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Collecting Modern First Editions by Year

Modern First Editions as a category of collecting doesn't have a universally agreed beginning date. Some place the starting point in the late 19th century, others begin at the dawn of the 20th Century. We begin our list with the close of WWI because WWI transformed the world, including the natures of writing and of publishing.

Dust jackets prior to WWI were typically just disposable paper intended to protect the covers of a book. After the war, the typical nature of dust jackets is transformed to become an intrinsic part of the book; a medium for expressing the contents of the book and for catching the eye of book buyers in shops. As a rule of thumb, books published before WWI don't necessarily need their dust jacket to be collectible. After WWI, as much as 90% of the value of a collectible first edition is tied up in the presence and condition of the dust jacket. The value and desirability of Modern Firsts as a category is often defined as much by the appearance of the book as by the words within.