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To be sure, the books from Franklin Library - bound in full or quart leather and printed in acid-free papers with all edges gilt, and sometimes the true first editions or signed, or both - are of higher quality than today's ridiculously priced paperbacks printed on crap paper that yellow in a matter of months.

But one lament commonly heard from Franklin-phile is that Franklin books do not appreciate in value. For one, Franklin Library was messy in its publication history, and printed numerous titles repeatedly under different series. Two, Franklin Library abused "Limited Edition", a term liberally applied to a lot of its books, often with no specification of print size, and judging from their abundance on Abebooks and eBay, it is likely they are not that limited to start. Inflation leads invariably to devaluation.

Notwithstanding these issues, there are collectible Franklins but their prices continue to be capped in the low hundreds at best.

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As the names imply, the former are unsigned first editions while the latter are signed first editions, making them more desirable and expensive. To illustrate the differences, we will use Philip Roth's Zuckerman books. They are the true first editions, but with facsimile signature rather than actual holograph. Toni Morrison's "Tar Baby" was also published under this series. Later titles were published under the "Signed Limited Edition" series with subtle chronological differences.

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For the earlier titles like "The Anatomy Lessons", Roth signed a blank page and there was still no information on the print size. Starting from "American Pastoral", the signature was made on the limitation page, and the colophon stated the printing size. In spite of the first edition and signed status, most of these books sell at price levels that hardly justify a "desirable" tag, let alone a "collectible" one. Books from this series were signed by the authors but were not the first edition. Again, Franklin Library claimed that these books are limited without mentioning the print size.

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Of this series, there are at least two, likely three, variants. Nobody is certain if the titles in this series were published in all three variant forms, but they appeared in at least two.

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At the top of the range is the deluxe, full genuine leather version with elaborate front board design and heavier gilt book on right. At the bottom range is the quarter leather version book on left with plain board design and lighter gilt. For some titles, there seemed to be an intermediate full leather, likely faux, version with less majestic front board design. Humboldt's Gift by Saul Bellow. Fully Indexed. The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Psychology by William James. Of Plymouth Plantation - by William Bradford. The Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Pragmatism by William James.

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An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Eugene O'Neill Four Plays.

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Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. George Holden. Signed Limited Editions 60 in the series These are perhaps the most beautiful of the Franklin editions and certainly the most expensive. Each volume is bound in beautiful, plush full leather, with all the normal Franklin finery, and the author's signature was protected with an unattached tissue insert, which most copies still have.

For those of you who are curious about irrelevant details like me , I did a little analysis of the Signed First Edition list to find which authors were most published. Another seven authors each had 3. I often get questions as to which Franklins are the most collectible. This is harder to answer.

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Franklin has hit a lot of home runs by featuring Signed First Editions which went on to win major awards, including several Pulitzer Prize winners. These are always good collectibles. Also very popular are most of their Signed Limited Edition reprints. Finally, there are a lot of what I consider underpriced Franklins out there which I am always looking for which should make a great investment.

The following is a listing of those Franklins all signed First or Limited Editions which have maintained a high value over the years. These are books which the original collectors are keeping and which are seldom offered on the market. When they are, they are usually snatched up by another collector to disappear again from the marketplace for years.

Any of these are well worth the investment if you can find one at a reasonable price. Signed First Editions. Franklin Mystery Series. Collected Stories of the Worlds Greatest Writers.

World's Best-Loved Books. Aesop: Aesop's Fables Trans. Advise and Consent. Allen Drury. Agony and the Ecstasy. Irving Stone. All the King's Men. Robert Penn Warren. The Caine Mutiny. Herman Wouk. Leon Uris. Rabbit Run. John Updike.

The Rector of Justin. Louis Auchincloss. A Stillness at Appomattox. Bruce Catton. The Affluent Society. John Kenneth Galbraith. A Bell For Adano. John Hersey.