Collected Books: The Guide to Identification and Values by Patricia and Allen AhearnAllen and Patricia Ahearn are well known in the North American rare book business. Aside from being the owners of Quill & Brush, a rare bookselling business in Dickerson, Maryland, they are also the authors of Collected Books: The Guide to Identification and Values.

The fourth edition of this reference book has just been issued by the Ahearns, who began as collectors in their twenties, then issued catalogs in the 1960s and opened Quill & Brush (which specializes in 19th century to modern day literature including mysteries and poetry) in 1976. It has previously been published in 1991, 1998 and 2002, and the book has become one of the most treasured reference tools for collectors, librarians and booksellers during this time.

Collected Books picked up where Van Allen Bradley’s Handbook of Values series left off by helping people to value collectible books.

Revised and updated, the majority of the book features a massive alphabetical list (by author) of first editions stating the year and location of publication and key information relating to identification suchas print run or number of volumes. The all-important value is also listed, according to a series of strict criteria regarding condition for five distinct eras (before 1800, 1800-1849, 1850-1924, 1925-1949 and post-1950). The estimated value of 20,000 collectible books published in English can discovered in Collected Books.

The Ahearns gather their information through a variety of sources. “Practically all rare book dealers send their catalogs to us,” said Allen Ahearn. “We also look at the Internet and auction data, and if we are stuck we pick up the phone and speak to a seller who has specialist knowledge. We’ve also received help from collectors too.

 “I guess that the majority of book dealers in the United States own a copy, perhaps 60 to 70 per cent of collectors have one and most libraries too.”
The Ahearns’ book also includes sections on collecting books (such as what to collect), how to find rare books, how to research rare books, key considerations for buying and selling, and how to care for a collection.

Collected Books has been praised by the likes of Nick Basbanes, author of A Gentle Madness, and Larry McMurtry, the bookseller and author, and this revised edition is expected to help yet another generation of bibliophiles. The acknowledgement section of 2011 edition is a veritable who’s who of key people in the rare bookselling trade and includes many booksellers who can be found on AbeBooks.

AbeBooks is giving away one signed copy of the 2011 edition Collected Books by Allen & Patricia Ahearn.

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