By Bill Pearlman
This is a huge subject, far to great to cover in depth in this article, but hopefully we can cover the surface. Collecting printed test is one of the world’s greatest hobbies. Remember that printed text has been around for more than 500 years. So what makes printed things valuable?
- Importance – first editions of literature. Either historical, scientific, or inventions.
- Scarcity – Limited copies that are Messed or censored material. Print without important test or distinguishing characteristics have little value.
- Age by itself is not enough to make print items valuable. Condition and demand will determine value. The most sought after would be printing before 1501. English printed before 1641 and the America’s before 1801 (West of the Mississippi before 1850).
- Condition is graded from new down to poor.
- Rare books, manuscripts and maps turn up everywhere. They are portable, are often found in private libraries, attics, basements, garage sales, and the internet.
- What is not rare: Bibles, sermons, and religious instructions. collected editions of an author’s Work. encyclopedias, textbooks, and reprints. With the exception of the collectable dates previously mentioned.
- Is the material signed by the author/maker. Generally these do not command much additional value. Presentation and association copies may command a greater value. Unfortunately there are many forged copies out there.
- Old letters. scrapbooks. photographs and documents of famous people and events are of greater value.
- Of particular interest today are hand colored books and maps. These usually have to date in the mid l9th century to be of interest.
To determine the actual value of rare books, manuscripts, maps, and signatures is a specialized area because there have been literally hundreds of millions of printed or written material, no one person or organization will have all of the information needed to make a determination. However, the internet has made research much easier today. The knowledge and expertise to know where to find the answers on the internet is what I’m able to offer you.
If we don’t know the answer, we know someone who does.