An American Life

Reagan An American Life, first edition, first printing, signed copy.

Signed first edition of An American Life by President Ronald Reagan.

Octavo, 748pp. Blue cloth spine, red boards, title in gilt on spine. First edition, first printing, with full number line on copyright page (1,3,5,7,9,10,8,6,4,2). Publishers first edition dust jacket, $24.95 on front flap, fine. Signed by former President Ronald Reagan on half title. An excellent example of a signed book by President Reagan, with a notably less robust signature from later in life.

An American Life

First edition of An American Life, inscribed by President Ronald Reagan to a supporter.

First edition of An American Life, inscribed by President Ronald Reagan to a supporter.

Octavo, 748pp. Blue cloth spine, red boards, title in gilt on spine. First edition, first printing, with full number line on copyright page (1,3,5,7,9,10,8,6,4,2). Book appears unread. Publisher’s first edition dust jacket, $24.95 on front flap, touch of wear along top edge at spine, otherwise a fine example. Signed by former President Ronald Reagan: “To Martine Willy Laeremans – With Very Best Wishes. Ronald Reagan. Jan. 31 – 1991.”

An American Life

Signed limited edition of An American Life by President Ronald Reagan.

Signed limited edition of An American Life by President Ronald Reagan.

Octavo, 748pp. Blue morocco, gilt title on spine and presidential seal on front cover. Raised bands on spine. All gilt edges, with light rubbing to bottom edge of text block. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Marbled endpapers. Multiple illustrations throughout. Lacking the oak display box and cassette tapes. From a limited edition of 2000 signed copies, this being number 1140.

An American Life

President Reagan An American Life, signed first edition.

Octavo, 748pp. Blue cloth spine, red boards, title in gilt on spine. First edition, third printing, with number line on copyright page (3,5,7,9,10,8,6,4). Publishers first edition dust jacket, fine condition, with $150 price tag from “Ronald Reagan Library Gift Shop” on back panel. Signed on bookplate affixed to half title, signed by former President Ronald Reagan.

An American Life

Octavo, 748pp. Blue cloth spine, red boards, title in gilt on spine. First edition, first printing, with full number line on copyright page (1,3,5,7,9,10,8,6,4,2). Publishers first edition dust jacket, $24.95 on front flap, fine. Signed on bookplate affixed to front endpaper, signed by former President Ronald Reagan.

An American Life

An American Life by President Ronald Reagan. Signed limited edition.

Octavo, 748pp. Gilt title on spine and presidential seal on front cover. Raised bands on spine. All gilt edges. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Marbled end papers. Multiple illustrations throughout. Blue morocco binding. Oak displace case in near fine condition, with embossed gold presidential seal on top. Limited edition of 2000 signed copies, this being number 497, signed by President Ronald Reagan.

Comments: Original Styrofoam shipping container with presidential seal included.

An American Life

Octavo, 748pp. Gilt title on spine and presidential seal on front cover. Raised bands on spine. All gilt edges. Sewn-in silk bookmark. Marbled end papers. Multiple illustrations throughout. Blue morocco binding. Oak displace case in near fine condition, with embossed gold presidential seal on top. Limited edition of 2000 signed copies, this being number 858, signed by President Ronald Reagan.
Comments: The most desirable of Reagan signed books. A fine copy.

An American Life

An American Life by President Ronald Reagan.

Octavo, 748pp. Blue cloth spine, red boards, title in gilt on spine. First edition, first printing, with number line on copyright page (1,3,5,7,9,10,8,6,4,2). Light foxing along top edge, not affecting text. Publishers first edition dust jacket, fine condition, $24.95 on front flap. Signed on front free end paper by President Ronald Reagan.

The Life of John Ledyard, the American Traveler – Comprising selections from his journal and correspondence.

