Finding the Value of Compton's Encyclopedias?

Category Books
Old printed reference books can be difficult to determine their worth. This page is about finding the value of Compton's encyclopedias.
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March 23, 2020

How much is a set of 1961 Compton's picture encyclopedias worth? I found a set at my mother-in-law's house and don't know if we should sell it or trash it?

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March 25, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

Is this your set:

www.ebay.com/.../313017072935?hash=item48e1457d27...

If so, it sold on eBay recently for best offer of 90.00 plus shipping.
My source for what the best offer was, tells me they took $50 for it. It is a website I use...I don't know the seller or any one associated with the auction.

Many people mistakenly think ALL encyclopedias have no value OR have a value if they are over 100 years old, but this is not a tried and true rule. There are thousands of types of encyclopedia out there and many do still have a value--but not for what you think!

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Yes, there are collectors who still want paper, but most of the sales (in my experience) are for artists and crafts people. They want them for paper collage art OR for using the really pretty covers and books for things like turning them into lamps, coffee tables and other cool things.

What you will fetch (dollar amount) for them is based on a number of factors:
--if they have any smells that can really devalue them.
--if the spine is intact or not
--if the pages are tanned/yellowed or not
--if there are pages missing or torn
--if there are pages stuck together
--if you have all of the volumes
--if the covers are clean

Depending on what the potential buyer wants for them, they may ask a lot of questions. I try to be proactive and answer all the questions in my listings, but I do find people don't read, so I answer questions when I get them!

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Post back how your sale goes!

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March 19, 2020

I have a set of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedias, copyright 1939 in very good condition. Are they worth anything?

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March 20, 20200 found this helpful
Best Answer

Is there a photo of them that you can post--front cover, spine, and inside page with all of the details?

I can't offer any specific guidance without seeing exactly what you have. There are too many variables and this isn't enough info to help give you a value on them. Also where are you located and how did you plan on trying to sell them?

Values are regional so that can help me point you in more specific directions.

I can offer some general guidance from being a long time reseller.

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Age has very little to do with a books sell-ability. It is all about supply and demand, condition, and marketing.

The age factor--There are very old things that have a huge value because there is a huge demand for them and a low supply. There are very old things that have no value and no demand, and there are lots of places in between. Without knowing what you have, I can't place you in the right category.

Condition is critical. You say your books are in very good condition, but that tells me nothing, as condition is subjective. My very good could be a rare book collector's poor. I am not saying this to be disrespectful, but to help you understand the best thing to do when you figure out how to sell them. Early in my career I was burned by using terms--so I learned this strategy...I don't tell them condition, I tell them what I see...which would be answering some of these questions....and letting them decide:

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--are there any places where the pages are tanned or totally brown?
--are the spines intact or starting to crack?
--are there any bent corners or torn or missing pages?
--is there any smell to the books?
--are there any stains on the covers?
--do you have every book in the series or is one missing and which one?
--how has the book been stored...was it in a basement or garage, or in a clean, dry bookcase in the living areas of the house?
--is there any fading to the covers?

Even one of these factors can turn very good into fair quickly so you solve that by just giving a good description for the potential buyer.

Marketing old books, especially those with interesting photos often have some value because artists like to craft with them. If you are not familiar with the term Junk Journaling, check it out. This may be where you market your books.

I have found in some cases tearing the books apart and grouping like pages together will sell the pieces much faster and for much more than trying to sell them as whole.

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You can explore this by looking at the values that paper ephemera is going for on eBay (look at sold prices) and on Etsy (can't look at sold, but you can see what people are asking which tells you what SELLERS think they are worth...not necessarily the actual value--but it is a starting point).

My last piece of general guidance is now is not the time to try selling anything. My eBay sales have been flat for a month with the COVID-19 situation. People are holding on to their money and don't want packages coming in from somewhere else.

This is the time to gather info and then hold until the world settles.

Post back with more info and I can see if I can help you with the value as a whole! Thanks!

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October 8, 2015

How much is my Compton's Encyclopedia 1989, 26 Vol. set worth? And if I want to sell them where can I go to do this?

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October 8, 20150 found this helpful

Many people have old books they think are valuable and would like to sell. Most old dictionaries, references etc., have very little value-a few dollars at most. Encyclopedias dated after 1923 are essentially worthless but crafters may be interested for the old pictures. Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc., receive donations of tons of old encyclopedias but send them to recycling centers or dumps as they cannot use or sell them.

You can check online for old book collectors, on EBay, Craigslist and other retail sites for possibilities. Everything is now online and updated constantly so old books are just that-old.

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September 25, 20170 found this helpful

1989 isn't considered old. Unfortunately it's just used.

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February 22, 2015

I have a partial set of 1944 Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia. It is missing volume 12 of 15. What are they worth?

By R Sheriff

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February 22, 20150 found this helpful

Many people have old books they think are valuable and would like to sell. Most old dictionaries, references etc., have very little value-a few dollars at most. Encyclopedias dated after 1923 are essentially worthless but crafters may be interested for the old pictures. Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc., receive donations of tons of old encyclopedias and send them to recycling centers or dumps as they cannot use or sell them.

