Friday, January 12, 2018

Rare Book Valuation How I Do That Part Two "How Much Is It Worth?"

Rare  Book Valuation

How I Do That

Part Two

"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
            “Did sell”.
            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.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Rare Book Valuation How I Do That Part One "Ground Rules"

Rare Book Valuation

How I Do That

Part One

"Ground Rules"

            The stupidest old book (“RARE BOOK”) query I am asked is not “DO YOU HAVE A COPY?” of one single book that the ask-E wants; a one book.  A ‘one book’ they “want”.
I acquire old books from attic floors and dead scholar – collector’s libraries, their offices and... ‘book dens’.  I am not a ‘do you have’ one particular book.  At one point I had five warehouse units full of matching taped closed cardboard boxes of books (containing 40 to 44 books each) with those books in the boxes being a “I have never looked at”.  Eventually I did look at each book in each box at least very, very briefly and then... sold them.  Every now and then I’d find an actual rare book doing this (look very briefly at each book).  At the end of that; a my professional rare book epoch, I sold “all the books”.  We estimated that “all” to be five hundred and forty-seven thousand old (“RARE”) books.  All were sold.  But:
            To this day I have a constant gatherings of hundreds (usually around 360) of matching cardboard boxes full and taped shut of old (“RARE”) books... at any point in my time as an active... wait for it... “RARE BOOK DEALER”.  The result is that I do not have nor would ever know I have, the ‘that’ one book that ... YOU... “want”.  I am still asked “anyway”.

            The stupidest question actually is... to know (no) surprise... “HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH!” (an exclamatory sentence; NOT a question) with this usually relative to a single old book held of hand being right then foisted toward me to... ahhhh.... take (and “look at”).  I don’t do either of those and that old book may then fall from free space to the floor (dropped).  Don’t worry:  In my realm of antiquarian bibliomania books in freefall are a constant as are piles of old books on the floor.  If I am in the mood of antiquarian book adroit, I may add that their old book is worth “one dollar”.  But the long term effort of that utterance has radically curtailed me ‘even saying that’.
            Good enough?
            “How Much is My Rare Book Worth?”
            That’s right:  This one never goes away.  Followed by “How do you know that?” and “How do you do that?” should I actually speak a valuation (“one dollar”). All that (‘this’... for it is on-going) is a ground rule
            For understanding how I... I ‘valuation’ of a ‘rare book’
            Most; that full vastness of old books, are not... a... rare books.  They are at best a used old book that no one wants.  That is a ground rule.  Apply it yourself:  When you find an old book that for a fleeting moment you engage that it is a ‘rare’ ‘old’ ‘book’... drop it on the floor and walk away from ALL OF THIS; rare books and their valuation.  You don’t have a rare book.  You do not even have a ‘good’ ‘old’ book.  I don’t care what you say. You don’t.  Walk from it... after dropping it and
            Shutting up.  Too.

When I have the taped closed boxes of old used books I, when I am ‘going through’ ‘a box’ “very fast” (a shallow glance at each book) may discern a possible old book that possibly could be a possible rare book.  Possibly.  Maybe.  That is a ground rule.
When someone foists a their book at me to, for them, grant a valuation... with additional verification that the lone tome is a ‘rare book’... AS WAS THINK IT BE too I do not value and verify.  Nor do I think.  Think does not work well for true rare books.  I use feel; I FEEL as to if an old book is rare.  Don’t bother to think about feeling all this. All this is a ground Rule

            The forest and the trees are getting thicker?  Cannot see.  Cannot feel.  Cannot think.  One finds oneself in a warehouse perpetually full of at least three hundred plain taped shut matching cardboard boxes of ‘never looked at’ old books that are not rare books even if a you “thinks” a “THIS ONE”... “is”.  This is a ground rule.  And... I am not there to help you.  I have my own boxes of books to look at.  Why would I care about your boxes of old books.  This, too, is a ground rule

            Ground rules are good.  By using them one may avoid “waste of time”.  That is what happens to an old book you foist at me and, until it drops to the floor and you shut-up and go away, is what it is as a rare book; it is a ‘waste of time’.  THAT is a ground rule too.  I like ground rules.  They are a splendid trail through the trees and forest of old used books that help me to easily discern an old RARE book.
            There is not a booklet of ground rules for one to study and refer to. Ground rules are learned one by one painfully slowly caused by actual usage of discovered ground rules used to apply to the ground rule ‘waste of time’.  It will probably take you at least a few thousand boxes of old books you think and feel about before ground rules and their applications become “transparent”.  Do not worry: I will not interfere with your thoughts and feelings as you, as we old rare book dealers say “come along”.
            “OMG are we getting?”
            Yes we are and
            WHY.  Because YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW what a rare book looks like and
            IS A GROUND RULE TOO.  You’ve never seen one, never bought one, never sold one, “don’t know”, “THINK”, don’t FEEL and “foist” all that while failing to shut-up too.
            THIS IS A GROUND RULE.
            As a summarial ground rule I, as a rare book hunter and finder ‘get rid of you’... for... you and your accumulations of old (RARE!) books are abhorrent and ‘a waste of time’.  I and rare books never have anything to do with you.  Ever.  That too is a ground rule.

