About Old Books
How old, rare books are described and rated
What makes a book rare?
Many things affect the value of books and just because a book may be old, doesn't mean it's rare. First editions signed by the author may make a particular book deemed rare by book collectors. The number of copies known to exist, or a first printing of a particular book can also affect its value in classifying it as a rare book.
Despite a books limitations on the number of copies that may have printed, or even though it may be signed by the author, if its condition is only Poor to Good, the value of the book may be drastically reduced. Demand also plays an important role in the value of a book, old or not. In some cases, a book may be in Very Good or Mint condition, be old and signed by the author making its value quite high, but if their aren't many collectors for that particular kind of book, say Russian History for example, you're not going to find rare, old book collectors who might be interested in buying your book. Its the case of supply and demand. While supply may be scarce, if there are no collectors interested in the topic, the demand is low. But don't give up! You never know which old book collecters are monitoring Really Old Books who just might happen to be looking for exactly what you have to offer. Please go to our Sell Old Books page to contact me about your books.
Here is where you find descriptions about books. The information is from the Independent Online Booksellers Association (IOBA).
AS NEW; FINE; MINT: Without faults or defects.
NEAR FINE: a book approaching FINE (or AS NEW or MINT) but with a couple of very minor defects or faults, which must be noted.
[NOTE: From here on, there may be "+ (Plus)" or "- (Minus)" in a grade, which will mean that it is above the grade noted but not quite to the next higher grade for "+", and that it is below the grade noted but not quite to the next lower grade for "-", i.e., Very Good + (or Plus)/Very Good - (or Minus). Which means the book is better than Very Good and the dust jacket grade is less than Very Good.]
VERY GOOD: A book showing some signs of wear. Any defects or faults must be noted.
GOOD: The average used book that is totally complete (as issued) and intact. Any defects must be noted.
FAIR: A worn book that has complete text pages (including those with maps or plates) but may lack endpapers, half-title page, etc. Any defects or faults must be noted.
POOR or READING COPY: A book that is sufficiently worn that its only merit is the complete text, which must be legible. Any missing maps or plates must be noted. May be soiled, scuffed, stained, or spotted, and may have loose joints, hinges, pages, etc.
EX-LIBRARY: Must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.
BOOK CLUB: Must always be noted as such no matter what the condition of the book.
BINDING COPY: A book in which the text block, including illustrations, is complete but the binding is lacking, or in such poor condition it is beyond realistic restoration efforts.
REMAINDER MARKS, BOOKPLATES, PREVIOUS OWNER'S NAME: These are faults and must always be noted, if they apply.
Odd But Rare
Below are odd but rare things for sale.
I dug this meteor up in a dry creek bed east of Prescott Arizona in the late 90s while gold prospecting. It was the most exciting find I've ever had. It comes from the giant Barringer meteorite crater, which, as the crow flies, is somewhere around 17 miles NE of where I found it.
It weighs a lot, about the size of a hardball and is pock-marked like you might think all meteors would be. But don't be fooled, many don't look anything at all like it. I took my space rock to the University of Arizona and some teacher there offered to buy it from me, but I turned him down.
It weighs a lot! I estimate it at somewhere north of two pounds. I am asking $1,000 firm for it. I will even supply a letter detailing where I dug it up.
Note, these are some of the rarest Hallmark Christmas Ornaments that my wife collected over the years - including the boxes they came in. There are so many, I created a page just for these Hallmark Ornaments.
Like books, I also collected old stock certificates over the years. These are mostly mining stocks, but there are some from the Civil War era, one in particular is very rare - a Civil War bond from New York.