Alcoholics Anonymous original manuscript auctioning with $3 million estimate

Bookworm1983

Bookworm1983

2017-04-18 14:30:20

Want to own a piece of history that has changed millions of lives? The original Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) manuscript comes to auction on June 8.

The work, known to many as the Big Book, was published in 1939 and has sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into 43 languages.

Published four years after the organisation was founded, it reveals AA's 12-step process to recovery from alcohol addiction. 

The manuscript was written by Bill Wilson, one of the organisation's founding members, and includes contributions from several AA groups across the US.

The 161 typed pages feature annotations from Wilson, who was inspired to form the group after recovering from alcoholism himself. He was 40 when he stopped drinking in 1935, and never touched another drop.  

According to AA, the organisation has a 50% long-term success rate, although critics argue this is no better than other treatments for alcoholism.

Wilson left the manuscript to his wife when he died in 1971.

A belief in God plays a strong role in the 12-step process

The Big Book has been translated into 43 languages

Dr Ernest Kurtz, author and historian on AA, comments: “Not only is this manuscript the most important nonfiction manuscript in all history, I consider it right up there with the Magna Carta because of the personal freedom it has provided so many millions of alcoholics!”

The manuscript has a high-end estimate of $3 million ahead of its sale at Profiles in History.

First editions of the original book are also hugely collectible. Just 4,860 were printed in 1939. Only 1,900 remain.

Examples sell for around $10,000 in excellent condition, complete with dust jacket.  

Also look out for the seventh printing. These can be as valuable as first editions.

The reason? Just 1,000-1,500 copies of the seventh printing were produced, due to paper shortages in 1945 caused by WWII. 

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