Quick Tips for Collecting Antique Christmas Books:
- Many of the most collectible Christmas books date from the 1870s through the early 1900s.
- The Night Before Christmas is a standing favorite of Christmas collectors and book lovers, especially those illustrated by McLoughlin Bros. dating back to the late 1800s.
- While Santa takes center stage in many valuable books, those featuring Christmas carols and other familiar holiday tales also hold value.
- To avoid buying a reprint of a Christmas book as an original, try to deal with reputable dealers and always look for signs of age and wear that will be found on most antique Christmas titles.
My Merry Little Christmas Books
For years I've collected small books related to Christmas. These were just cute little paper goods I'd pick up at run-of-the-mill bookstores and gift shops. But over time they amounted to a collection just the same.
I put them away every year after the holidays pass and take them out again right after Thanksgiving just like all our other holiday decorations. Like old friends, I enjoy reuniting with them each holiday season.
Some of these quaint books were actually neat little gifts from friends with handwritten inscriptions written inside the cover, which make them even more special. Those are my very favorites.
But do I read these colorful little books? You bet! I seem to subconsciously rotate them each holiday season. This year I've read, Joy to the World to refresh my memory on Victorian Christmas customs and Christmas in Texas just because it sounded interesting about now.
Discovering Antique Christmas Books
I have to admit that for a long time it never dawned on me to search for older Christmas books, which seems a little ridiculous when I think about it. After all, my life seems to rotate around selling, thinking, writing and talking about vintage this and vintage that almost constantly these days.
I guess it was just easier to focus on the newer titles Ã¢ÂÂ¦ until one fateful day.
All it takes is one acquisition to get you started down the primrose path, however. And any of you who collect and collect until you barely have room to sit know what I'm talking about.
The purchase I'm speaking of actually happened in the most unlikely of places. While browsing through tables and tables of collectible jewelry during a collectorÃ¢ÂÂs convention, I noticed a small book decked with boughs of holly and an art nouveau face peeking through a golden star. The title was Hark the Herald Angels Sing!
Since it caught my eye, of course, I had to pick it up for a closer look. When I opened the cover and read the inscription, Ã¢ÂÂTo Lillie from Laura, December 25, 1912,Ã¢ÂÂ I knew it would be mine.
You see, this book is from the same era as the beloved postcards I adore so much and decorated in the same style. Even the hand written message, just as I've seen on thousands of cards, was carefully crafted with pen and ink in fancy script.
Searching for Antique Christmas Books
Looking around on the Internet, I haven't been able to locate a large selection of older books with Christmas themes. IÃ¢ÂÂm guessing that most books filled with holiday tales were either read repeatedly in days before radio and television, or were decorated to appeal to children as playthings. Either way they were discarded in tatters long ago.
Many older Christmas books that make it on the market today reflect images of Santa Claus in all his glory, with those illustrated by McLoughlin Bros being avidly sought by collectors. In fact, these almost always sell for more than $100. A copy of The Night Before Christmas in excellent condition dating to the late 1800s can sell for several hundred, in fact.
Books featuring Santa Claus by other publishers can be found more affordably, and the newer they are the less theyÃ¢ÂÂll be worth. Nevertheless, even the Christmas themed books from the 1930s and Ã¢ÂÂ40s are good finds as well.
Holiday Book Price Points
- The Night Before Christmas, McLoughlin Bros., ca. 1880s - $208.50
- Kris Kringle, McLoughlin Bros., ca. 1900 - $202.50
- Kris Kringle on a Wheel, ca. 1897 - $124.50
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, with original dust jacket illustrated by Everett Shinn, ca. 1938 - $76
- Santa Claus Book, Charles E. Graham & Co., ca. early 1900s - $57.51
- The Christmas Fairy by Johnaton Strange Winter, ca. 1900 - $43.50
- The Robin's Christmas Eve, McLoughlin Bros., ca. 1889 - $24.50