Rare Book Valuation
How I Do That
"How Much Is It Worth?"
“How much is it (my rare book I found) worth?” is the point of this essay to most readers and although that is the last of my concerns when I find a rare book I do absolutely here-now default to this “how much is it worth” populist fixation by going right here right now so that that (the ‘how much is it worth’) of how I do valuation... this will be answered and the reader will be done reading and may now go out successfully finding a rare book that is valuable and... sell it for a lot of money. Good luck in advance with this last ‘lot of money’ too.
I am going to bring in a rare book right here to use as a specimen of guidance. I’m going to bring the book in with no explaining of any sort about the book and its rare-book-ness. This is because this essay is about its title; Rare Book Valuation. How I Do That. It is not about what a rare book is or how I find it, know it is one, purloin it and, of course, sell it. No. This essay is, at this point, about valuation (commonly stated as “VALUE” and “VALUABLE”). In Part One I clearly stated that one must know what a rare book looks like and that means more... ground rules... ‘over there’. Restating that here it means that one must know... more ground rules ‘over there... that define what a rare book is. That has nothing to do with rare book valuation. At this point.
Placing the rare book in view, it is Allerton’s Brook Trout Fishing published in New York in 1869. That is all you get right now and is also... all you need... to... “FIND OUT” “HOW VALUABLE” it (this book) “IS”. Even the most advanced collector needs only this scant information to find out this “HOW VALUABLE” this book is. In fact they need even less. I... in offering a copy for sale would do that by mentioning that I have “a **** copy of Allerton for sale for (price stated)”. The little foursome of stars is where I may... at my vanity choice... puff a condition state such as “collector grade” (condition). Unusually I don’t even do that for ...condition... as well as ‘all else’ with a true rare book should be obvious to a collector-dealer’s eye. OH am I saying I sell two thousand dollar books with under six words of promotion? Yes that is right. If a ‘you’ is truly in the market to buy... they and I both know this and that they do know what book I just spoke of. If they are NOT in the market they ‘never hear’... ANYTHING about the book. So one such has you has to find out “HOW VALUABLE” an “ALLERTON” is all by yourself. And here
Is how I do that:
At my work station, with an old computer, in my office, I pick up the Allerton and open the internet on my computer to “ABE” (Advanced Book Exchange); its ‘find book’ blank. I type “Allerton” at the author line and “Brook Trout” at the title line. And click ‘find book’. Search results show many copies of the book starting with the lowest priced copy. I want the highest priced copy so I re-format the listings to show that first. Then I quickly scroll down the listing looking for ‘a copy like mine’. I find one... two... three... many(?) copies. I look at their for sale prices, decide which of these... “VALUATIONS” I like best and... go with that and... am done for I know now how “VALUABLE” my ...or is it ‘the’’... book is. Right?
The ‘the’ noted above is to accommodate the most popular usage of this valuation process done simply in the field using a smart phone and never needing to actually own the old book. THIS PROCESS is pandemic and is a constant right in front of me used without reserve. I must note right here... though... and as stated above... the Allerton is never seen by these ‘rare book dealers’ for I do not show it to them. My relations with this valuation process and its fellow travelers is confined to books I know are not rare and that the accommodating they, by use of this process, conclude the ‘old rare books’ I offer in sight ARE ‘rare’ “ENOUGH” “AT THAT PRICE” (my ‘the book is for sale’ price) that they... most often times ...will buy it (the not rare book that they ‘LOOKED UP’ and decided that for the price it is a “GOOD DEAL”). Everyone is happy with this process of valuation and... the amount of cash commerce it creates should NOT be underestimated... when selling old books... “I FOUND” books that are NOT RARE but... ‘using the internet’ are found to be “VALUABLE”.
A fun twist on this... just for the record? Dealers often list on the internet ‘find books’ sites their copy of a not rare book at a high price, particularly if it is a single copy with no other copies listed for sale so that a copy of the book IS hung out for sale and they then...
