Variety Is the Spice of Vinyl (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Records are a great entertainment value. Most of Half Price Books used LPs are priced between $3 and $8, and we have thousands at $1-2 clearance prices. We also have great prices on our new vinyl.

But enough about great prices. Let’s talk variety: The wonders and oddities in every genre that a music-lover like me can find in a record bin are endlessly alluring. From R&B to C&W, from techno to disco, from doo-wop to bop, there’s a great world of music to be discovered and uncovered on vinyl, and all in endlessly fascinating packaging.

My vinyl playground is the Dallas Flagship store, and here’s a potpourri of records that recently captured my attention there. They’re all above our average LP price, but they’re all above-average records.

Prince

Prince – Fury
2006, Universal Records MCST 40462 (UK) picture disc
As we approach the anniversary of his untimely death, let’s start with the consummate genre transcender, Prince, who bridged R&B, pop, rock, funk, soul, dance and psychedelia to become one of the most influential (and enjoyable) artists in popular music history. “Fury” is a cut from Prince’s 3121 album, his comeback to the top ten of Billboard’s Albums chart.
Near Mint—$30

HomerJethro

Homer and Jethro Fracture Frank Loesser
1953, RCA Victor LPM 3112, 10”
You may well expect the show-tunes of Broadway songwriter Frank Loesser to be uncomfortable on the playlist of a comedy-bluegrass duo. Loesser himself wrote in the liner notes, “They have shot at my eight little targets with great humor and characteristic skill. I guess the joke’s on me but I love it.” This unlikely mash-up doesn’t disappoint. Homer & Jethro do their thing on “Once in Love with Amy,” “On a Slow Boat to China” and other Broadway classics. The songs seem quite at home in the novel setting.
The record and cover (and the music) have held up very well over the past 64 years—$20 Continue reading

It’s Geek Week (like every other week at HPB)

If you’re looking to express your geeky side with pride—and why shouldn’t you?—Half Price Books is the place. Our stores seem to have a never-ending supply of games, comics, action figures and other items designed to help you geek out.

Here are just a few highlights we’ve learned about that are currently in our stores around the country. “A Geek Week Sneak Peek,” I guess you could call it. If you are interested in any of them, contact The Buy Guy.

Lee---X-Men-1-(2)[1]X-Men #1 King-Size Special
Signed by Stan Lee!
Has a little bit of rubbing and wear to the bottom of the spine, but no other damage or signs of wear.
At our Mentor, Ohio store: $100 Continue reading

Just some old stuff… (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Bet you didn’t know that March 2 is Old Stuff Day! (Seems like every day is Old Stuff Day around my office—my house, too.) It made me start thinking about all the discoveries we’ve made in the buying areas of our stores across the country. Sometimes, it’s a memento left in a book. Most notably, there was an old book a store had had for a while in a backroom; tucked inside it was a lock of hair pinned to a 1934 obituary. We tracked down a descendant of the deceased and returned the precious keepsake. Sometimes, it’s a book that looks like nothing much but turns out to be extremely scarce, like the second edition of Calvin’s Commentaries, its centuries-old cover worn and plain, found in the bottom of a box of “old stuff.” (While we had it on display, someone stole it and then returned it, with a note attached that said he’d only wanted to be able to hold it for a while.)

cover

Not long ago, a store employee came across the book pictured above. We took a closer look. At first (and second and maybe third) glance, it appeared to really just be old stuff. Its cover was mottled and faded, bumped and spotted. There was no title, author, or other information featured on its cover. Its pages were foxed and browned, some to an extreme. But, hey, the book was published in 1833, almost two centuries ago. You might expect some fading and foxing. Continue reading

Washington, Lincoln—and Adams, Too! (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Presidents’ Day began as a holiday to mark the birthday of the Father of Our Country, first President George Washington. It was later expanded to include the beloved 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. They’re most certainly worthy recipients of a holiday, but we’re thinking it’s time to also give a little love to Father George’s successor, second Prez John Adams. (Especially since he got cut from the hit musical Hamilton.)

And what better way to honor John Adams than to show off a first edition copy of this important 1787 book explaining his theories of the government of this country?

A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America
John Adams
1787, London. Printed for C. Dilly, in the Poultry
First Edition. In original binding.
$10,000johnadamsAdams intended to write a single volume. The first, published in London, was so successful that Adams was encouraged to write a second volume and then a third. The book promotes a mixed government in which “the rich, the well-born and the able” are separated into a senate, unable to dominate a lower house of representatives.

This copy, available at our South Arlington store, is in remarkable condition, considering its age and historical importance. The book is fragile but complete. There is an owner inscription from 1787 and a presentation inscription from 1909.

Interested in purchasing this piece of American history or learning more about it? Contact the Buy Guy!

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

Go Back to the Throwbacks: Vinyl, Board Games and Real Books

In this computer age, when everything’s digitized and carried around in your pocket, are people still buying actual, real books? Clunky board games with piles of pieces? Big, inconvenient LPs? Why, yes, they are!

