An association copy is a copy of a book that has some connection, often personal, to the author or to someone closely associated with the author. A book was either owned by its author, owned by someone connected to the author, or owned by someone connected to the book’s contents. This copy is usually more valuable in the book world than a regular one, especially if the association is documented. Proof of the association is usually in the form of some written notes.
The most valuable ones are those that belong to the author or someone closely connected to the author, such as a family member, friend, or editor. These copies often have inscriptions or annotations by the author or the person to whom the author gifted the book. They may also have interesting provenance, such as being part of an author’s working library or being passed down through a family.
There are two main types of Association Copy: those with a direct association with the author and those with an indirect association. A direct association would be a copy owned or read by the author, while an indirect association would be a copy owned or read by someone close to the author, such as a family member or friend.
Whether or not it is considered an association copy depends on the collector or dealer. Some collectors and dealers are only interested in copies with a strong connection to the author or the book, while others are interested in any copy with any connection, no matter how tenuous.
They can be found for sale at book fairs, online, and through dealers specializing in rare books. Prices vary depending on the association’s strength and the book’s condition.
Whether a book is a first edition or a later edition, an Association Copy is always a valuable addition to any collection. For the dedicated collector, an Association Copy is the Holy Grail.