Do you have a fortune sitting on your book shelves?

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.

10 PHOTOS
Products made from waste
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Products made from waste
Hipcycle is dedicated to turning odd waste into cool products for your home. This was once a bulldozer sprocket, but after reaching the end of its useful bulldozing life, it has been fashioned into a wine rack. It's not cheap - at $260 - but who else do you know who will have one?
These incredible chandeliers have been fashioned from bike parts - using an old wheel and used bike chains. They are all individually designed and sold as works of art, so they'll set you back $1650. It's an impressive sum of cash - but then again it's a pretty impressive-looking light too.
This tote bag is actually woven from old crisp packets. The manufacturer, Terracycle, has partnered with Frito-Lay in the US (who own Walkers). They arrange for people to send their old crisp packets into the company, where they fashion bags from the waste. The fact that this bag is silver is purely because the packets are inside out.
John Birdsong runs Recycled State in Florida, where he makes quirky things from recycled wood. One highlight of the range is the decorative shark made from old fences, and scrap plastic. He sells through etsy in the UK, and charges £17.81 per shark.
Who knew an old skateboard could have a new lease of life as a pair of earrings? Secondshot has a range of earrings made from old skateboards which they sell through etsy. These ones cost £6.99, and ship from California.
StudioORX makes steam punk lamps out of odds and ends. The studio in Tel Aviv has fashioned them from roller skates and irons, and has a selection of vintage pepper grinders turned into lamps too. This one costs around £64 from its etsy shop, and ships from Israel.
This summer, Coca-cola started a project called second lives. It involves a range of bottle top designs which turn used coke bottles into everything from water pistols and paint dispensers, to pencil sharpeners, bubble mixture holders, and water sprayers. It has given out thousands of packs of the tops in Vietnam and is rolling the project across Asia
The Geoartcrafts studio in Athens fashions clocks from vinyl records. You can take your pick from cityscapes of London, Tokyo or Chicago, and choose your hands - for £17.82. Sadly you can't pick the album
After diligent service as part of an upmarket antique silver cutlery set, this fork has been given a second life as a piece of jewellery. The Fork Whisperer makes a huge range of these in Michigan in the US, and sells to the UK through its etsy shop. The price depends on the complexity of the piece, but this one will cost you £19.08.
Rough South Home is the work of designer Clarke Titus in Atlanta. His items are all custom-made, and the pallet chair is his iconic offering. It's fashioned from an old wooden pallet, and is hand-made to order - which is why it'll take about six weeks for delivery, and cost $325.
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