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Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books

Bukowski Ham on Rye

Ham on Rye is a 1982 novel by Charles Bukowski, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel written midway through his career. The first edition was published by Black Sparrow, a limited run of only 350 printings in a potential attempt to create demand by limiting the supply. The success certainly has worked for collectors, with the limited pool of books driving prices up for signed and unsigned first editions.

The first edition of Ham on Rye will generally sell for at least $400, even if not in good condition. This edition of the book is recognizable by a white and yellow cover with blue text and two-tone headshots of several men and women.

Signed copies of this first edition represent a significant jump in the price of the book. 100 first editions were signed and numbered, and all of these also originally included a one of a kind piece of art by Bukowski. Because this piece of art was not bound into the book, in some cases it might not still be attached, so of course it being included will affect the price. These are available from $2,000 up to about $4,000; a recent auction that included the art sold for $3,900.

Another version of this book that can be collectible is the Advanced Review Copy, which if signed can sell for $1,500, or the broadside poster which sells for $75 to $100 depending on condition, both of which were promotional materials issued before the first printing of the book. The American first printing of the paperback and foreign first printings can also be considered collectible, but rarely sell for more than $100.

Bukowski, Charles. Ham on Rye. Black Sparrow (1982). 350 copies, numbered and signed