Encyclopedia Collections

I have two encyclopedia collections and I'm wondering if they are worth anything. The first one has 18 volumes and is the Illustrated Home Library Encyclopedia, copyright 1957. The other one is a Encyclopedia Britannica collection 24 volumes, 1768. There's a few other books there as well.

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March 11, 20180 found this helpful

People get information from the internet now. These books are less than 100 years old and worth very little.

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March 11, 20180 found this helpful

Most sets of encyclopedias are not in high demand and usually very difficult to sell (very slow sellers) and most sets are even difficult to donate to thrift stores because they take up a lot of space and may never sell of may sell for $5-$10.

  • That statement is very general as there are some sets that do sell but they are usually very rare sets or newly published sets in excellent condition.
  • eBay and Amazon are the sites to check when trying to find a value but asking prices on these sites do not mean they will ever sell or does not tell you how long sellers have been trying to sell that particular set. Sellers leave these books listed for months and months or even years (really true) and the set may never sell.
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  • Your set of Illustrated Home Library Encyclopedia, copyright 1957 is one example.
  • There was not a lot of differences in the different published years as no real changes were made which means you can check the "value" as being about the same for any year.
  • The big difference that I see in any sets is the number of volumes stated (even in the 1957 sets) so there must be some additional books available.
  • Here is what is presently listed on eBay (with asking prices). You will notice that some sellers are trying to sell individual volumes instead of as a set. A full set of encyclopedias is very difficult to pack and expensive to ship so you will see some listings with shipping separate and some with shipping free (makes a big difference in profit to the seller).
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  • www.ebay.com/.../i.html?_odkw=Illustrated+Home+Library...
  • Here is one set with asking price but it looks almost brand new and several volumes.
  • www.ebay.com/.../111843100724?_trkparms=aid%3D222007...
  • Here is a list of recently sold sets/books but there is no way to tell how long they were listed for sale.
  • www.ebay.com/.../291803068635?hash=item43f0d178db...
  • Bottom line: Your set could be valued at $25-$65 but there is no way to determine how long it would take to sell even at the lowest price.
  • Your local Craigslist is a good way to try and sell sets like this as there is no shipping involved and someone can actually see the set before buying.
  • As always, be very careful who you invite into your home as safely is a first priority.
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March 11, 20180 found this helpful

Your Encyclopedia Britannica 24 volumes, 1768 set needs the publishing date to help determine value. There should be another date as the 1768 is the beginning and all versions were from that date. You can ask another question about this set and give the second date and we may be able to give a more detailed answer.


  • Here are some set currently listed on eBay which have the second (publishing) date. You may see a similar set to yours listed. Always keep in mind these are asking prices and may never sell at these prices.
  • www.ebay.com/.../i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p4840...
  • Without the publishing date we are just looking at "sets" but here are some sets that have sold in the past several months and prices paid.
  • These may give you some idea of the value but no where will you find any information as to how long a set was listed before it sold.
  • www.ebay.com/.../i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&...
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March 13, 20180 found this helpful

It is so sad to know that books are worthless because they are over 100 years old. But in this case that is what has happened. Your books won't bring much of a resale value to you.


You might receive a total of $30 for both sets. People just don't want them or they don't want to buy them and store them. All the information that is contained in these books can easily be found online today.

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