Almost from time immemorial book collecting, and before that manuscript collecting, and before that anything that you could scratch or carve a message on, has been the subject of much interest.
Today we have many categories of book collecting- Fancy bindings, Religious books, Philosophy books, Mystery books, Modern 1st editions, Leather bound books, Textbooks, Early readers, Archaeology books, Art books, Children's books and numberless others.
You need not break the bank on 15th and 16th century works. There are some areas that are not yet popular and have a lot of growing to do. Alice in Wonderland with it's endless editions and artists is a fertile field for study as is Disney and Pinocchio. Religious books are now enjoying a greatly increased following. Early readers have a ways to go in appreciation yet. Poetry works may be on the decline a bit though still holding firm.
Areas that appear unexploited at this time are Salesman's Dummy books. These are typically turn of the century or early 20th century works comprising highlights of several books. They were designed for salesmen to take orders with. These frequently included covers, spines, limited amounts of text and a good supply of illustrations from each featured book all bound together. Currently these are cheap out of all proportion to their scarcity. Search and you shall find in the land where the Princes of Serendip reign.
ARC's (Advance review Copies) are also scarce relative to their key role in publication. These usually contain uncorrected proofs of the book to be issued, often along with author's signatures. They usually sell, even signed, at a considerable discount to the First Edition work which actually came later.
Local Cookbooks such as published for church groups, clubs, etc. are now very low priced. You have to have a game plan here or risk being overwhelmed by the mass of cheap material now out there.
Beeton's 1907 magazine, arguably the most highly valued magazine is popular for pritning "A Study in Scarlet", Sherlock Holmes first appearance in print. This sold in 1929 for a few shillings, about 1974 it achieved 80L at auction. A couple of years ago it exeeded $150,000 when sold at auction.
Early magazines with their appearances of Edgar Alan Poe, Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Maxfield Parrish, Winslow Homer and the Wyeths among hundreds of coveted authors and artists in print are a fertile field.
The best children's collection assembled was put together by a poorly paid school teacher in the the years when Children's books were not considered suitable for serious collectors. Today that collection resides at Yale to world acclaim.
There is such a large world out there. Pick your specialty, buy quality, and your search will be a happy one and your rewards many.
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