You can check online for old book collectors, on EBay, Craigslist and other retail sites for possibilities. Everything is now online and updated constantly so old books are just that-old.

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July 27, 20150 found this helpful

Are you still searching for number 12 from the 1944 edition? If so, if I just got it tonight.

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July 28, 2017

I would like to know the value of complete set (26) in excellent condition.

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July 29, 20170 found this helpful

Many people have old books they think are valuable and would like to sell. Most old dictionaries, references etc., have very little value, a few dollars at most. Encyclopedias dated after 1923 are essentially worthless but crafters may be interested for the old pictures. Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc., receive donations of tons of old encyclopedias, dictionaries and reference books but send them to recycling centers or dumps as they cannot use or sell them.
You can check online for old book collectors, on EBay, Craigs List and other retail sites for possibilities. Everything is now online and updated constantly so old books are just that-old.

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July 29, 20170 found this helpful

Unfortunately, these sets are not very valuable and if sold on-line (eBay) they are very difficult to pack and ship and shipping is expensive. Occasionally you will see where a new seller (eBay is used most often) will be asking several hundred dollars for a set because they have not done any research and have the mistaken idea that sets are worth a lot of money. In fact, many sellers will have books listed for months and months and even years and may never sell them.
If you are looking to sell your set, I would recommend listing them on your local auction site (Craigslist & your zip) as someone can see the set and no shipping involved which reduces the price considerably. Maybe start your price at $100.00 and reduce it if no one calls.

Here are a couple of links to sets (not necessarily your year) presently listed on eBay and the second link shows books that sold and price paid.

www.ebay.com/.../i.html?_odkw=1957+Compton%27s+Pictured...

www.ebay.com/.../i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&_nkw=1957...

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July 29, 20170 found this helpful

Encyclopedias, unless antique, have very little value.

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October 15, 2014

I have a set of ten 1929 F.E. Compton's Encyclopedias. I would like to find out about the value of them.

By Brenda

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November 16, 20170 found this helpful

Brenda, I had a set that was stolen while in storage and would be interested in negotiating a fair price.

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July 16, 2017

I have a set of 1922 copyright Compton's Pictured Encyclopedias. It includes a half price certificate for ordering updated books. I have all 12 volumes. It is worth anything?

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July 17, 20170 found this helpful

I think it is worth something because it is almost 100 years old and is complete. Go to some dealers who specialize in old books and get estimates.

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August 4, 20170 found this helpful

As said previously these are old and complete set You could be looking at a good amount on these. I would call an antique store in your area and get some numbers and/or names of old and rare book buyers. Antiques aren't as popular as they were about fifteen years ago in my area. What this means is that you may have to do some googling and calling before you find someone interested.

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January 3, 2016

What is value of a 15 volume set of 1946 Compton Pictured Encyclopedia, in excellent condition?

Answers

January 3, 20160 found this helpful

Many people have old books they think are valuable and would like to sell. Most old dictionaries, references etc., have very little value, a few dollars at most. Encyclopedias dated after 1923 are essentially worthless but crafters may be interested for the old pictures. Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc., receive donations of tons of old encyclopedias but send them to recycling centers or dumps as they cannot use or sell them.

You can check online for old book collectors, on EBay, Craigs List and other retail sites for possibilities. Everything is now online and updated constantly so old books are just that-old.

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September 25, 20160 found this helpful

$10 at flea market

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January 4, 2015

I am interested in pricing information for a complete 15 volume set of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia 1955?

By Kristy

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January 4, 20150 found this helpful

$50 in good condition.

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January 4, 20150 found this helpful

Seems almost everyone has old books and want to sell. Most old dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc., have very little value-a few dollars at most. You can check online for old book collectors, on Craigslist and other retail sites for possibilities. Everything is now online and updated constantly.

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June 30, 2019

I am trying to find the value of a 1960 edition, like new, Compton's Picture Encyclopedia complete set plus 3 year book.

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April 13, 2015

How much is the Compton's pictured encyclopedia set from 1931 worth?

By Wendy

Answers

April 13, 20150 found this helpful

Many people have old books they think are valuable and would like to sell. Most old dictionaries, references etc., have very little value-a few dollars at most. Encyclopedias dated after 1923 are essentially worthless but crafters may be interested for the old pictures. Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc., receive donations of tons of old encyclopedias but send them to recycling centers or dumps as they cannot use or sell them.

You can check online for old book collectors, on EBay, Craigslist and other retail sites for possibilities. Everything is now online and updated constantly so old books are just that-old.

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November 29, 2014

I have a set of Compton encyclopedias from 1991. Are they worth anything?

By mscolas

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October 28, 2014

I have the 1947 Compton Picture Encyclopedia, full set in pristine condition. What is the value? Note: includes index book.

By Paula D

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August 27, 2014

I have a complete set of Compton's Pictured Encyclopedias 1937 edition. Can you tell me if it has any value? They are in excellent shape.

By Bob

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June 14, 2014

It's in excellent condition and has 26 books, do I even have the whole set?

By C. Viera from Coamo, PR

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April 13, 2014

What is the value for volumes in "pristine" condition? It is missing I, J, K, and L, but otherwise I have the balance of the set.

By Roxanne C.

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