Are there any titles missing from the checklist?

While giving a lecture on Paul Elder in 2004, I was asked this question. It’s every bibliographer’s nightmare, of course: failing to record a title.

I am confident that the current online checklist records 99% of Elder’s output; the uncertainty concerns that last one percent. All the earliest records of the bookstore were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Many of Elder’s books are quite rare: there are several titles in my collection where—despite all my years of looking—the copy I own is the only one I’ve ever seen. That doesn’t necessarily make them valuable, just rare. There are also plenty of titles I do not own, though not for lack of searching.

There have been only three new discoveries in the last decade, although each has resulted in multiple checklist entries. Those recent additions were:

  • in 2009, I found a catalog with ten new titles in the Impression Classics series (checklist 404-413)
  • in 2010, I found a catalog that listed five new titles in the Vest Pocket Helps series (checklist 414-418)
  • in 2012, I discovered two titles in a hitherto unknown series called the Langham Library of Humour (checklist 419-20)

If you are working from one of the printed checklists, the addenda & corrigenda can be found here.

Categories FAQ

How many books did Elder publish?

The count currently stands at 413 titles (420 numbered entries, with seven deleted upon further research). Not all of them are “books” in the usual sense; there are a number of small booklets and pamphlets. I have included everything with a formal title page; all but a handful have bylines and publication dates. The count does not include magazines, catalogs or other ephemera.

Categories FAQ

How much is my Elder book worth?

I am asked this question more often than all the other questions combined.

Most Elder titles are not worth much money. They might be old, they might be beautiful, and they might be hard to find, but this does not necessarily make them valuable. What matters most is the book’s condition. Most Elder titles, even if they’re in excellent shape, sell on Ebay for $20-40. If the book still has its dust jacket, probably a bit more. If the book came in a special gift box, probably more than that. If, on the other hand, the book is in poor condition, it might not sell at all.

A few Elder titles are particularly well-known and desirable, such as:

Many titles were issued in more than one bindings, for example, paper over boards and cloth over boards. A few, such as the individual titles in the Mosaic Essays series, were issued in as many as five different bindings. Elder also issued a large amount of ephemera, much of which is now quite rare. Catalogs, particularly ones before 1912, and copies of his in-house magazine Impressions are also in demand.

Lastly, a note on terminology: to a bookseller, “good” condition is bad thing: only “poor” condition is worse. The scale from best to worst is: fine (sometimes “mint”), near fine, very good, good, fair, poor.