Walter Scott rare books and memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:34:50

Walter Scott rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to the hugely popular Scottish historical novelist, poet and playwright Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).

Brief History/biography

Walter Scott is considered the first English language author to gain a truly international reach, most of his novels being considered classics of the era, and still widely read today. As a young man Scott collected stories, largely from local story-tellers, and was enthralled with the oral traditions of the Scottish borders. This history fed into his vast and prolific writing career, begun in his twenties. He first achieved fame through his poetry, but it was his novels that became the vessels for all those stories he collected from the Scottish oral tradition, and that established his reputation and timeless popularity. The first of these was called Waverley, and because it was published anonymously, all Scott’s subsequent novels were thereafter always referred to as the Waverley novels, and still are today.

Types of rare books and memorabilia


Bloomsbury Auctions

  • The Complete Works, 98 volumes (1860 – Edinburgh), uniformly bound in leather, sold for £2,600 in October 2008.
  • The Edinburgh Waverley, 58 volumes, (c1850 – J. B. Millet) library edition, one of 150 numbered copies, rebound in leather by Macdonald , sold for £1,800 in November 2007.
  • The Waverley Novels, 48 volumes (1860 – Charles Black), sold for £1,400 in May 2001.
  • Roy Roy three volumes (1818), Ivanhoe three volumes (1820), and Halidon Hill (1822), first editions, sold for £1,400 in June 2010.
  • Select Poetry, six volumes, in tartan bindings in a tartan box, sold for £1,300 in February 2009.


  • Novels, 76 volumes (1814-31 – Edinburgh), first editions uniformly bound in leather, sold for £21,150 in July 2000.
  • Works, 54 volumes (1900 – Dana Estes, Boston), uniformly bound in leather, limited edition set, sold for $27,400 in September 2007.
  • Works, 51 volumes (1912-13, Houghton Mifflin Company) uniformly bound in leather, limited edition set, sold for £5,378 in March 2004.
  • Oeuvres, 142 volumes, (c1826, Charles Gosselin, Paris) French translation, uniformly bound, sold for £4,800 in December 2006.


  • Waverley, three volumes, first edition (1814), in publisher’s original boards, sold for £10,000 in October 2010.
  • Waverley, three volumes, third edition (1814), inscribed by the author, sold for £5,250 in December 2010.

Documents, Autographs, and other items


  • Marble bust of Sir Walter Scott by Francis Chantrey (1828), sold for £67,550 in July 2000.
  • Autograph manuscript of The Raid of Rittersford an Ancient Border Ballad, sold for £17,400 in November 2006.
  • Fourteen autograph letters signed by Scott to his publishers Longman and Rees, sold for $16,100 in October 1994.

Guide for collectors

Sets of all the Waverley novels are particularly collectible, although it is very hard to find a complete set, due to the sheer number of novels this includes. Often the sets, complete or incomplete, have been elegantly uniformly rebound by a previous owner, which renders them very collectible, especially if from a prestigious binder’s. These sets are often sold incomplete, yet consisting of many attractively leather bound volumes, to be put on display as collections in private libraries. Some 20th century sets can also be quite valuable, when limited edition and uniformly bound, as can foreign translations of his works.

However, collecting all the volumes from a certain edition of the Waverley novels can become a project for a collector, and if odd volumes are being sold, they may be desired very much by someone missing that particular volume of their set. The novels were published so many times and in so many different editions that while there are huge numbers of Scott novels on the market, one specific publication can be hard to find.

To find any copy of Scott’s works in original publisher’s boards or cloth is extremely rare, these bindings being so delicate. This makes them very valuable, if not so suited to putting on display as those in nice leather uniform bindings.

Tales of my Landlord (1819) is sometimes considered a subset of the Waverley novels and therefore the novels contained within the Tales can be collected as a set. The novels can be worth a lot on their own of course, particularly the scarce first editions, and the most popular of the novels such as Waverley, Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and The Lady of the Lake. Several of the novels are often sold together, not as complete sets, but as a few Scott first editions.

Being such a significant part of Scottish history, collectors of Scottish antiques and memorabilia find Scott particularly interesting, and items relating to Scott’s life and influence, including his autograph, are also very valuable.

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