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 at least 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.

Recently the rate of new discoveries has slowed to one every couple of years, although in 2009 I found a catalog with twelve new titles in the Impression Classics series. So I am reluctant to guess how many titles I have yet to find.

A list of checklist 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 put together.

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 about $20. If the book still has its dust jacket, perhaps a bit more. If the book came in a special gift box, perhaps a bit 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:

Some titles were issued in multiple editions, e.g. in an “ordinary” trade edition and a much fancier limited edition. 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.