What was the very first book you can remember reading?
A Ladybird book or possibly a Biggles book? Maybe it was a Roald Dahl masterpiece – it all depends on your age group I suppose.
Perhaps it wasn’t a book: maybe it was a comic or an annual, such as Rupert or Batman?
In my case, I avidly read all the very early DC comics… Ah, I wish I still had those originals in my possession today.
Either way, I’ll bet that the minute you remember the titles of your early books, a whole flood of previously locked away memories will envelope you like a comforting nostalgic duvet.
Not bad for a series which for 30 years sold for 2s 6d each.
Nostalgia triggers a very powerful, emotive state of mind and advertising and marketing moguls try to invoke waves of nostalgia in our lives whenever they can, as it can spell handsome profits for them.
Nostalgia has the ability to confer a collectable status to physical objects.
Collect books which you are passionate about
Without passion your interest and attention to detail will quickly fall away. In my case, I collect vintage children’s books simply because of the illustrations.
The cover artwork, so evocative of an earlier, simpler time, is usually so well executed that, to me, it’s like a work of art. In fact many early children’s book cover illustrators went on to become recognised and collected artists in their own right.
Collect from the ‘golden era’
The golden era for children’s literature, in terms of collectability, was the 30-year period spanning the decades of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
There are of course exceptions to this rule, e.g. the aforementioned Roald Dahl, often referred to as ‘one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century’. His books spanned the 1960s to the early 1990s. In 2008, The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of ‘The 50 greatest British writers since 1945’.
Attention to detail
It is often the ‘flaws’, or on-going changes and modifications which can make a book collectable (similar to coins).
In the case of Ladybird books, one of the distinctive marks to look out for is the distinctive ladybird logo, initially with open wings, before changing to the more familiar closed-wing ladybird as the 1950s drew to a close.
The ladybird logo has since undergone several redesigns, but without a doubt, the books sporting the earliest ‘wings open’ motif are some of the most collectable.
Condition of the book and the dust jacket are most important when it comes to determining value
The book should be in a clean, unmarked state, with little or no tears. And most crucially, the book cover (dust jacket) should, wherever appropriate, be still in existence. So many dust jackets were ruined by the hands of careless children, thus making the remaining minority of books with intact covers far more valuable by comparison.
Wherever possible, try to obtain a first edition copy
Beware books which are later impressions of the first edition. The inside free-end paper (fep) will usually reveal much of this important data.
I am aware that these tips are much generalised: essentially an overview of the basic vintage book collecting guidelines.
I wish I had more space to go into considerably more detail. This is a topic which I am passionate about, having happily bought, sold and collected vintage children’s books and modern first editions for over 30 years.
Perhaps there might be further demand in the future for me to expand on this subject.
Nevertheless, these simple guidelines will be sufficient, if this topic floats your boat, to allow you to dive in and start gathering your very own specialised knowledge…
And ultimately, it’s the extent of your accumulated knowledge which will allow you to profit from this fascinating niche.
How to profit from modern children’s books
If you love children’s literature, have you ever considered creating your very own children’s book… and publishing it yourself?
Creating a children’s book really isn’t as difficult as you might think. I have created a course which will teach you how to overcome all the obstacles many consider to be barriers to becoming a published children’s author:
Perhaps you feel:
That you cannot write.
You cannot draw well enough to illustrate a book.
That it’s difficult to get published.
I address all of these concerns within my course and demonstrate – through a series of simple step-by-step videos – how you can cleverly side-step these issues, allowing you to quickly become a successful published children’s author in your own right.
Here’s that link again: