Early Edition of the Little Red Book Put for Auction

A delicate relic of Chinese history is up for sale. Read on to learn more about the contentious artifact and its value.

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Book jacket of Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong is pasted over a photo of a judge sitting at a desk with a gavel on the right.

A scarce, early version of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book is set to be sold by Chiswick Auctions, an auction house in London, England. Officially designated as Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, the first releases were published in 1963 by a regional political department before becoming published by the People’s Liberation Army, whose goal was to expand the spread of Mao Zedong’s philosophy. American seller Justin Schiller should expect the irreplaceable artifact from the era of the Cultural Revolution to go for sale for at least $30,000.

Impact of Mao’s Legacy

The book, a collection of quotes from the infamous leader, served as the blueprint for Mao Zedong’s politics, which changed the course of Chinese history and outlined the momentum behind the Cultural Revolution. Events of the Cultural Revolution incited mass violence, political expulsions, and millions of deaths to help Zedong establish order and control of the Chinese Communist Party. The brutal social and political unrest ignited by Mao Zedong has been praised by China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, who saw it as a determination to bring happiness and prosperity to China and its citizens.

Book jacket of Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong. A yellow star its below the title on a bright red background.

Possible Controversy

Justin Schiller’s expansive collection of artifacts from the Cultural Revolution and China’s past was primarily obtained by a Beijing seller who traded her collection for $40,000. The artifacts were shipped in three separate containers, all from different shipping ports, and after several weeks, they arrived at Justin Schiller’s without suspicion from China.

A dictionary page with the words "Ethics" bolded.

Additionally, unsuspecting flea market vendors provided Schiller with invaluable Chinese Communist Party memorabilia for sometimes less than a dollar. Some have blamed him of capitalizing on and glorifying a killer, which Schiller reasons with his honest intention of historical education.

According to Schiller, many auctioneers are hesitant to trade historical Chinese artifacts for fear of criticism from the Chinese government. Chiswick Auctions themselves have scaled back operations in the country despite buyers’ interests. The collection with the Little Red Book, though, has yet to be verified in authenticity.

Moral complexities surrounding the ethical collection of artifacts and memorabilia around polarizing topics remain in debate between collectors and citizens of the affected area. Nonetheless, invaluable items such as the Little Red Book are vital in gaining knowledge about our past and learning from it to create a better future.

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