There can be few as collectible characters in the whole of modern fiction as J.D. Salinger, author of the monumental book – Catcher in the Rye (1951); true first edition copies of which in fine condition can go for thousands of dollars at auction (more if signed).
What makes Salinger so eminently collectible is partly his importance to American literature, and partly his reclusive (and some would say extreme) lifestyle. Salinger was considered somewhat of a hermit throughout his life and a reclusive figure. His growing fame and popularity was mirrored perfectly by him receding from private life; employing a secretary to counter allcorrespondence, and rarely even emerging from his home. Added to this is the dearth of stories and material that we have from the author, even given his obvious talents.
Salinger rose to prominence at a very young age – his short stories gaining notoriety and making waves even when he was a young man (and about to join the American military, before World War 2). His stories were so hard-hitting in fact, that several were turned away after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as they were deemed unpublishable at that time of national mourning and outrage.
Instead, of course, we have the legacy of Holden Caulfield – alienated protagonist of Catcher in the Rye, who seemed to sum up the Beat and the pre-70s generational malaise of ‘now what’s the point?’ However, collecting Salinger does not necessarily have to be such an expensive experience. A true first hardcover edition of Catcher in The Rye can be found for under a thousand dollars ($650-850) if you are happy to settle for the slightly later first UK and Canadian editions – or the second print run of the first edition US edition with Little, Brown. If however, you happen to have a copy which is signed by the great man himself then – the price can be expected to go up considerably (tens of thousands of dollars, since Salinger’s personal handwriting is so rare!).
Otherwise, consider looking to some of the smaller works of Salinger, such as Nine Stories (1953) or Franny and Zooey (1961) – both of which can be found, in near perfect condition (true first edition hardcovers) for under $750.
Salinger, J.D.. Personal Notes on an Infantryman. Collier's, New York (1942).
Salinger, J.D.. The Kit Book: For Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago (1942). "2" in the copyright date; First Issue, with 1942 on the copyright page and without the head and toe bands
Salinger, J.D.. The Long Debut of Lois Taggett. Story Magazine, (1942). Cover price reads "40 cents".
Salinger, J.D.. The Kit Book: For Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. Consolidated Book Publishers, Chicago (1943).
Salinger, J.D.. The Varioni Brothers, Saturday Evening Post July 17, 1943. The Curtis Publishing, Philadelphia (1943).
Salinger, J.D.. Both Parties Concerned, Saturday Evening Post , February 26, 1944 ,. The Curtis Publishing, Philadelphia (1944).
Salinger, J.D.. Elaine Story Magazine. Story Magazine, New York (1945).
Salinger, J.D.. The Stranger Collier's December 1, 1945. Collier's, New York (1945).
Salinger, J.D.. The Best American Short Stories 1949. Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1949).
Salinger, J.D.. Catcher in the Rye. Little Brown, Boston (1951). first issue with back panel portrait of Salinger credited to Lotte Jacobi and "$3.00" on the front flap; First Printing with the words "FIRST EDITION" printed on the copyright page; Later editions do not state "First Edition" on the copyright page;
Salinger, J.D.. Catcher in the Rye. Hamish Hamilton, London (1951). Original unclipped dust jacket with 10s 6d; dust wrapper design by Fritz Wegner First GB Edition
Salinger, J.D.. Catcher in the Rye. Grosset and Dunlap, New York (1951).
Salinger, J.D.. Catcher In The Rye. The Modern Library, New York (1951).
Salinger, J.D.. For Esme-With Love and Squalor, and Other Stories. Hamish Hamilton , London (1953).
Salinger, J.D.. L'Attrape-coeurs (The Catcher in the Rye). Robert Laffont, Paris (1953).
Salinger, J.D.. Nine Stories. Little ,Brown, Boston (1953). "First edition". (title page verso); Jacket with $3.00 price intact; The author's second book, which is a collection of short stories that includes "For Esme - with Love and Squalor"; "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."; "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut" &tc.
Salinger, J.D.. Franny and Zooey. Little, Brown , Boston (1957).
Salinger, J.D.. The Catcher in the Rye. Hamish Hamilton, London (1957).
Salinger, J.D.. The Catcher In The Rye.. Modern Library, New York (1958).
Salinger, J.D.. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour. Little Brown , Boston (1959). First ed. [stated] 2nd issue, with dedication page tipped-in between book title page and title page for the first novel in the book 'Raise High'; Includes the misspelling of "Sey-more: for Seymour on page 173 that was identified in the Little brown proof copy and was supposed to be corrected in the second printing of the First Edition; 30 copies.
Salinger, J.D.. El Cazador Oculto. Compania General Fabril Editora, Buenos Aires (1961).
Salinger, J.D.. Franny & Zooey. Little, Brown, Boston (1961). Hardcover stated " FIRST EDITION" on the copyright page;
Salinger, J.D.. Franny and Zooey. Heinemann, London (1962).
Salinger, J.D.. Franny y Zooey. Plaza and Janes, S.A., Buenos Aires (1962).
Salinger, J.D.. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour an Introduction. Little, Brown , New York (1963). This stated "First Edition" is the third state with a tipped in dedication page, but Seymour is misspelled as "Seymore" on page 173; 30 copies.
Salinger, J.D.. Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction. William Heinemann , London (1963).
Salinger, J.D.. Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenter. Progress Publishers, Moscow (1982). includes a glossary of "Americanisms." ; A RUSSIAN PIRATE.which reprints these three texts, IN ENGLISH, with a Russian Intro and a Glossary of terms