The soul of a rare book – To Kill a Mockingbird

by Liz on March 18, 2012 · Modern Firsts

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper LeeFew tales in American literature have grasped the soul and remained an eternal presence in the mind as greatly or as deeply as Harper Lee’s immortal tale, To Kill a Mockingbird. It is no surprise that the first edition of the novel is quite a rare book which won many honorable awards and received great recognition for its heartbreaking, humorous, and vastly thought provoking material. Harper Lee skillfully weaves a vital lesson to humankind in her tale, which no individual should go through life not learning or practicing in day to day life.

     To Kill a Mockingbird portrays the childhood encounters of three young children, Scout, Jem, and Dill, and the unforgettable life lessons regarding respect, tolerance, and acceptance towards all humankind, which they learn to incorporate in their lives following tragic and traumatic circumstances. The story is set in the sultry and tired town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930’s, and exposes three powerless and mercilessly persecuted “mockingbirds” in the form of an actual bird, a painfully shy and socially awkward man known as Boo Radley, and the wrongfully judged and murdered servant, Tom Robinson.

     Today, fifty-two years after the 1960 first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird was written, it is immensely hailed and revered for its unforgettably challenging and touching material, which urges the reader to always pause and consider an individual’s life and circumstances before judging them, and to never place judgment on an individual based solely on exterior appearances or assumptions. Of the 5,000 first edition copies of To Kill a Mockingbird which were published, the few still wrapped in their original dust jacket, that have been well maintained are being sold for more than $10,000. Moreover, those first editions which have been signed by Harper Lee are being sold for an average of $25,000.

     To Kill a Mockingbird has been lavishly, yet rightfully awarded for its imperative material and crucial message. In 1961, it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird was given the Paperback of the Year Award from Bestsellers magazine. More recently, in 2007 Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of this work.

     It is interesting to note that, while To Kill a Mockingbird has been so widely loved and recognized, it is Harper Lee’s only novel. The fact that Ms. Lee’s only novel has been so well received and commended must certainly stem from its incredible and memorable content. The numerous awards do have a positive impact on sales and scarcity and contribute to the birth of a rare, modern first book.

     Whether collectors seek the tale for its extraordinary content, its immeasurable fame, or its significant worth or future value appreciation, it is a fundamental must have addition to any American literature book library. However, it is certainly fair to state that each one of these aspects concerning the tale have played equal and connecting roles in producing the favorable outcome which the first editions of the tale enjoy today. Regardless of the collectors’ objectives, To Kill a Mockingbird had a tremendous impact on the way human beings are regarded and treated today. Indeed, as To Kill a Mockingbird was written right on the brink of the Civil Rights Movement, it is certainly not a far extrapolation to state that when written, it affected and influenced the thinking of those who were alive to experience it. Despite the fact that the tale was written over half a century ago, its convicting material continues to stir the minds and hearts of those who read it today.

About the author

Partner, rare book dealer. Sekkes Consultants.

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