There are many ways to obtain a general idea as to the value of your books and other collectibles. A quick search for similar titles on abebooks.com, alibris.com, or biblio.com will provide you with a great deal of information and some idea of what the current market value seems to be. Even ebay is very useful, and can offer the added benefit of providing some idea of the current market and demand of a particular work by reviewing completed auctions and sales. But, the internet can be equally confusing and misleading, especially to someone inexperienced in the book and map world. Without a clear working knowledge of the issues of condition, edition, association, and other factors affecting the value of a book or map, it would be wise to draw on the experience of a professional dealer and appraiser. Not knowing that the typo of “peices” on page 227 of your cherished copy of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” identifies the earliest variant of the first printing of the first edition, could cost you hundreds of dollars; as could not knowing that the northeasterly flow of the Yellowstone River on the first state of Colton’s Kanzas and Nebraska map of 1855 makes it twice as valuable as the publishers reprint just a few months later.
In addition to the factual details of the item in hand, there is also the much more subjective and nebulous aspect of “Market.” Variables such as the internet; digitalization; the economy; world affairs; and more general collecting trends and interests, ALL affect the current market value of your book or other collectible. Books that sold easily for $500.00 just a few years ago, languish in bargain bins today with prices of $10.00 to $25.00. The converse is equally as true. Within the time of my collecting career, I received from a highly knowledgeable and experienced dealer a copy of the scarce Colton map described above… as wrapping paper for a book! It was of such little collectible value at that time, that the dealer found it worth more as a decorative and somewhat novel way to pack books for his customers. To make it very simple, the value of your book, map, or other collectible boils down to supply and demand.
My Qualifications: Having been raised by an antique collector and dealer, the idea of collectable and related value has been a concept ingrained in my senses of the world since childhood. My first training and career was in the field of clinical and forensic psychology where I learned the nuances of methodology and related statistics in the study of human behavior… the driving force behind assigning value. This field also exposed me to the court system and was the first of my experiences providing expert testimony. These court room experiences have overlapped and continued in my career as a book seller. As of this writing, I have more than 25 years’ experience selling books, maps, and historic documents and other ephemera with nearly that many conducting professional appraisals. Appraisal work has been provided for Presidential Libraries; State and County Historical Societies; State and smaller Universities and Colleges; as well as a host of other institutions, individuals, businesses, and estates.
Appraisal, and Related Services, I can Offer You: First, I want to emphasize that I can NOT be both an appraiser and a buyer; nor can I have any specific role in the sale of your possessions if I have been involved in appraising them. This is a very clear conflict of interest, and if anyone tells you otherwise you would certainly have good reason to question their ethics. Second, I will not assign value to your items based upon a commission or how much you will pay me. This also is a conflict of interest.
An Appraisal is a researched, legal, document, most typically created for estate, IRS, insurance, and/or court purposes. Sometimes a buyer and/or seller may have an item(s) appraised by a financially disinterested third party in order to assure either or both parties of the monetary value as a part of negotiating its sale.
A little different than a formal appraisal, though with the same ethical considerations, would be hiring me for consultation. Typically with such a service, I can examine a large number of books or other items in a relatively short period of time and give estimates as to the value of specific items, or more general estimates of collections and accumulations. Additional research, if necessary and desired, can be conducted. Such services will generally not include any type of formal write up or estimate on my part, though the needs of each project are individually assessed. This service is frequently utilized when someone has inherited, or otherwise acquired, a collection which they know little about and just want a general idea of the overall value and/or if there are any parts of significant value.
Finally, I like to buy… individual items and/or whole collections. I will always be happy to examine what you have, and if you wish to sell it, talk with you about that option. In such cases, I will always try to discuss what you have and to answer your questions in a general manner as to value. But, if I am a buyer, that is my role and we must both be very aware that I do not represent the books, estate, or the seller. But, I will treat you fairly and make offers based upon my ability to purchase similarly valued items through other venues.
My fees for appraisal and/or consultation work are $75.00 per hour, with a one hour minimum. I charge the same for travel time if I am not within ten miles of my destination, and on rare occasions will charge for other expenses incurred (i.e. lodging, photo copies, etc.). Charges apply whether you are happy with the appraised/estimated value or not, and in all honesty, many people are disappointed. I assign value based upon the variables discussed above and not to make you happy. In all cases, I will tell you my opinion before starting to charge for billable hours (except for travel time or other fees already incurred, if any), and if I feel that the value is not worth having an appraisal, I will tell you. I can also give you a rough estimate of the time involved and thus the costs. My fees are non-negotiable for work consisting of less than ten hours, though beyond that may be depending upon the time and nature of the work.
FREE ESTIMATES: I am always happy to give you my opinion. If you have one or two items, feel free to contact me with your questions. I prefer that you do so by email, along with a succinct and detailed description, and several (not lots) of clear photographs. As time permits, I will respond as quickly as I can. But please be polite and keep in mind that I am NOT a public service. This is my job and how I pay the rent. In some cases, I might even ask you to bring the item to me so I can examine it in person… Even after 25 years I have not seen everything, and sometimes it is rewarding enough for me just to see a real treasure.