Ten Valuable Kurt Vonnegut Jr. First Edition Books & Collectibles
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Ten Valuable Kurt Vonnegut Jr. First Edition Books & Collectibles

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922-2007) was the best-selling author of such literary gems as Slaughterhouse-Five, Player Piano, Breakfast of Champions and The Sirens of Titan. Valuable Kurt Vonnegut Jr. memorabilia includes first edition books, autographs, high school yearbooks and Collier's Weekly magazines.

Indianapolis-born Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922-2007) was one of the literary lions of his era. A World War II veteran who witnessed the Allied fire bombing of Dresden in 1945 while a prisoner of war, Vonnegut published his first short story "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" in the February 11, 1950, edition of Collier's Weekly. Two years later in 1952, Vonnegut's first novel Player Piano was published by Charles Scribner's Sons. An avowed humanist, Vonnegut enjoyed a highly successful literary career, deftly employing satire, gallows humor and science fiction/fantasy in his work.

Here are ten valuable Kurt Vonnegut Jr. first edition books and collectibles. "If you can do a half-assed job in anything, you're a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Player Piano (1952) First Edition

Player Piano, published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1952, marked the debut of novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. At 295 pages, Player Piano is set in the dystopian future where machines have largely replaced humans in the workplace. A first edition in good condition with restored dust jacket sold at auction for $262.90. George W. Thompson executed the dust jacket's artwork.

Player Piano 1952 first edition $262.90

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) First Edition

Often cited as Kurt Vonnegut's greatest novel, Slaughterhouse-Five was published by Delacorte Press in 1969. At the center of the book's slim 186 pages is Vonnegut's experiences in World War II where he survived the fire bombing of Dresden while housed as a POW in an underground meat locker the Germans called Schlachthof Fünf a.k.a. Slaughterhouse Five. A first edition in near fine condition in a near pristine dust jacket brought $1,553.50 at auction.

Slaughterhouse-Five 1969 first edition $1,553.50

Cat's Cradle (1963) First Edition

Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut's fourth novel, was published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston in 1963. The book is pure Vonnegut, taking on science, technology, organized religion and the arms race in his witty, unique style. A first edition in very good condition with its dust jacket fetched a top bid of $334.60 at auction.

Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday (1973) First Edition

Breakfast of Champions was published by Delacorte Press in 1973. At 295 pages, the novel is a potpourri of bizarre undertakings buttressed by the author's own illustrations. A first edition in near fine condition with its all-important dust jacket sold at auction for $95.60.

Kurt Vonnegut 1940 High School Senior Yearbook

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. spent his high school years at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Vonnegut's 1940 senior yearbook The Shortridge Annual carries a value of approximately $350. A celebrity's senior edition is often the most valuable yearbook in his/her high school career. Vonnegut appears in at least three photos, including ones for the Student Council and something called the Uglyman contest.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 1940 senior yearbook photo in The Shortridge Annual $350

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine (1965) First Edition

Holt, Rinehart and Winston published God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater in 1965. The novel's 217 pages centers on Eliot Rosewater, who controls the Rosewater Foundation, a philanthropic institution which becomes the target of a greedy family lawyer. A first edition in very good condition with its dust jacket brought $262.90 at auction.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater first edition $262.90

Kurt Vonnegut 2007 Autographed The Writer's Desk Calendar

A 2007 The Writer's Desk Calendar signed by Kurt Vonnegut, Jill Krementz, Michael Cunningham and John Guare sold at auction for $89.63. Author/photographer Krementz was Vonnegut's second wife.

The Sirens of Titan (1962) British First Edition

The Sirens of Titan was first published in the United Kingdom by Victor Gollancz Ltd. in 1962. Nominated for a Hugo Award, the sci-fi novel is set in the 22nd century and centers on a Martian invasion of Earth. The Sirens of Titan first appeared in both hardcover and paperback in the United States in 1959. A 1962 British first edition in very good condition with its dust jacket and the rare publisher's promotional band intact sold at auction for $239.

The Sirens of Titan 1962 British first edition $239

Slapstick (1976) Signed First Edition

Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! was published by Delacorte Press in 1976. Using science fiction/fantasy as his literary device, Slapstick explores Vonnegut's grief for his sister Alice who died of cancer in 1958. A signed first edition in fine condition with its dust jacket brought $155.35 at auction.

Slapstick signed first edition $155.35

Collier's Weekly, September 2, 1950, "Thanasphere" Short Story

Kurt Vonnegut's science fiction short story "Thanasphere" appears in the September 2, 1950, edition of Collier's Weekly. An issue in excellent condition is valued at approximately $15-20. "Thanasphere" later appeared in Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1999).

Kurt Vonnegut Memorabilia Credits & Top Image

  • All auction results, values and images courtesy Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas
  • Top image: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. signed first edition books Hocus Pocus (1990) and Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction (1999) $358.50

Copyright © 2011 William J. Felchner

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Comments (3)

Imagine the time he spent in writing those books.

One of my ex wife's favorite authors.

A fine tribute to an excellent author with your great list of collectibles.

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