For lifelong readers, there’s nothing that can take the place of holding and reading a real book or magazine. Board games offer tactile and kinetic pleasures that we need—and they do a great job of connecting us in groups of family or friends. And audio media that have come along after vinyl records just can’t compete with the richer aural and visual experience of LPs, which are worth a little inconvenience.

Those of us who’ve been around a while are rediscovering these throwback media. But the big and encouraging story is that younger generations who may start out curious about these relics are finding that they have a lot of value and many aesthetic advantages beyond their novelty. Continue reading

Celebrate Science Fiction Day and Asimov’s Birthday: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

Isaac Asimov’s exact birthdate is not known, but Isaac celebrated it on January 2nd, so that’s the “official” date. It also has been made Science Fiction Day in honor of this prolific writer who is considered one of the Big Three in the sci-fi genre. (The other two are Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke—no slouches, but they didn’t get Science Fiction Day on their birthdays.)

Asimov wrote more than 400 books and won the Hugo Award four times and the Nebula Award once. He wrote several series of books, notably the Foundation series, but also the Robot and Empire series, and, as Paul French, the Lucky Starr series for younger readers. He wrote numerous short stories, popular science nonfiction books and articles and provided the name and editorials, beginning in 1977, for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. Busy guy!

Our Fort Wayne, Indiana, store has a 1986 Easton Press leather-bound edition of Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. This science fiction standalone classic was originally published in 1972 and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novel. This copy is in Very Good condition, with a minor bump on the top right corner. Its price is $45. If you’re interested in purchasing this book, contact The Buy Guy!godsthemselves Continue reading

Christmas Past Makes a Great Christmas Present

The literary work most associated with Christmas is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but, really, all of Charles Dickens’ works somehow seem to fit the holiday season, so we would like to take this opportunity to feature a very special array of British editions of Dickens’ novels, mostly first editions illustrated by Phiz, and a couple of other very special holiday collectible editions.1-thechimes

The Chimes
This 1905 J.M. Dent deluxe edition of the second of Dickens’ famous Christmas books is bound in vellum, with lovely decorative gilt to the spine and front board, showing holly, ivy and cherubs in an Art Nouveau style. Illustrated by Charles E. Brock. $225

2-nicholasnicklebyThe Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
First Edition, mixed issue. Chapman and Hall, 1839. Twentieth-century half morocco binding by Zaehnsdorf of London. $1,200 Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain!: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

On his 70th birthday, Mark Twain gave a speech to friends gathered at Delmonico’s Restaurant. To mark the occasion, he noted that the age of 70 is “the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity; when you may throw aside the decent reserves which have oppressed you for a generation and stand unafraid and unabashed upon your seven-terraced summit and look down and teach—unrebuked.”

On the same occasion, he joked about his very first birthday: “I always think of it with indignation; everything was so crude, unaesthetic, primeval. Nothing like this at all. No proper appreciative preparation made; nothing really ready. Now, for a person born with high and delicate instincts—why, even the cradle wasn’t whitewashed—nothing ready at all. I hadn’t any hair, I hadn’t any teeth, I hadn’t any clothes. I had to go to my first banquet just like that.”

It got better for Mr. Twain. He lived a long and happy-but-cranky life, very productive and much celebrated during his time. Continue reading

Buy Guy Collections & Curiosities: When Brecah Met Harry

As a Half Price Books employee in the late 90s, Brecah started hearing a lot of buzz about a guy named Harry, and she wondered just who this fellow was. That’s where a love affair began—and has never ended.

Brecah has an ever-growing collection of all things Harry Potter: books (of course—some signed by author J.K. Rowling), movies, games, magazines, action figures and more.

I know a lot of our customers are just as fond of Harry as Brecah is, so in this, the third in our series of videos featuring our employees’ collections, Brecah shows us some of her treasures and lets us in on the magic spell of collecting Harry Potter.

We thank Brecah for sharing her Harry Potter collection with us. And to all of you HP (and HPB) fans out there, may Harry Potter books, movies and other delights continue to find their way from our shelves to yours! Fantastic Beasts hits theaters November 18.

Steve is the”Buy Guy” at Half Price Books Corporate.

H.P. Lovecraft: Rarest of Rare Collectibles

We’re getting ready for Halloween, and that doesn’t just mean putting the final touches on our zombie and Princess Leia costumes, it also means getting out our favorite creepy stories to set the mood. In our stores all around the country, books by Ray Bradbury, Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe are popping up on displays. Some of those displays include collectible books, and there are none finer than the two classic collections of H. P. Lovecraft works we’re featuring here.

Our Greenfield, Wisconsin, store was fortunate enough to have received a visit from the nephew of a very early Lovecraft enthusiast, Paul Klingbiel. Two Arkham House Lovecraft books were among the many books Uncle Paul had years ago, over many weeks, shipped to his science-loving nephew Robert. Now those two Arkham House treasures are being offered to our customers.

The Outsider and Others, by H. P. Lovecraft
Arkham House, 1939. First Printing.
The book is in Very Good Plus condition. The dust jacket, which is price-clipped, is in VG condition; there are several closed tears and paper loss to top and bottom of spine. $3,600

outsiders Continue reading