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Penguin Collectors Society

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Are my old Penguins valuable?

This is indeed a frequent question. The short answer is probably not. The main reason for this is that most titles were printed in very large numbers – often in editions of 30,000 to 50,000 - and it takes scarcity to create value.

Most collectors are interested in the early years. Very few Penguin paperbacks printed after 1950 have any monetary value – that is more than a new paperback would cost today. Battered reprints, while they may still make an excellent read, have very little real resale potential. Even a sought-after early title is unlikely to be worth more than a new hardback, say £20/$35. Note that, as with any book, value is added if it is a first printing and in mint condition and has, where applicable, a dust cover. The following is a selection of titles and series which may be worth more.
  • The first ten Penguins published in August 1935.
  • Mystery and Crime titles with dark green covers, published before 1946.
  • Some foreign Penguin publications.
  • Books in the Forces Book Club and Prisoners of War series.
  • Early children’s titles – some Puffin Picture Books and the elusive Cut-outs, Baby Puffin and Porpoise series.
  • Some titles relating to Art and Architecture – not all of them paperbacks.
  • Some individual titles because of their position in their author's canon, e.g. W.E. Johns' Biggles Flies Again, Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, Frederick Forsyth's The Biafra Story and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
While many old Penguins will have no significant monetary value, the books themselves are a hugely important part of British culture, and there will undoubtedly be someone, somewhere who wants what you have now benefited from. Please – hand unwanted books to any reputable charity bookshop (rather than burning them out of spite because they didn’t make you rich!).

The PCS is happy to offer advice (contact [email protected]) but it does not deal or have any connections with dealers. You may find some of the Useful links can help you.