Money on the shelf

Photo by Chip Gross

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) is considered the father of modern-day wildlife management in North America; his 1933 book, Game Management, is a classic. I’m fortunate to own a copy of the second printing (1936) and recently wondered what it might be worth, so I contacted Jim Casada of Rock Hill, S.C., a fellow outdoors writer and an expert on collectible outdoor books.

“I’ve been collecting books all my life, dating to my 10th Christmas when my parents gave me a copy of Zane Grey’s Spirit of the Border,” Casada says. “I still have that particular book, and now somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 others.”

So how valuable are these books? “There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of outdoor titles that are collectible and have appreciable value,” he says. A few examples would be the “Nash Buckingham” titles published by Derrydale Press, which range in value from about $350 to $400, to as much as $1,000 for a signed and inscribed copy of De Shootin’est Gentman. Casada also points to a couple of turkey hunting books, originals of Henry Edwards Davis’s The American Wild Turkey ($1,200 with dust jacket) or Simon Everitt’s Tales of Wild Turkey Hunting ($800 to $1,000), as notable collectibles.

He went on to say that the best way to get an initial idea about the value of a book is to check some of the major online sellers such as Amazon, AbeBooks, Biblio, and others to see if the book is listed. “Condition, the edition, whether a book is signed, and whether the dust jacket is present can make a world of difference,” he says.

But getting back to the value of my book: Casada says, while it’s nice, it’s not especially rare, and is worth around $50 — more if it was signed. Even unsigned, it has appreciated 10 times its original $5 price tag (which was, by the way, a large amount of money — especially for a book — during the Great Depression when it was first published).

Winter in Ohio is the season that bids us to slow down and relax a bit, and there is no better way than to sit down by a fire with a warm drink and a good book.

I don’t recommend Game Management, except to professional wildlife managers. Instead, find Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. Written more for general audiences, it was published posthumously and has sold more than 2 million copies. In it, Leopold chronicles a year spent observing the natural world surrounding his beloved “shack” in southern Wisconsin during the early 20th century. That humble cabin now is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy!

W.H. “Chip” Gross is Ohio Cooperative Living’s Outdoors Editor and a member of Consolidated Electric Cooperative.