Octavo (210 x 135mm), [xii], 325pp. Contemporary half calf, marbled boards, raised bands, gilt title on spine. Rubbed boards, edges. Light dampstain on front half title and free endpapers. Marbled endpapers. The present American edition proceeds the London edition, entitled Memoirs of the Life and Travels of John Ledyard, published the same year. (Sabin 88991)
Comments: Ledyard was an American born Marine, who served onboard the Resolution on Cook’s Third Voyage. His rare Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage was published in Hartford, Ct, in 1783 and was the only eyewitness account of Cook’s death. He was later arrested in Siberia by the order of the Russian Empress, who thought him a French spy. Later in life he explored the “Dark Continent” of Africa, where he disappeared in 1789.

Life At The U.S. Naval Academy – The Making of the American Naval Officer. With an introduction by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Life at the US Naval Academy:The Making of the American Naval Office with Intro by Franklin D. Roosevelt

Octavo, xx, [2], 359pp, [5pp ads]. Blue cloth, title in gilt on spine and front panel, naval academy emblem in gilt on front panel. Frontispiece portrait of “The Chapel,” tissue covered. 73 illustrations with fold-out map at rear. From the personal collection of Frederick Adams, Jr. (Halter T-143)

Comments: Ralph Earle (1874-1939) served in the United States Navy. He was involved in the Spanish-American War and World War I.

First Among Equals – The Supreme Court In American Life

First edition of First Among Equals, signed by Ken Starr. Octavo, xxviii, 320pp. Blue hardcover, cloth spine. Stated “First Printing: October 2002” on copyright page. Publishers dust jacket, fine. Signed on half title: “…With all good wishes and gratitude, Ken Starr.”

Comments: Ken Starr (b. 1946) was the solicitor general for George H.W. Bush, then special council tasked with investigating President Bill Clinton.

My Life As An American Jew – An Autobiography

Octavo, 526pp. Blue cloth, title in gilt on spine. Light wear at edges and toning to cloth on spine. From the personal library of Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz and signed by him on the front free end paper.
Comments: Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz was a spiritual leader for presidents, supreme court justices, Israeli prime ministers and the Washington DC community for three decades. As the leader of the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, he was called upon by President Lyndon Johnson in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to help craft the Thanksgiving Day address to the nation. A few years later, he was called upon by President Jimmy Carter to assist with the Camp David Accords. He is remembered by the Washington DC community as a teacher and advocate for social integration. He passed away in 2012.

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The Works of the Presidents

Top 10 Limited Edition Publications by U.S. Presidents

As a rare book firm specializing in Americana and specifically Presidential History, were often asked what is the “most valuable” book written by a President, or what is the “rarest work by a President?” That’s never an easy question but were always happy to show them some interesting items from the 1700s from President Jefferson or a book signed by President Obama, depending on the customer.

Since the time of President Theodore Roosevelt, publishers have been selling limited edition printings of their authors writings. This is done for financial purposes and to draw attention to the publication. It’s also a nice way to guarantee that you’re getting an authentic signature from a President.

To clarify, this list is not the Top-10 Rarest Presidential books nor is it the Top-10 signed books by Presidents.

Here are the Top-10 Signed Limited Editions by Presidents, ranked from most common to some of the most difficult to find:

#10 – Decision Points by President George W. Bush

Published in 2010 after leaving office, this signed limited edition has been produced over 4000 times. It was originally offered for $350 retail, but due to the overproduction of this book, it has not grown in value like many other presidential publications.

#9 – The Memoirs of Richard Nixon by President Richard Nixon

Published in 1978, Nixon’s memoirs were greeted by the public with skepticism. Many doubted that he would acknowledge wrongdoing in the Watergate affair. Part of his public relations initiative was to sign numerous limited-edition printings of his Memoirs. For the cloth edition of his memoirs from Grosset and Dunlap, it is unknown how many were signed by the former President.

#8 – All Easton Press Publications

This covers President Ford and President Carter, who were prolific signers with Easton Press. While a nice way to get an authentic item signed by a former President, they often don’t hold their retail purchase price upon resale.

#7 – An American Life by Ronald Reagan

Housed in an attractive oak display case, when released in 1990, this was the ultimate collector’s piece for Reagan aficionados. Limited to 2000 signed copies, this signed book commands the highest retail prices of any Reagan signed piece. Another work by former President Reagan, Speaking My Mind, was released the same year with 5000 signed copies available.

