Hells Buyer
A lot of people get confused when trying to tell the difference between a Random House 1st edition, 1st – 7th print of Hells Angels, and a book club edition. Someone can get stung badly by buying one of these from a dishonest seller, or buying it from someone and thinking you are getting a bargain. I hope to clear up some issues about this.
Random House did 7 printings of Hells Angels. All the regular Hells Angels have a statement of printed edition on the copyright page. It will say First printing, Second Printing or Third Printing or Fourth Printing etc.
All of the above prints will have a SILVER MOTORCYCLE on the front cover (not on the dust jacket) of the book. They will also have a BLACK STAIN on the top closed edge of the book. On the front inside flap of the dust jacket on the top there will be a price (maybe it will be clipped) mine is priced $4.95, and on the bottom there will be 1/67. If the book has no dust jacket it will be no where near as valuable a one with a dust jacket, as a general rule having no dust jacket can cut the value in half but bare in mind there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to this, although it does apply a lot of the time.
I have been told but cannot absolutely verify this yet…”The first 2 print runs of the regular Random House Hells Angels the  1st printing & 2nd printing were reportedly runs of 5000 copies.  5 thousand each printing. I emailed Random House regarding this and as soon as I hear back from them I will confirm it here. 5000 is a very low print run and makes the 1st and 2nd printings very rare.  One more thing. All the Random House Hells Angels are slightly larger and thicker than the book club editions.
The book club editions or BCE. The very early BCE will have the silver motorcycle on the front cover but will not have the black stain on the top closed edge, but it will have a RED stain on the top closed edge. And the later BCE will have a RED motorcycle on the front cover. The easy way to tell the difference without opening the book is this if there is no black stain on the top closed edge of the book it is a BCE. All of  the BCE have no specific statement of a printed edition on copyright page. They say “copyright 1966/67”. Nothing else, no first printing etc. The dust jacket on the BCE has “Book Club Edition” on the front inside lower part of the flap.
I hope this is a help and no one gets fleeced when on the hunt for this holy grail of books. The pictures below are of my copy of Hells Angels 2nd print, just so you can physically see what i am talking about.
Here is a Book Club Edition I found for sale on the web. The seller does not say that it is a Book Club Edition, maybe he or she does not know, but it shows you have to be careful. Note on the copyright page the absence of the 1st edition etc

Join the conversation! 15 Comments

  1. Thank you! This was very helpful as I am trying to accumulate HST on a budget. This book club form was an okay start and it is $80 and in perfect condition. Recently found and bought a first edition Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72 for $250.00 in good condition for my birthday here in Canada.

  2. What is the Value of a 1966 BCE of this book? i cant seem to find that info anywhere on the web. Thanks! It has the dust cover and is in very good condition.

  3. It depends on a couple of things. What color is the top-stain on the book? The very early BCE’s have Black stain. And the Regular, later ones have Red. I bought my one for $30 it has a red top-stain.

  4. do you know what the value of a “first printing – silver motorcycle – black stain – 1/67” book is ??

  5. It depends on the condition. If its near perfect you could expect to pay up to 700 bucks, but that is only if its near fine condition. I.E no chips, bumps, tears, nicks,page discoloring etc and a crisp clean dust jacket. Let me know the condition and I’ll be able to tell you more.

  6. it is in pretty good condition. the pages are aged, but still very good. The dust cover has a small tear on the back side. Considering the age of the book. I would say the condition is very good.

  7. can anyone tell me the value of hells angels the strange and terrible saga of the outlaw motorcycle gangs by hunter s thompson also signed by james dick

  8. I have a first edition hardback that is green cloth and has the title in silver on the spine, but not silver motorcycle on the front. Any information about this edition would be greatly appreciated.

  9. Sent you a email regarding this.

  10. Like giantnar, I have a 1966, 1967 “first printing” edition that doesn’t have the silver motorcycle on the cover, only the title and authors name on the spine in silver- but the cloth is either purple or a faded black. Mine also has the dust cover with the 4.95 in corner, but no 1/67 like yours. Any ideas? Thanks!

  11. Next question for you. I have a Book Club hard cover edition(all details as mentioned above, red motorcycle, red dye), that is Signed by HST.. Any idea what that would be worth? Bought it about 5 years ago. thanks :+)

  12. Hi,
    I have an old version of this book & it has “1st printing” on the inside but it is not signed by Hunter but it is signed by Sonny Barger (he was/is the president of the Hell’s Angels) so I was wondering how I can find how much it would be worth.


  13. BCE edition with the silver motorcycle what years were they publish . I have a copy from
    A library in SD. Red at the top 1966 1967 and how many we’re made and years. Thanks and maybe the value . Wish I had a early edition maybe a 1st print one day

  14. The BCE (book club edition) you describe, with silver motorcycle and red top stain is a very early edition. 1967 I believe. Also fairly scarce. Im not sure how many were printed. I don’t give valuations due to various folks moaning and whining about my valuation. I stopped because life’s too short .. I’ll tell you this much. If I didn’t have one and yours was in perfect condition, I’d offer 150 bucks.

  15. Thanks very much for the update

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About Marty

A long time fan of Hunter S. Thompson and long time book collector. Gentleman and a scholar. A pillar of society. A fine judge of wine and everything that ennobles the human struggle.


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