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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Alcoholics Anonymous

One of the curiosities of antiquarian book collecting is the fact that, on the face of it, it may seem to the outsider as nonsensical why one volume of the same book might be highly sought after, but a differing volume of the same book be not so highly regarded.

Such is the case with The Big Book, or what is originally titled as: Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than a Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism. First published in 1939 by Works Publishing Company of New York City, it is the book by which the movement was born, and written by Bill Wilson (the founder of the movement). The book lays out the story not only of the organization, but also of many personal experiences and practitioners along the way, as it describes the Twelve Step program that every AA member follows, as well as the traditions, expectations, the advice and support.

A true first edition of this book would be worth many thousands of dollars, and occasionally a rare true first appears at auction in mint or near mint condition, usually with provenance connecting it to the early circles of AA society. Because it became a ritual for a sponsor to pass on or award a fine copy of The Big Book to a member, there is usually always an exact trail of ownership, which increases its value for the collector.

While the rare true firsts (all undoubtedly gifted by Bill Wilson himself) can be worth in the region of tens of thousands, for the rest of us I would advise collecting The Big Book from a later reprint – say 1943 or later. It may shock you to learn that a copy of one of these later volumes – even only sixty or seventy years old, can be so highly sought after! A signed, mint condition 1947 copy of Alcoholics Anonymous recently went for sale at auction for several thousand US dollars, because it was signed by the author, as well as still containing its red and yellow highly attractive dust cover.

Alternatively, another very fine addition to any collection on the Al-Anon (or upon mutual aid societies or the history of America in general) might be the 1979 volume Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-founder of al-Anon and Wife of the Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters (New York). This very touching memoir would be an invaluable insight into the founder of one of the world’s largest self-help, mutual-aid societies, and if you can find an early presentation copy (or signed) then you may have found a volume worth many thousands of dollars!

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1941).

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1943). 1500 copies

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1945).

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1946). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism; 25000 copies

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1947). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism; 25000 copies

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1948). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

A Member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Matt Talbot and Alcoholics Anonymous. Catholic Information Society, New York (1948).

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1950). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1951). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1951). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing, New York (1954). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Works Publishing, New York (1954). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing, New York (1955). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing, New York (1955). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism

Wilson, Bill. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age. Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing, New York (1957). With 16 photgraphic illustrations

Wilson, Lois. Lois Remembers. Alcoholics Anonymous Family Group Headquarters, New York (1979). Memoirs of the Co-founder of Al-Anon and Wife of the Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, New York (1986). The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism; First Australian edition.