A Guide to the Wisden Almanack
I have been collecting the Wisden Cricketers Almanack for a few years now and have enjoyed every minute of it, so much so I thought I would put a webpage together to share my experiences and to help out anyone who has any questions or is looking to start a Wisden collection or even just chat about them. I completed my set on 11th Sept 2010 and have now embarked on reading the set cover to cover (for the ones I have covers!)
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Click for Glossary (created 29-11-11)
I think the first thing to point out is that I am not a Wisden dealer by trade, I work in IT for a living, I do buy and sell Wisdens, so can be classed as a dealer but my collection always takes priority, I usually buy runs and sell the duplicates I accumulate or if I see a nice book that isn't too pricey at auction, Ill buy it and swap it for the one on my bookcase and sell on the other book, trying to perfect my collection which can be seen below (Many Wisden Dealers are Collectors too, but you will struggle to see their sets). Since I wrote this guide in 2005, such kind people have offered me several books to sell and hence I have put together the odd catalogue to place one spare Wisden with a collector who has a gap, fortunately as mark-up is not an issue (9.09% - which goes to fund this website) the prices are nice and low and it has worked well, some books were wanted by more than one collector (and there was a bun fight occasionally for the rare ones) so I set up www.wisdenauction.com so the collectors could battle it out, my mission for this site is to place books with collectors and not generate revenue, hence being an auction site without a buyers commission, anyway...
Another reason for this site is that I have had a few scary experiences when it comes to prices and I have paid over the odds at times as I was not aware of the market value of a certain book. The following Wisden Valuations page may help you decide what to pay for a book. NB Anywhere you see a light blue button like the one below clicking on it will take you to the appropriate page.
When I started collecting, I was trying to collect back to 1976, my birth year, I'm an avid fan
and statistician so the books are ideal for me but after collecting back to 1976
a family member sent me a 1950 Hardback as a present and so I had to go back to 50, I'm
was gap free back to 1876 - Not 1976!! until my final purchase in September
If I was to offer 1 piece of advice to a new collector, it would be to choose either to collect any version of the book (soft back, hard back, rebind) for each year or just to go all out for hardbacks (with DJs from 65) as I ended up being far too pedantic for my own good and ended up changing from strategy 1 to 2 after owning 1950 to date and decided to upgrade from the random linens I owned to all hardbacks (then to DJs!) which cost me a fortune, if you don't mind a yellow book then a brown book then a red rebind sat next to each other, the cheapest way is strategy 1. I was terrible, my books where all are all over the place! I would also strongly prompt that if you are buying hardbacks, buy them with a Dust Jacket (after 1965), but watch out for facsimile ones. (These are Black and yellow and not colourful, if in doubt , view our collection to see what they should look like). If you see hardback, make sure it is an original hardback and not a book rebound in hardboards.
Some facts I've picked up over the years that may help you out:
Issue 1 was 1864 - 1875 is by far the the rarest - Hardbacks started in 1896
- Linen (rather than paper) backs started in 1938 - Bat book marks were present
in the paperbacks from 1933 to 1939 - Dust Jackets started in 1965 with 65 to 72
being pretty rare - 1916-1919 and 1938-1946 are rare due to the wars -1963
(100th edition) has tonnes of good stuff in it (page 82) about
how many books have been printed and their styles etc.
We do have some spares at the moment - We are also happy to look for a Wisden for you - Or Sell any Wisdens You have for sale
We have a very active chat facility, that is available by clicking the button below for any further questions and answers you may have.
In the 1963 Edition there is a breakdown of page numbers, Dom has kindly updated this post 1963 , 2008 was the year Wisden broke 100,000 pages which seemed to go unnoticed! (Click here for the update).
The Rare Ones
The most important part about collecting are knowing which books are rare, wisden lost all its publication numbers before 1938 in a fire in WW2 so some of the numbers are unknown, but just by watching the market for long enough you can tell which books are the rare editions.
Surprisingly, the rarest book is the 1875 paperback (rumour has it wisden was going bankrupt at the time) as apposed to the first edition which is believed to be the second rarest paperback, 1869 is also pretty rare. Another rare book is the 1896 Hardback - The First Hardback.
Other rare editions are the books that where produced in the Wars , the 1916 Hardback being the rarest 20th century book although some debate that 1919 is rarer.
