It’s not easy to be a Hodgson Collector these days.
Oh, sure, the bulk of his writing is available either through ebooks, online or print-on-demand but if you want to collect the old stuff, it can run you quite a bit of moolah.
First off, it is almost impossible to collect any letters or signatures of Hodgson. Very, very few ever show up on the market and, when they do, generally sell for thousands of dollars. Unlike Lovecraft, I don’t think that Hodgson was an especially prolific letter writer which certainly cuts down on the number available. I’m sure that there are many examples currently being held in private collections but it’s unlikely any of those will show up soon.
So let’s take a look at the books and their current values.
First editions of Hodgson’s novels will likely run you in the mid to high four digits depending on condition. For example, a typical first edition of THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND (1908) lists for $8,500 here. The same bookseller has a copy of THE NIGHT LAND (1912) for only $4,250. First editions might have been plentiful during Lovecraft’s time but not so much so today.
The other first editions are even harder to find. A first printing of LUCK OF THE STRONG or MEN OF THE DEEP WATERS is likely to cost between $3,000-$5,000. Perhaps being short story collections caused them to not be kept as much as the novels.
In 1921-22, publishers Holden & Hardingham reprinted all of Hodgson’s books in what were called ‘cheap’ editions. Although they may have been considered ‘cheap’ in their time, they certainly are not now! Current listings on ebay show some of these volumes going for between $1,100-$2,700 although they do have dustjackets which affect the price considerably. I have seen rough copies of CARNACKI and CAPTAIN GAULT from the H&H reprints, without dustjackets, going for between $200-$300 at times.
The next major Hodgson publication is 1946′s THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND AND OTHER NOVELS from Arkham House. This book is one of the major reasons people still know Hodgson today and this is shown by its value. In recent years, this book has seen a steep climb in value and a copy today can run anywhere from $400-$800. This book will likely never
decrease in value due both to it’s historical and literary importance. If you ever want a copy of this, my advice is to buy as good a copy as you can afford now as it will surely cost you more in the future. It is one of my favorite books in my collection and a joy to read and hold.
The Arkham House imprint, Mycroft & Moran, produced their edition of CARNACKI in 1947. This book is important for a number of reasons. First, it is an early volume from a press specializing in mystery and detective fiction and, second, this was the first collection to feature all NINE of the Carnacki stories. Previous editions held only the 6 which had appeared in the magazines at the time. This edition included the 3 previously unpublished Carnacki stories discovered by H. C. Koenig. Henceforth, EVERY edition would contain all nine stories. So, this version was, in essence, the first appearance of those 3 stories. This can be a costly book. Prices range wildly on it depending on the book and dustjacket’s condition. Only a few years ago, the average price would have been between $50-$75 but today the average begins at around $100. I have seen dealers pricing this book at well over that, however, so beware. If this is an edition that you must have, set yourself a price and be patient. Eventually, you will be rewarded.
The last Arkham House collection of Hodgson came in 1967 with DEEP WATERS. This is a bit of a hodge-podge of many stories published in LUCK OF THE STRONG and MEN OF THE DEEP WATERS along with a few others. Oddly enough, it has seen a recent spike in value perhaps caused by AH collectors looking to complete their runs. In any case, copies of this book will average between $100-$200. As with the CARNACKI above, set your price and be a savvy collector.
The next book of note was OUT OF THE STORM, published by Donald M. Grant in 1975. This was actually one of the first Hodgson collections I ever personally owned so it has a bit of a soft spot with me. A paperback edition was published by Centaur Books in 1980 which omits the lengthy introduction by Sam Moskowitz. You want that introduction, trust me. One would expect that this book would be more highly prized but I have seen copies on ebay sell for as little as $30 even though some dealers ask $100 for it. I would classify this book as one of the 5 most important Hodgson books ever published.
In 1977, Ferret Fantasy produced a slim volume called POEMS OF THE SEA. This little hardcover reprinted the two volumes of poetry which Hodgson’s widow had published after his death in 1918. It’s a nice little book but, unless you’re interested in Hodgson’s poetry, not essential. Normally, prices for this book can waiver between $35-$75 when available as it doesn’t show up all that often.