Ronald Reagan - An American Life

#6 – A History of the American People by Woodrow Wilson

Shortly after Wilson assumed the Presidency of Princeton University, this limited edition of 350 signed copies was released for the alumni of the university. A later limited edition of 400 copies, published in 1918, was also signed by President Wilson.

#5 – The Vantage Points by President Lyndon Johnson

President Johnson published his best-selling memoirs in 1971. Along with the release of the public edition, he also did a limited edition of 300 signed copies, mostly for support of the administration. Admirers of Johnson and collectors alike can occasionally find these books for sale, but they’re scarce and often show signs of wear since they were covered in red vellum.

#4 – Big Game Hunting by Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt will appear twice on our list. He was a prolific author, writing over 45 books during his lifetime. While not every publication received a limited edition signed printing, a few did, including African Game Trails (500 signed copies), Outdoor Pastimes of An American Hunter (260 signed copies) and Big Game Hunting In The Rockies and on The Great Plains (1000 copies). Big Game Hunting was published in 1899, shortly before Roosevelt was offered the post of Vice President under William McKinley.

Theodore Roosevelt - Big Game Hunting

#3 – Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt

This limited-edition printing is the scarcest of all Theodore Roosevelt signed books. Published in 1905 during the height of his Presidency, new copies rarely appear on the market.

#2 – Crusade In Europe by Dwight D. Eisenhower

When published in 1948, 1426 signed copies of this book were produced with Eisenhower’s signature on the D-Day Order. In addition to the 1426 publicly available, a small number of copies were held back for the author’s personal use. These copies were bound in either blue morocco or red morocco, with an attractive flaming sword motif on the cover. The copies in red morocco were bound by the Gaston Pilon Bindery and pulled directly from the allotment of 1426 signed copies. There is some debate over how many red morocco copies were produced, with numbers ranging from 26-35, but regardless, to receive a copy in this presentation binding from General Eisenhower was a real honor. The blue morocco was from an even more limited run. According to early records, only 11 copies produced by the Whitman Bennett Bindery. The blue bound copies were not pulled from the limited edition of 1426. A truly unique piece of Presidential history.

#1 – The White House: An Historic Guide, signed by President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy

This book was signed in a limited edition of 95 copies and given as gifts to supporters in 1962. While maybe not the smallest limitation number of any publication, finding an authentic signature from President Kennedy has driven up their value tremendously over the years.

So there is the list. Agree? Did we miss anything that should have been included? Let us know!

California Life Illustrated

First edition of California Life Illustrated by William Taylor. Twelvemo, 348pp. [4pp ads]. Publishers original embossed cloth, title in faded gilt on spine. Frontispiece portrait of the Golden Gate park. 16 illustrated engravings. Previous ownership signature on frontispiece. (Cowan pg. 632) (Kurutz 621a)

Comments: Reverend William Taylor (1821-1902) was an American Missionary and prolific author. He describes in detail everyday life in the tent cities, gambling halls, hotels, and the social life and “moral condition” of the miners. The wood engravings include interesting views of San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.

Life & Letters of General W.H.L. Wallace

The Life and Letters of General W.H.L. Wallace by Isabel Wallace, published in 1909 by RR Donnelley.

The Life and Letters of General W.H.L. Wallace by Isabel Wallace. Octavo, [12], 231pp. Green cloth, title in gilt on spine. Fourteen full page illustrations and frontispiece portrait of Wallace. Previous ownership inscription on front free endpaper in pen. Bookplate of noted American historian and author Peter Cozzens. A fine copy.

Comments: From historian Peter Cozzens: “…the best account of the Battle of Monterey I’ve ever read – and the early days of the Civil War.” This work on the life of General W.H.L. Wallace is an important source of material on slavery, abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy and the Mexican War. Ulysses S. Grant called General Wallace one of the best generals in the Union army. He was injured at the Battle of Shiloh and died three days later.