Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (2023)

Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr Seuss Books

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (1)The following table is an excerpt from our book the Children's Picturebook Price Guide. The estimated values are for first edition books, with dust jackets.

Any person seriously in the market for Dr. Seuss books should also own a copy of First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books (2002), by Helen Younger, Marc Younger, and Dan Hirsch. Within the hobby, this book is considered the definitive guide to correctly identifying Dr. Seuss first edition books, providing detailed information on each book, along with full color examples of books and dust jackets. Given the cost of making a mistake with Dr. Seuss first editions, the Younger/Hirsch guide is an invaluable resource.

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (2)We had been collecting Dr. Seuss first edition books for many years prior to the publication of the Younger/Hirsch book, and in the process had compiled our own list of points to help us identify many of the older first edition books. This list is included in the Children's Picturebook Price Guide

In all cases, we either own, or have had in our possession, the first edition book with the identifying points listed. The information differs in several cases from that presented in Younger/Hirsch, since it is a result of our own research.

We have been posting identification points (points of issue) for Dr. Seuss first edition books on the Identifying Dr. Seuss First Edition Books. In the table below, the book's title is a link to the identification points for the first edition book.

Values for Dr. Seuss First Edition Books

The values are for first edition books, with dust jackets.

Values For Dr. Seuss Books
Year Book Title VG- VG VG+
1937 And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street $8,000 $9,000 $12,000
1938 The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins $6,000 $7,500 $9,000
1939 The Seven Lady Godivas $500 $750 $900
1939 The King's Stilts $6,000 $7,500 $9,000
1940 Horton Hatches The Egg $6,000 $7,500 $9,000
1947 McElligot's Pool $4,000 $5,000 $6,000
1948 Thidwick: The Big-Hearted Moose $3,000 $3,750 $4,500
1949 Bartholomew And The Oobleck $2,000 $2,500 $3,000
1950 If I Ran The Zoo $1,600 $2,000 $2,400
1953 Scrambled Eggs Super $1,200 $1,400 $1,600
1954 Horton Hears A Who $1,600 $2,000 $2,800
1955 On Beyond Zebra $800 $1,000 $1,200
1956 If I Ran The Circus $800 $1,000 $1,200
1957 The Cat In The Hat $2,400 $3,200 $4,000
1957 How The Grinch Stole Christmas $1,200 $1,600 $2,000
1958 Cat In The Hat Comes Back $180 $240 $300
1958 Yertle The Turtle And Other Stories $180 $240 $300
1959 Happy Birthday To You $160 $200 $260
1960 One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish $380 $520 $640
1960 Green Eggs And Ham $2,400 $3,600 $4,800
1961 The Sneetches And Other Stories $150 $225 $300
1962 Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book $150 $225 $300
1963 Hop On Pop $320 $420 $520
1963 Dr. Seuss's ABC $320 $420 $520
1965 Fox In Socks $150 $225 $300
1965 I Had Trouble In Getting To Solla Sollew $150 $225 $300
1967 The Cat In The Hat Song Book $90 $120 $150
1968 Foot Book $800 $1,200 $1,600

Identifying Dr. Seuss First Edition Books Without Dust Jackets

The conventional wisdom among booksellers is first edition Dr. Seuss books cannot be identified without the dust jacket. This used to be true. With the recent discovery of some salient information, today, most of the large format Dr. Seuss books can be identified as first printings without the dust jacket.

There are a couple of cases where the first printing book is indistinguishable from the book used in the 2nd and 3rd printing. In these cases, the book remained unchanged but the dust jacket was changed. Even so, these books still have collectibility (desirability) and value.

To help clarify, from the ABAA’s glossary:

Edition & Printing:

Edition includes the copies of a book or other printed material which originate from the same plates or setting of type. If 500 copies of a book are printed on Oct. 5 and 300 copies are printed from the same substantially unchanged plates on Dec. 10, all 800 copies are part of the same edition.

Printing: the copies of a book or other printed material which originate from the same press run or from the same plates or setting of type at one time.

In the example given for "Edition" above, the 500 copies would be the first printing and the 300 copies comprise the second printing.

First Edition:

All of the copies printed from the first setting of type; can include multiple printings if all are from the same setting of type. When book collectors use the term first edition, they are usually referring to the first printing and if there are different states or issues, the earliest of those.

In all of the Dr. Seuss books presented, the first edition book can be identified without the dust jackets. In nearly all cases, the book is also the first edition/first printing. In a couple of cases, the book is the first edition/’first or early’ printing.

We describe ‘Availability’ for each of the books. Most of the first edition books are difficult to find in the market. ‘Very difficult’ means one or no copies are usually available from the internet bookselling sites (ABE, Alibris, or Bookfinder). ‘Extremely difficult’ means a copy is not usually on the market, however might surface once or twice per year.

[Note: Where applicable, below, the book's title links to the identification points for the first edition book with dust jacket.]

It’s difficult to price first edition books without dust jackets. A first edition Mulberry Street with dust jacket might sell for $8000 in Very Good condition. The first edition book might sell in the $300-$600 range, so about 1/20th the value of the first edition book with dust jacket.