1977 also saw Donald M. Grant publish THE DREAM OF X. This had been an extreme abridgement that Hodgson had done of THE NIGHT LAND in order to secure American copyright. It was discovered by Sam Moskowitz and presented here for the first time. A nice book, it does not seem to be highly prized by collectors as copies can be easily found in the $30 range.
R. Alain Everts small press, The Strange Company, published a series of 15 booklets in 1988 reprinting a selection of Hodgson’s stories. Some were unpublished while others hadn’t been seen since their original magazine appearances nearly 70 years earlier. This set is very rare and can be costly. The booklets themselves are very simple with no artwork or photos. A full set of these today can run between $200-$300 when found! All of those stories can be found in various other sources today so this is more of an item for the completist.
Moskowitz teamed with Donald M. Grant once again in 1991 for THE HAUNTED PAMPERO. This was a collection of (then) unpublished works by Hodgson. There is a regular edition as well as a signed, limited edition. The signed edition should cost you no more than $100 with the regular edition around $65.
I edited two chapbooks of Hodgson material for Necronomicon Press. They were DEMONS OF THE SEA (1992) and AT SEA (1993). Both, sadly, are out of print. They were collections of material that, at that time, had not been republished since their original magazine appearances. I have seen copies of both of these on ebay for around $60 which I would not agree with.
Starting in 1993, I published four collections of Hodgson material through my Hobgoblin Press. They were: THE EXPLOITS OF CAPTAIN GAULT (2 volumes–1993); THE UNCOLLECTED WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON (2 volumes–1995); BEYOND THE DAWNING: THE POEMS OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON (1995); and DOWN IN THE WEEDS (1997). All of these are long out of print. I have seen these on ebay and other places for about $50 a copy but would state that they are overpriced even at $25 a copy. All of the material in these volumes has been included in the 5 volume Night Shade collection which is still available in ebook format or in the Jane Frank books.
The final Hodgson collection from Moskowitz and Donald M. Grant, TERRORS OF THE SEA, appeared in 1996. Again, the book’s introduction is the best part and worth the price for that alone. This was also issued in a regular edition and a signed, limited edition. Prices for the signed edition hover around $75 while the regular edition rests around $50.
Starting in 2003, Night Shade Books began an ambitious project by printing all of Hodgson’s fiction in five volumes. It would take five years for all five volumes to appear. Although the hardcovers are now all out of print, they can be purchased rather cheaply through Amazon for the kindle. In the resale market, prices fluctuate for these books. Some dealers price them at $40 per volume while others can ask as much as $100 per volume so beware.
In 2005, Jane Frank published two collections culled from the Sam Moskowitz Hodgson files which she purchased at auction after Moskowitz’s death in 1997. These were THE WANDERING SOUL: GLIMPSES OF A LIFE: A COMPENDIUM OF RARE AND UNPUBLISHED WORKS BY WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON and THE LOST POETRY OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON and were published in a joint effort by PS Publishing and Tartarus Press. Both collections are worthy especially the WANDERING SOUL as this reprints many of Hodgson’s non-fiction essays and lectures. This is another case where the prices can vary wildly. I’ve seen each book sell for about $35 apiece but also listed for as much as $200 for the set. As always, set the price you’re willing to pay and be patient.
One of the most recent Hodgson books is the paperback collection, ADRIFT ON THE HAUNTED SEAS: THE BEST SHORT STORIES OF WILLIAM HOPE HODGSON. Edited by Douglas Anderson and published by Cold Spring Press, this book is oddly difficult to find today and can command high prices on the resale market. This book was distributed by Simon and Schuster, Inc. and retailed for a mere $11. Today, it can cost at least $30 or up to $100! This is shown by recent listings on the rare book website, abebooks.com. I honestly do not understand the logic behind this. Anderson’s introduction is a short 5 pages and the contents are available in other editions. My advice would be to take the $100 a dealer wants for this book and spend it on the two Jane Frank volumes!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to collecting Hodgson books. I haven’t covered the many paperback versions as they are, by and large, fairly easy to find and generally not too expensive. If you have any questions about the value of a particular title or edition, leave a message on this post and I’ll be happy to answer it!