We were thumbing through a copy of Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader’s Companion by Dilys Winn, 1977, and came across a chapter from mystery collector extraordinaire Otto Penzler. Penzler remembered the days when few persons collected mysteries. Then came along John Carter’s book, New Paths in Book Collecting, published in 1934, and collecting mysteries became a serious endeavor. Penzler went on about how now (now being 1977) hard-boiled authors were in vogue, and as a consequence, first editions “have skyrocketed in price. The Maltese Falcon, for example, recently sold for an outrageous $750. Five years ago, the asking price was $35.”
A month or so ago, we received a catalog from Royal Books in Baltimore offering a copy of The Maltese Falcon for a mere $90,000. The guy who paid the outrageous $750 in 1977 must be smiling today.