The Cat In The Hat first edition book with dust jacket would have a market value of $4000 or so in Very Good condition. The first edition book might sell for $50 or so, since it is not too difficult to find.

Since the Dr. Seuss first edition books with dust jacket are too expensive for many children's book collectors, they might consider the first edition book without dust jacket as an alternative.

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street1937

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (3)Title page with ‘1937,’ Vanguard Press, and copyright page with no additional printings listed. Marco’s shorts are white on the front cover; on later printings Marco had blue shorts.

Availability: ‘White pants’ books are extremely difficult to find.

The 500 Hats Of Bartholomew Cubbins1938

The front endpapers progress from large hats to small hats; the rear endpapers progress from small hats to large hats. On later printings the progression was reversed.

Availability: ‘Large-to-small hat’ books are extremely difficult to find.

The King's Stilts1939

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (4)Front cover with the yellow text ‘The King’s Stilts by Dr. Seuss’ on a red background covering nearly the entire area. On later printings, the title was reduced in size, with red text on a yellow cloth background.

Availability: ‘Large logo’ books are very difficult to find.

Horton Hatches The Egg1940

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (5)

States ‘First Printing’ on the copyright page.

Availability: ‘First Printing’ books are extremely difficult to find.

McElligot’s Pool1947

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (6)Front cover has fish with mouth open.

Availability: ‘Open mouth’ books are very difficult to find.

Thidwick: The Big-Hearted Moose 1948

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (7)The first edition boards are red. The book with red boards was used with the first printing dust jacket (with ‘starburst’) and the second printing dust jacket (sans ‘starburst’, ‘200/200’ on front flap).

Availability: Red boards books are difficult to find.

Bartholomew And The Oobleck1949

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (8)The first printing book has blue boards. Later printings were changed to red boards.

Availability: Blue boards books are difficult to find.

If I Ran The Zoo1950

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (9)Copyright page with seven lines only, omitting the line “BASED ON MATERIAL WHICH ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN REDBOOK MAGAZINE.” Later printings have eight lines, including the Redbook line.

Availability: ‘No Redbook’ boards books are extremely difficult to find.

Horton Hears A Who1954

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (10)Horton has full ear on back cover and the list of other Seuss titles on the recto of the back free endpaper. Second printings also have Horton with full ear on back cover and Seuss title list on the copyright page.

Availability: ‘Full ear/Rear titles page’ boards books are extremely difficult to find.
Availability: ‘Full ear/Copyright titles page’ books are very difficult to find.

If I Ran The Circus1956

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (11)The first printing book has pink boards. Later printings were changed to red & yellow boards.

Availability: ‘Pink boards’ books are not so difficult to find.

The Cat In The Hat 1957

Matte boards with single binding signature. Later printings have glossy boards with three binding signatures.

The ‘matte cover with single signature’ book can be found with the 2nd printing dust jacket (no price on flap) and 3rd printing dust jackets (‘195/195’ on front flap).

Availability: ‘Single signature’ books are difficult to find.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas1957

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (12)Back cover with full page advertisement for The Cat In The Hat offered for sale for $2.00.

This book was used on 2nd printing dust jackets (295/295 front flap) and 3rd printing dust jackets (295/295 and 16 titles listed).

Availability: ‘Back Ad $2.00’ books are not so difficult to find.

Cat In The Hat Comes Back1958

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (13)Copyright page states ‘First Printing.” Also, the snowball to the left of the Cat's tail is only on the first edition book.

Availability: ‘First Printing’ books are not so difficult to find.

Happy Birthday To You1959

Collecting, Identifying, and Valuing First Edition Dr. Seuss Books (14)The first printing book has a printing error on page 34 (page beginning with “Today is your birthday”), with six white spots that do not appear in later printings.

Availability: ‘White spots’ books are not so difficult to find.

First Edition, First Printing

It is a complicated subject, the book collecting definition of 'first edition' being ‘first edition, first printing.’

As an example, the "conventional wisdom" first edition The Cat In The Hat, with the ‘200/200’ on the front flap, is considered the first printing, while the '200/200' was in actuality used in numerous printings.

"Huh?", you ask. Let me explain.

The Cat In The Hat was first published in March of 1957. The sales far exceeded initial expectations. The ‘200/200’ dust jacket was used on the book into early 1958, and perhaps mid-1958. The first instance I can find of the book’s price reduction to ‘195/195’ is in the October, 1958 edition of The Horn Book Magazine (pg. 325), where Random House advertises the first six Beginner Books for $1.95.

It is illogical to believe the initial printing of The Cat In The Hat in March, 1957 was sufficient to supply books for nearly a year of sales, through January or March of 1958. And especially in light of sales being higher then initially expected. Therefore the logical conclusion is there were multiple printings of the ‘200/200’ Cat In The Hat through the course of 1957.

Currently the book collecting community cannot distinguish the initial ‘200/200’ printing from each of the other ‘200/200’ printings, yet we still consider all as ‘first edition/first printing’.

The first edition ‘200/200’ Cat In The Hat routinely sells for $3000 in today’s market.

© Stan Zielinski
A serious collector having fun with fun books.


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