Irish writer Abraham "Bram" Stoker (1847-1912) authored Dracula, perhaps the most famous horror novel ever published. Stoker's Dracula entered the literary market in 1897, with first editions – both British and American – commanding big bucks from book and horror collectors today.
Bram Stoker & the Dracula Cult
Dracula was not Bram Stoker's first published novel. That honor goes to The Primrose Path, published in Ireland in 1875 and serialized in The Shamrock magazine. The principal character is Jerry O'Sullivan, an Irish theatrical carpenter who succumbs to the evils of demon rum. The Primrose Path was followed by The Snake's Pass (1890), The Watter's Mou (1895) and The Shoulder of Shasta (1897).
In 1897, Archibald Constable and Company of the United Kingdom published Dracula, Bram Stoker's classic tale of Count Dracula, a vampire from Transylvania and his attempt to relocate to England. The familiar characters of horror lore are all here, including English solicitor Jonathan Harker, Dr. John Seward, the crazed, insect-eating R.M. Renfield, Harker's fiancée Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, Lucy Westenra and the canny Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Dracula was not an instant success, but did garner some excellent reviews, including one in the London Daily Mail (6/1/97), whose critic compared the book favorably to such horror tales as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. Dracula would not hit its stride as a popular literary property until the various Dracula Hollywood movies entered the fray, beginning with Universal Pictures' horror classic Dracula (1931) starring the incomparable Bela Lugosi.
Bram Stoker's Dracula: British First Edition Values
Bram Stoker's 390-page Dracula was published in Westminster/London by Archibald Constable and Company in 1897. A true first issue/first edition bears the familiar red and yellow cloth cover and is printed on thicker uncoated paper "with the verso of the last integral leaf (2C4) blank with no ad for The Shoulder of Shasta and no inserted publisher¹s catalog at the end," according to Heritage Auctions of Dallas, Texas.
Dracula first editions command premium prices, with condition playing a major factor. A first issue/first edition such as the one described above in good condition brought a top bid of $6,572.50 at auction. Similarly, a second issue/first edition in good/fair condition – this one whose last page bears the advertisement for Bram Stoker's other 1897 novel The Shoulder of Shasta – sold at auction for $3,585.
Autographed Dracula first editions are considered the Holy Grail in the field. One Dracula first issue/first edition in good condition signed and inscribed by the author to his brother – "Thornly Stoker from Bram 29.5.97" – fetched a staggering $33,460 at auction.
Dracula British first issue/first edition book 1897 $6,572.50
Bram Stoker's Dracula: American First Edition Values
Doubleday & McClure Co. of New York published the American first edition of Dracula in 1899. Numbering 378 pages, this edition features a blue and brown cloth cover. Although not as valuable as the British first editions, the Dracula American first edition generally sells in the $1,500-3,000 range depending on condition.
A signed Dracula American first edition showed up on the History Channel's Pawn Stars, with its owner hoping to get $15,000 for his prized book. An expert was brought in, with the man authenticating the Bram Stoker signature and placing a value on the rough condition book of $3,000-4000. Following a round of negotiations, Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison purchased the book for $2,350. Had the owner put his signed book up for sale at one of the major auction houses, he undoubtedly would have gotten more. But given the usual 20% or so commission charged at such venues he made out fairly well at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Dracula American first edition book 1899 $1,500-3,000
Bram Stoker's Dracula: Other Valuable Editions
Although the Dracula British and American first editions often command the limelight, other later Dracula book editions also have value. They include the following, with auction result duly noted:
- Dracula, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, early 20th century edition very good in dust jacket $119.50
- Dracula, The Modern Library, 1932, fine copy in dust jacket $448.13
- Dracula, Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing Company, Inc., early 20th century edition in very good condition $59.75
- Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories, London: George Routlege & Sons, 1914 (published posthumously) first edition in very good condition with dust jacket $4,780
Dracula The Modern Library edition book 1932 $448.13
"There are far worse things awaiting man than death." - Count Dracula
Bram Stoker's Dracula Credits
- All auction results and images courtesy Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas
- Top image: Bela Lugosi as Dracula (1931) - Universal Pictures
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.