKie, and I Am Not Going To Get Up Today!, illustrated by the prolific James Stevenson.

For the second decade in a row, all ten Caldecott Medal books are included in the most valuable books of the decade. In addition, three Caldecott Honor books make the list. Of the Caldecott Medal winning books, Owl Moon and Song And Dance Man are probably the two most difficult to locate. Stephen Gammell, author/illustrator of Song And Dance Man has a solid collector following, however is not well known with the general population or, even the general bookselling market for that matter. Children bookselling specialists are aware of Gammell, as he has won two Caldecott Honor awards in addition to his CM.

Shadow was the third Caldecott Medal award for Marcia Brown, who also won six Caldecott Honor awards during her career. David Wiesner is now tied with Brown for the most Caldecott Medals, after winning his third for Flotsam. Because of this, there are several Wiesner illustrated books from the 1980’s which could see increased collector interest, notably ET, The Story Of A Green Planet (high first print run, however has ‘pop culture’ demand impact, and also cross-over appeal to movie memorabilia collectors) and Free Fall, a 1989 Caldecott Honor book.

A Visit To William Blake’s Inn, by Alice and Martin Provensen, is a dual award book, winning a Caldecott Honor award, and also won the 1982 Newbery Medal, which is more significant from the perspective of collectibility. Because of this, the book probably has some positive market expectations.

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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