The 1917-1919 & 1940 - 1945 books are known to be hard to find, especially the Hardbacks.
Unknown to myself 1969-1972 are the rarest books since 1949, it is believed the 1971 is rarer as half were produced due to the poor test cricket fixture list.
The Type of Books
The type of books are as follows : Original Paperbacks (1864 to date) , Original Hardbacks (1896 to 1964) , Original Hardbacks with Dust Jackets (1965 +). There are also rebound books where the spine has collapsed due to age. Rebinds come in three categories, rebound with the original covers , rebound without the covers (and sometimes adverts) and a Publishers Rebind (i.e. a book that Wisden themselves have rebound). Facsimiles exist which are reprints of the Originals (usually the rare books), be aware that facsimile Dust Jackets exist also (it states this on the back page of the DJ). Recently a Big Version has been produced and leather bound books can also be found from 1995 (100 copies) & 1996+ (150).
My Collection - SEE PICTURES OF ALL OUR BOOKS HERE
Over a few years I have built up my collection and in 2008 I sold the family silver (some Rio Tinto shares) to purchase some of the rarer books. My collection is now complete after the purchase of an 1875 in September, I did own one previously (but not an 1869 at the time) but I sold my first 1875 to fund www.WisdenAuction.com , the only time my collection has been impacted on from a selling point of view. The next step for me is now to replace my 19th Century Rebinds and then the books with a facsimile spine, then to increase my hardback collection. The individual books within the cabinet are: 1864 Rebound without covers, signed (and once owned) by John Arlott, 1865 Rebound without covers, 1866 Rebound with front cover, 1867-70 rebound without covers, 1872 Rebound with Covers, 1873 Paperback with facsimile spine, 1871&2 Brown Rebinds & gorgeous from Auty Museum - 1873 & 1874 & 1875 Rebound without covers, 1876 Paperback with facsimile spine (no rear cover), 1877 Publishers Rebind without covers, 1878 Facsimile front cover but real rear cover, 1879 paperback with facsimile spine, 1880 - 1895 Original Paperbacks , and also an 1895 which is a special (alleged) publishers rebind to look like an original hardback, it is nice and quirky as the Hardbacks didn't start until 1896. 1896 Hardback, 1897 Paperback then 1898 to 1940 Original Hardbacks - 1941 Original Hardback (signed by Hubert Preston a future editor, 1936 is also a presentation copy and my 1933 was owned by George Duckworth) - 1942 to 1964 Original Hardback - 1965 to date in Original Hardback with DJs all pristine. So an 1897 Hardback is a must then to add to those original covers in the first 15. I am proud to say I recently handled an 1864 Original, hopefully it will join my set soon!
Our Catalogues - Selling on behalf of members.
I am very proud of all the books we have managed to place via our Catalogue, these include a very rare set of hardbacks ranging from 1898 to date - including all WW1s and many paperbacks and even some copies from the 1860s & 1870s. If you have any books for sale the catalogue is a very good way to reach several hundred Wisden fanatics.
Click Here for the latest Catalogue.
Top Ten Tips from our forum..
1) Strategy is ever so important. There are several strategies about for example buy the best condition one that you can and try to obtain or buy either hardbacks (back to a certain set year) or all softbacks. Mix and - if you don't mind a yellow book then a brown book then a red rebind sat next to each other, it is after all the cheapest way.
2) Donít buy a Hardback post 1965 without a Dust Wrapper Ė youíll only end up buying the original one day in the future and then have a spare that no one wants! Especially after 1978. PS Watch out for fake wrappers too - try and buy originals if possible.
3) Find a mentor to help you outĖ even if it is this forum.
4) Know the price and the rarity of the book you are buying. A 1970 is rare but not as rare as a 1940 which is not as rare as an 1875!
5) For post WW2 donít pay too much as another will be along soon.
6) Read them
7) Don't panic and try to buy too many too quick as you may overspend on poor quality ones.
8) Whilst you want best quality, If you canít wait long, settle for the best you can buy as you can always upgrade later and sell your spares.
9) Learn which dealers you should use and those you should avoid!!
10) Know the standard defects of each year, the 1948 Hardback is a hard book to find mint due to the poor quality materials used after the war Ė so you may have to settle for a little more rustic copy.
Lots more advice is available, please click on the Discussion Forum Tab on the Main Page.