Rare used Christian books can be invaluable sources of information and prized collectors' items to religious and secular collectors alike. Keep in mind that just because they have an antiquated quality to them, not all old Christian tomes and Bibles are rare. Even some Bibles that're over 200 years old aren't considered particularly rare or valuable. However, beyond the Bible, there's a ton of cool and rare Christian books to add to your collection.
Rare Used Christian Books: Topics and Themes
Although Christian novels and contemporary Christian books color the Christian book marketplace today, in the past, those books dubbed Christian were largely works of theology and non-fiction. Many of the world's greatest literary figures used Christianity as major themes in their works, though these are usually categorized in literary genres and periods rather than just as Christian books. The Medieval cycle dramas, for example, focus entirely on the passion of Christ, and much of Medieval women's literature (such as the writings of Christine de Pizan and Julian of Norwich) also focus on Christianity.
Rare and used Christian books are available in a wide number of faiths and denominations and cover many different topics related to Christianity. Whether for reference, knowledge, or collecting, rare out-of-print Christian books may be sought out. Many older Christian texts are simply no longer published due to changing cultural contexts, but many are still available in rare book stores. If you're looking for information rather than to own or purchase a book for a collection, an excellent resource is The Evangelical Christian Library. This wonderful site offers a variety of Christian books with their full text online. Any of the books on the site can be read and downloaded for free, provided they're only used for personal or scholastic purposes.
Variable Costs and Values of Rare Christian Books
As with most rare books, the price and value of rare used Christian books will vary depending on a number of factors, including:
- Age of the book and date it was originally published
- Condition of the book; whether it has any damage or is in near pristine condition
- Circulation; how many copies of the book may be available
- Whether the book is out of print
- Who the author of book is
- Any signatures or dedications in the book
- Binding, typesetting, and layout
- Whether the book is a specific copy, such as a first edition or anniversary edition
- A renowned or famous previous owner
- How popular the book is and how many people want it
How Much Do These Books Typically Cost?
These religious tomes, from 20th century testimonies to 15th century treatises, have a wide range of values. One of the predominate factors in determining these books' worths is their age; simply, the older these texts are, the more valuable they're going to be. This is especially true of texts that were created before mass marketing and publication, as there were far fewer printed and they were less likely to survive into the millennium. That being said, most of these books sell for around $100-$200, though on rare occasions with these 15th and 16th century texts, you'll see editions listed in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars range.
Here are a few of these books that've recently come to auction to give you an idea of their variable price ranges:
- 1888 1st edition copy of The Great Controversy Between Christ And Satan During The Christian Dispensation by Mrs. E. G. White - Listed for $220
- 1648 copy of the King James Bible - Sold for $408.98
- 1491 1st edition copy of The Schatzbehalter by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff - Listed for $258,500
Where to Find These Religious Texts
Although auction sites, live auctions, and estate sales can be beneficial sources for finding rare used Christian books, more often than not it's the luck of the draw. Specialized rare Christian book retailers may be more helpful resources when searching for rare books. The following resources specialize or have categories of rare and used Christian books and are great places to start looking for these texts to begin your library:
- Rare Christian Books - Rare Christian Books carries out of print books but also reprints books that have been out of circulation for a while.
- Peter Reynolds Books - Peter Reynolds Books has thousands of used books, some of which are over 100 years old.
- Biblio.com - Biblio allows you to search for rare and out of print books by title, author, and other specifications.
- Powell's - Powell's is a comprehensive site that specializes in rare and out-of-print used books. Its section on Christian books includes a top ten list and reader recommendations.
Taking Care of Your Rare Books
It's important to keep books out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources to keep them in good condition. Keeping them on a bookcase, preferably behind glass, will ensure that they last for a long time. If the book is very rare or very old, it's a good idea to wear gloves when handling it to keep natural body oils off the papers.
Where Religion and the Arts Intersect
Whether you're looking for information, enjoy the decorative covers, or love the detailed illustrations many old books contain, collecting rare Christian books is a satisfying and informative hobby to have. With a range of prices and topics, you're sure to find the right books to add to your collection in no time at all.