Peddle their physical copy on the street corners of the trade for about a quarter of the listed price. At that price... with smart phone verification of a ‘copy’ ‘for sale’... it DOES SELL. Then the vending dealer takes the internet listing ‘down’ because it
But this is what I said it is; a fun twist... to keep in mind.
If the book’s (the Allerton) valuation is not found to ones satisfaction on ABE, one should try Book Finder. This is a larger search field so finds even more copies of Allerton for sale. Just to be ‘hot tipping’, I routinely do a full bore Google search (‘Allerton Brook Trout’) too to bring up everything and anything about the book... ‘just to see’. I realize that I have already found out... and shown you how... the VALUE of the Allerton so... this last flirt with Google... is personal vanity.
Or is it? Keep that in mind too.
Some other tippings: The smart phone takes pictures so many times that rare book buying-by-smart phone user will want to ‘take a picture or two or sixteen... of the book and specially the title page so as to... be able to ‘look it up more later’ and... often times... add it to their inventory of books THEY have for sale. YES one may give a dip shit like this one hundred thousand dollars of inventory by letting them ‘take pictures’. Better keep that in mind. I allow ‘no pictures’ of ANYTHING and anything that does get a picture taken is mostly an ‘okay it is not a rare’ book anyway. But... I don’t make a living for dip shits as a general policy. Now that you know about valuation you... don’t need to either. Right?
This valuation process finds its equal in the ‘fine arts’ and ‘paintings’ (commercial) arena too. It, in that subject is run the same way and... basically... has made a mess out of the stupid and cruddy art and painting market. There are there, too, a lot of quasi dealer valuation people real smart phone savvy so... keep that in mind if your “going into paintings”. For example, I have been selling paintings for fifty years and apply the same rare book stock management to my ‘fine arts’ findings too.
Having all sorts of people show me all kinds of photographs of all kinds of crud on their smart phones all the time....: It is a very big way of being ‘a dealer’. As most all of the actual objects are... actually crud... this smart phone thing perpetually has trouble gaining traction in the marketing of, for this essay, a true rare book. For me it has become an automatic red herring that may be used with considerable craft to “move” lesser grade ‘rare books’ based on a false valuation preception; the “a copy of my rare book I found is for sale on ABE for **** !”.
“Do you want to buy it?”
Better keep that in mind.
At the end of this “HOW VALUABLE” chapter that flaunts the internet rare books marketplace as the popular and standard of ‘go to’ in the current rare books for sale vending options... the road divides; becomes a valuation fork in the valuation road. One way has been described above while a second vantage of the same process... may be noted and then taken in... for rare book valuation that has more consequential value placement from right within that very same internet ‘find book’ smart phone brush by.
Could it be that when I look up a book on the ABE I am actually looking... ever harder... to NOT find the book or ANY copies of it available (‘for sale’) anywhere... no matter how hard and long (2 years) I hunt. I include here the casual note that a lone copy in the Library of Congress and / or other stand alone libraries (Harvard, Brown, New York Public), particularly with my copy being in better (collector grade) condition, are actually helpful discernments for these copies show that the rare book is “known”. Sort of. Anyway, the topic title for this rare book being noticed here is ‘no copy located’. For example, I seek “Allerton, Brook Trout, NY, 1869, no copy located (for sale) with copies in a handful in institutional collections. Throw in ‘damaged’ and ‘ex-library’ to that mix and my Allerton in collector grade condition is seeming to be “better” if I ‘NOT find’ the book?
Yes. The longer it takes to ‘locate’ a copy and too, that copy being the ‘for sale’ also (at a stated price), the ever more ‘rare’ my rare book may become. Stating this reversing: If a rare book has numerous copies of itself for sale... it is not a rare book for “You can find one” (a copy for sale). My rare book world and its ‘valuation’ is over beside the “No Copy Located” fork in the road. I advise that one should ‘take a look’ at this sort of ‘valuation’ should one actually seek... a rare book.