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