Do you have a fortune sitting on your book shelves?

One in three sell old books to make money - could yours be worth thousands?

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Sotheby's First Editions, Second Thoughts sale

Over seven million Brits say their finances are in the worst state they've ever been in, and one in four are turning to alternative methods to make extra cash - by flogging off the clutter lying around their house Almost a third of sellers choose to sell old books from their collection, and while plenty are making a decent sum of cash from clearing the shelves, there are some fortunes to be made.

See also: Are you paying too much to sell your stuff online?

See also: Why did Harry Potter book sell for £43,750?


The figures, from comparethemarket.com, also revealed that two in five people expect things to get even worse - because their bills are continuing to rise. It has released an uncertainty calculator which shows just how bad things could get over the next 12 months - the average person is expected to miss out on over £818 during the next year.

One in four people are clearing out old clutter and collections to help close the gap. Some 13% are selling stamp collections, 16% are parting with antiques, 22% are selling vintage toys, 25% flogging old coins, and 29% are selling old books.

Valuable books

Before you head down to the car boot sale with a box of old books, however, it's worth checking whether you have one that could be worth a fortune.

We reveal five to watch for - that were published in the 20th century and could be on anyone's shelves. In each case the price is for a first edition in great condition with a pristine dust jacket:

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
This is the most valuable 20th century first edition, so if you happen to have one of these kicking about, it's worth a jaw-dropping £247,000.

2. The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien
If you have one of these, you'll have benefited from the popularity of the films, which pushed the value of a first edition up to an incredible £64,000.

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
First editions of the first book from 1997 are very rare, so could be worth up to £44,000. The most valuable print run can be recognised by the fact it has the numbering of 10 to 1 on the back page - known as the verso - and the back cover features a typo. The second 'o' is missing from the word 'Philosopher's'.

4. Casino Royale, by Ian Fleming
You'll have had to have left this 1963 book somewhere very safe for it to be in mint condition, but if you managed, then the success of the film and the remake have pushed the value to £24,000

5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
First editions from 1998 can fetch up to £7,000. They're not as valuable as others on this list - but there's a much bigger chance of you have one gathering dust in the house.

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