It’s fair to say that the UK is home to a nation of hoarders. Around 50 percent of Brits confess they struggle with decluttering due to sentimental attachment to items, while 26 percent of homeowners are clueless about what is in their attic, according to home insurance specialist Homeprotect.
But among your piles of stuff could be hidden treasures worth a lot of money and old books are no exception. Early and special editions of classic novels are often passed down as heirlooms, beloved childhood memories or prized possessions - and over the years they can gain incredible value.
With that in mind, Homeprotect conducted a study to identify the most valuable first-edition listings of classic children’s books that, if sold, could earn you extra money amid the cost-of-living crisis. Taking the top spot as the biggest literary hidden treasure is Jane Austen’s beloved young adult classic Pride and Prejudice, with some first edition copies listed for £139,356.
Originally published in 1813, early editions of the story sold for 18 shillings, equating to roughly £52 in today’s money and a value increase of 267,892 percent. Austen’s classic love story is her most popular, having sold 20 million copies globally since it was first published, equating to over two-thirds of her total book sales.
Just under £100,000 behind Pride and Prejudice is the classic adventure novel Robinson Crusoe by 18th-century writer Daniel Defoe. Considered ‘the first English novel,’ it was published in 1719 at an estimated price of five shillings ( £36.89 in 2023) - a 106,219 percent price increase over 200 years.
David Joyson, chief customer officer at Homeprotect, said:“It’s amazing to see how much the value of these novels has increased, and during tough financial times, it may inspire a lot of us to dig through our garages, attics, and storage units for hidden treasures that may be worth far more than expected.
“First edition books are a highly collectable and often overlooked and underestimated item of value, so before you give away or donate your old children’s books, do your research to ensure you aren’t throwing away a small fortune.
Top 10 old books that could be worth a lot of money
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (first edition published in 1813) - average listing price: £139,356
Robinson Cruesoe by Daniel Defoe (first edition published in 1719) - average listing price: £39,221
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien (first edition published in 1937) - average listing price: £27,175
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (first edition published in 1865) - average listing price: £20,381
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (first edition published in 1843) - average listing price: £16,735
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (first edition published in 1922) - average listing price: £16,953
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (first edition published in 1930) - average listing price: 15,133
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (first edition published in 1947) - average listing price: £13,353
Twenty Thousands League Under the Sea by Jules Verne (first edition published in 1870) - average listing price: £12,363
Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm (first edition published in 1812) - average listing price: £10,008
Joyson added: “If you have any of these valuable items lying around your home, or if you come across an item you think may have a high value, get them professionally valued, so you know if they are worth insuring and to avoid underinsuring. Rare or antique books may be covered by your contents insurance, but it’s always worth checking the specific policy terms with your insurer and to confirm that you have an adequate amount of contents cover.”