Collecting Delaware Books

Delaware Histories

This article was originally published in Volume 1, Number 3 (June 1992) of Collecting Delaware Books. It has been revised to bring it up to date. (c) copyright John P. Reid 1992, 1995.

There are many books that deal with Delaware History. However, a few are considered standard histories that belong in every local scholar's library.

Ferris, Benjamin. A History of the Original Settlements on the Delaware River.... 1846. We have abbreviated the lengthy title. Includes material on Wilmington. Copies are not common. We find one retail price for a worn copy with a slight defect in the foldout map of Delaware of $100.

Vincent, Francis. A History of the State of Delaware.... 1870. Vincent was a Wilmington newspaper publisher who issued his history in parts. It did not prove to be a financial success, so he discontinued publication after covering the Swedish and Dutch periods. The individual parts are sometimes found separately, but it is more common to find them bound in a volume. The originals included local advertising, which is often included in the bound copies. We found an auction price of $65, several retail prices in the $125 to $200 range.

Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware, 1609-1888. 1888. 2 vol. The basic history. The binding does not hold up well on this history. Being leather, repairs can be quite costly. Auction prices were $135 for a disbound copy and $435 to $580 for copies with some defects. Retail prices used to range from $500 for a poorly rebound copy to $800 or more for better ones. There is a recent reprint for about $120 and and index for about $85. The existence of this reprint has reduced auction and retail prices for originals by perhaps a third.

Conrad, Henry C. History of the State of Delaware. 1908. 3 vol. An excellent history, well indexed. We find auction prices (no condition noted) of $70 to $350. Retail prices are $200 to $400.

Powell, Walter A. A History of Delaware. 1928. Not as useful as the other histories. Auction prices are $45 to $60, retail $65.

Bevan, W. Lloyd and E. Melvin Williams. History of Delaware, Past and Present. 1929. 4 vol. Two volumes are history, two are biographies paid for by the persons listed. (This was a way for the publishing company to recover some of the costs.) The history adds little to previous volumes except for the period 1908 to 1929. The cloth binding is often faded or waterstained. Auction prices are $80 to $170. Retail price is about $200.

Reed, H. Clay, editor. Delaware, A history of the First State. 1947. 3 vol. The third volume is biographies included by the publisher. This is a thorough history, organized by topics and written by experts in each field. The binding gets shaky with use, but pristine copies are still found. Auction prices range from $75 for a shabby copy to $150. Retail price is about $200. Copies missing the biography volume can be found for $50 to $100.

Munroe, John A. History of Delaware. 1979. Excellent one-volume history. Good coverage of political history, upstate-downstate conflicts, and race relations. Too new for a price to be established, but this would be a good one to add to your collection for future value.

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