Philip Pullman

Ever since the advent of Harry Potter in 1997 ‘young adult’ fantasy has been highly prized in the rare and collectable book market.  While J K Rowling is definitely the highest profile children’s author at the moment, Philip Pullman has quietly built up a following and his books are sought after auction favourites.  Pullman was hugely influenced by the colourful stories of the Batman and Superman comics of the 1950s.

Philip Pullman’s first book, The Haunted Storm, was published in 1971, but copies of this are now almost impossible to find.  If you can find one, expect to pay upwards of £200 for the hardback, and even the 1973 paperback version would fetch around £75.  Pullman’s second novel, Galatea, which was his first attempt at the fantasy genre was published in 1978 by Gollancz in the UK and Dutton in the US.  If you can find one in good condition it would set you back about £150.

Among Pullman’s popular, ongoing works are his Sally Lockhart series, two of which have already been filmed by the BBC.  The books are set in Victorian London featuring a young woman, Sally Lockart, as the heroine.  The themes and narratives of these novels follow the old fashioned ‘penny dreadfuls’ and are great fun to read.

First in the series is The Ruby in the Smoke, published in 1985 by Oxford University Press, followed by The Shadow in the North (OUP, 1986), The Tiger in the Well (Viking, 1991) and The Tin Princess (Puffin/OUP, 1994).  The first two titles are extremely collectable and would probably cost you upwards of £500.

There are some interesting anomalies for collectors in the Sally Lockhart series.  The true first edition of The Tiger in the Well is the American one, published by Knopf in 1990, but as the first edition from the author’s home country is usually much sought after, the US edition is worth about £100, while the UK edition would go for around £250.  The last in the series, The Tin Princess only had a paperback release in the UK and a first edition would cost you around £20, while the hardback US edition (Knopf, 1994) would fetch around £250 at auction.

In 1995 Northern Lights was released by Scholastic.  This was Pullman’s first instalment of the trilogy His Dark Materials.  If you are collecting first editions you should check out that on Northern Lights the dust-jacket has their address of 7-9 Platt Street on the inside of the rear dust-jacket flap and ‘Point’ to it’s lower spine.  If you own a true first edition in mint condition, it is worth upwards of £3,000 and even a slightly grubby version would still fetch around £1,000 or more.

As Pullman became more popular, first editions of the next title in the series The Subtle Knife (1997) became worth £1,000 or more.  By the time the third title in the series The Amber Spyglass was published Pullman was so popular that the first print run was large enough to make first editions commonplace and they would only fetch between £50- £80 in good condition.  A set of first editions would fetch upwards of £5,000 at auction and they don’t come up often.

Now that the first movie has been released it will be interesting to see if the prices soar.  The movies will keep the name of Philip Pullman in the public eye and his works will be highly collectable.

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