Rare Books

Collecting the Wisden Cricketers Almanack

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack

It’s the most famous yellow book in the world. Published every year since 1864, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack is a sporting institution and it’s still going strong as influential and essential as ever.

Founded by John Wisden, who played cricket for Sussex, Kent and Middlesex, the book represents the height of collectable cricketing memorabilia. Even two world wars could not prevent its publication and today Wisden is the longest running sports annual in history.

However, short print runs, particularly in the early years, have affected availability of certain editions on the secondhand market. Prices for some editions stretch to four and five figures. Luckily, you can still find very collectable editions without looking for copies more than 100 years old – a collection of 56 Wisdens (1950-2005) was sold on AbeBooks for £900 in 2007.

Most of the highly valued editions are in the hands of collectors and rarely enter the open market. However, Michael Gauntlett from Ian Dyer Cricket Books in North Yorkshire, England, has kindly listed the 10 most collectable Wisdens in chronological order along with his current estimated market values:

1864 – The first ever issue of Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack. It had 112 pages, was padded out with non-cricket information and cost one shilling or five pence (£20,000)

1865 – Second issue that describes the 1864 season in which over-arm bowling was legalized (£10,000-15,000)

1869 – A team of Australian Aboriginals become the first overseas side to tour England in 1968 (£15,000)

1875 – A shorter print run than previous years means these copies are scarce (£25,000)

1896 – The first hardback edition (£25,000-£30,000)

1897-99 - These early hardbacks also command higher than average prices (£5,000 per year)

1916 – This edition contains the obituaries of cricket legends WG Grace and Victor Trumper, hardback copies are highly coveted (£10,000)

1934 - Record of England’s highly controversial ‘Bodyline’ tour of Australia in 1932-33, again the hardback edition is more valuable. Editor Sydney Southerton attacks Bodyline bowling, writing: "I deplore its introduction and pray for its abolition" (£2,000)

1940-41 - Limited number of hardback copies were printed due to war rationing, only 800 copies of the 1941 issue were published (£2,000 per year)