What are they worth?
far the most frequent e-mail I receive about Titanic instant books is:
"I have one of these books
and was wondering what its value is?"
is no simple answer. My advice is to call your local used bookseller (if you can find one -- they are getting scarcer these days than Titanic instant books) and
ask them--chances are they've seen several come and go.
- Obviously the best place to look for Titanic instant books is eBay. This was true in 1999 and it still is today.
April 2012 update: Many Titanic instant books turned up on eBay in the weeks leading up to the 100th anniversary. It seemed a good time to update my informal market survey of October 1999.
Here are the results of compiling winning bids on 198 eBay auctions between March 12 and April 21, 2012:
Average winning bid (US dollars) on eBay - March-April 2012
LOGAN MARSHALL $117.35 (102 auctions)
MARSHALL EVERETT $82.60 (55 auctions)
THOMAS RUSSELL $129.68 (27 auctions)
JAY MOWBRAY $87.84 (12 auctions)
HENRY FREDERICKS $149.90 (2 auctions)
- The dates chosen were arbitrary; I simply reviewed completed auctions on Saturday, 21 April and worked my way back to early March. Predictably, the number of listings increased as the anniversary approached, with auctions peaking from about 14 to 19 April.
- Average prices in 2012 when compared with 1999 were higher across the board, with several books fetching more than $200. Ironically, the most common titles attracted some of the highest bids, whereas less common titles like the Henry Fredericks sometimes attracted no bids. (My calculations were based only on auctions that ended with a sale -- many Titanic instant books listed on eBay did not sell, often because the opening bid or reserve price was set too high).
- The highest winning bid came in early March 2012 when a Logan Marshall in average condition sold for $1,000. The high bid was due to the seller claiming that the book included several signatures of Titanic survivors. (This book was not factored in to the average noted above; if it is included, the average price for a Logan Marshall rises to US$126). The same book was listed again on eBay with the same asking price, but it attracted no bidders. The seller acknowledged that no documentation was available to certify the authenticity of the signatures.
- Considering the publicity surrounding the 100th anniversary, it wasn't surprising that average prices were higher than in 1999. It's also worth noting that many Titanic instant books also sold in the $30-50 range, at the same time that others in similar or even worse condition were being auctioned off for much more.
- I hope this information will be of use to anyone contemplating purchasing a Titanic instant book. Remember that claims of "RARE" must be taken with a grain of salt, and while the books are indeed "FIRST EDITION"s and now 100 years old, they usually show their age, and are not nearly as scarce as many eBay sellers claim.
1999 update: a
survey of sixty winning bids on eBay for the four most common Titanic
instant book titles in a three-week period in August-September 1999
revealed the following averages:
bids in US funds on eBay, October 1999:
AVERAGE PRICE FOR ALL FOUR: $57.84
that these figures are actual winning bids, not asking prices of
to one Book Price database consulted in October 1999, the average asking price for a Titanic
instant book ranged from a high of US$180 (Mowbray) to a low of $50
(Everett). Average price for the Thomas H. Russell edition was $100,
and for the Logan Marshall, $79. Since most reports of prices before
November 1997 fell in the $20-30 range, it appears that market demand
pushed the value of Titanic instant books upward since the
release of the James Cameron film in late 1997. However, since existing copies are so numerous, and
condition varies so much, it is still possible to find one at a
pre-Cameron film price point.
(This still appears to be true in 2010, but prices can be expected to rise again in 2012, the centenary of the disaster).
most common misconception among buyers and sellers of these books is
that they are rare. They are in fact very common, especially here
in the northeast. Typically the Titanic instant books sold in used
bookstores for about $25 to $40 (Canadian) prior to the release of
the Cameron film. A lot depends on condition--a copy in exceptional
condition can fetch considerably more (see above). Naturally, a lot more
people are suddenly interested in these books and digging them out of
thing I can say from monitoring sales of these books on eBay for more
than a year: if you have the Marshall Everett or the Logan
Marshall books, you are not alone. They are VERY common and I have
seen dozens and dozens sold on eBay.
red-covered Thomas Russell and blue-covered Jay Henry Mowbray are somewhat less common. The Russell seems to be a
variation of the Marshall Everett. The Mowbray also may have had a smaller
print run because it was produced by a smaller company, and may have
appeared later in 1912 than the others & thus wasn't as successful
in cashing in on the disaster.
least common hardback is the Henry Fredericks--I've
only seen one or two of these on eBay.
fairly rare instant book is the paperback The Great Titanic Disaster
published by Laird & Lee of Chicago. The author is Thomas Russell
and it has virtually the same content as the hardback version, which was
in turn derived from the Marshall Everett. Because it is a paperback,
however, finding one in good condition (esp. with the covers intact) can
updated 14 April 2013