Maurice Sendak rare books and memorabilia



2015-06-26 10:39:19

Maurice Sendak rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to American children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak (1928-2012).

Brief History/biography

Maurice Bernard Sendak was best known for his children’s book Where the Wild Things Are (1963, Haper & Row, New York). The charming story coupled with his moving and imaginative illustrations enchanted children worldwide, despite initial concerns that the characters were monstrous and grotesque.

Some critics have said that Where the Wild Things Are is the first book to depict the psychology of childhood anger and frustration as working itself out through a beautiful and imaginative process, as a child sent to bed without supper rampages through his own imagination and frightens all the monsters within it, before feeling lonely and returning to find his supper hot and waiting for him. In this way, by presenting misbehaviour as something not to regret but as part of the dreams and formations of childhood, Sendak revolutionised the way in which children’s books were written.

He insisted that his ‘gods’ and influences were Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson, as well as Mozart.

Sendak also illustrated the Little Bear series of books by Else Holmelund Minarik, and Zlateh the Goat by Isaac Bashevis Singer. His later book In the Night Kitchen (1970) was censored due to nudity. Outside Over There (1981) tells the story of a girl whose little sister is captured by goblins. His final book was Bumble Ardy (2011), published eight months before his death from a stroke in 2012.

Types of rare books and memorabilia



  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963) first edition, review copy. Sold for $19,975 in April 2001.
  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963) first edition, inscribed by Sendak with a sketch, sold for $6,120 in April 1997.
  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963) first edition, sold for $5,760 in December 2006.


  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963) first edition, sold for £6,600 in March 2005.
  • Where the Wild Things Are (1963) first edition, signed by Sendak, sold for $6,250 in December 2011.



  • Original watercolour, The Ballad of Chicken Soup (1973) sold for $11,750 in March 2005.
  • Original pencil preliminary drawing of Max from Where the Wild Things Are, sold for $5,100 in December 2007.


  • Original pencil drawing of unused image from Outside Over There. Inscribed by Sendak. Sold for $5,378 in December 2004.


  • Wild Things are Happening. Drawings and studies for the 1998 Bell Atlantic advertising campaign. Sold for £18,750 in December 2010.
  • Pencil drawing of a wild thing, sold for $14,400 in December 2003.
  • 4 Photolithographed prints of Where the Wild Things Are scenes, all signed, sold for $5,400 in December 2003.

Guide for collectors

Where the Wild Things Are is the most popular first edition among collectors, as are illustrations from this book.

Original copies of Sendak’s books are worth much more with their original dust jackets, and even more if inscribed by Sendak, especially as he often accompanied an autograph with a small sketch.

When Where the Wild Things Are won the Caldecott Award in 1964, many first printings of the book were recalled to add a medal sticker to the dust jackets. First editions are worth more if they come from the original printing and do not possess this sticker, as they therefore retain their original dust jackets and are more rare in this state.

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