            This makes for a restless sleep on your part should you wish feverishly to be a rare book hunter; a finder of rare books.  Add ‘seller’ of rare books on to this as a tale (tail) and... one is lost in the trees and forests of rare books... with no ground rule guidance booklet and, in most all cases, no actual rare book ever.  You do... do ‘foist’ old books declared rare... very well and many such persona DO percolate along doing that in the sight of someone like me for... often times... generational time frames.  That is another ground rule. And is a very much there of my every day. Having ‘an idiot’ around who ‘thinks’ they know ‘a lot’ about ‘rare books’ is a normal ground rule for me.  And I guess that if that sort is you... then you are an active part of that ground rule too.  This brings us... tied by rope to each other and flashing our fighting knives... to a need to distinguish why I am different from you.  It is about the rare book I hold...:  It IS a rare book.  The one you hold is NOT a rare book.  I will sell mine.  You will not sell yours.  This is another ground rule.

            To explore ‘rare book valuation’ and ‘how I do it’ one must know what a rare book... ahhhh.... “LOOKS LIKE”.  It is, you know, a ‘dog looks like a dog’ – a ‘cat looks like a cat’ quandary that is easy to resolve should one follow the ground rules of ‘that’ (what does a rare book looks like).  That’s right:  More ground rules... “over there”.  Your getting close.  Probably this getting close will be you being right there with a rare book before you and... you passing over it... without ever knowing it is there.  The reverse of this is that the more ground rules you know about what a rare book looks like the more rare books one sees and finds and, eventually, sells.  Yes... another ground rule in this somewhere.  Right?  Oh don’t bother yourself with all of this for it must by now be clearly hinting that the ‘doing this’ is... well.... “work”.  And of course this ‘is work’ is a ground rule too.
            Are you mired?  Up to your hubs?  Come now just sit down and stop sobbing and wipe you eyes and understand that all the books you ‘like’ up to now are not rare books and finding out that and what a rare books is (“LOOKS LIKE”); what that critter looks like AND what the rare book hunter finders looks like too... and well... there is no roadside assistance out here in rare book wilderness (trees and forest) so you gonna have to give up your know it all freedoms and subjugate your self as a lesser being... one subjugated to rare books.  This is too... a ground rule. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Teddy Squirrel 1946-2017

Teddy Squirrel 1946-2017

            “Teddy come in the shop the other day.  Noth’en:  Brought noth’en IN.  BOUGHT noth’en.  Took noth’en OUT.  WORTHLESS as the day I was BORN.  He’s in pretty bad shape you know.  Not just FAT but CAN’T DO noth’en.  Huff and puff over to his chair.  Biggest damn chair I got.  He don’t even know what THAT IS.”
            (The “chair” is a transitional New England Sheraton wingchair circa 1825.  It’s the last gasp of the true period; “of a design period”, wingchair.  ‘Heavy’; carrying these late lines, it is actually a rare New England form to find for the wingchair ‘died out’ as a design form with the Empire and then Victorian period styles ‘seating’ innovations.  Not that Teddy would know or care).
            “He sat in that damn chair eating Gingerbread Men.  Six of ‘em.  Offered one to me.  I said NO.  First he eats their feet.  Then one bite on their crotch.  Two bites for the arms.  Then one bite for the head just like that’s a fifty cent piece.  Always offers me one whatever it is.  Mostly molasses cookies.  Sometimes a Hermit.  He likes those you knows.  Says (local one of two Brunswick Maine area box store grocery bakeries) ‘MAKE A GOOD HERMIT’.  Sumpthin else he being a FAT ONE ain’t he!”

            “Teddy” eats cookies in front of me all the time too.  With his little cup of Styrofoam coffee.  Little cup he throws out in my trashcan.  Just like Pigpen he is; traveling trashcan filler.  Always eating a BAKE GOOD.  Brush the crumbs off his belly on to my rug.  Says doing that (brushing the crumbs) is his “exercises”.  All that with the huff and puff.  He won’t be able to get around much longer the way he’s headed.  Not much I can do about it:  I’m not a first responder.  When he’s down they’re gonna need a BUCKET.”

            “She’s wear’en THEM old PEARLS.” Teddy said to me.  “THAT’S HOW I know that she’s RICH.  OLD greasy PEARLS.  Been around her neck since she was BORN and her Grammy DIED.  Awful old pearls GREASY yellow from her neck.  That yellow comes from the STRESS on her NECK try’en to HOLD that family together.  Them new girls THINK pearls are WHITE just like their idiot TOO WHITE teeth.  Smile at me with noth’en BEHIND THAT all day long.  Just awful.  BE-LITTLE her old yellow neck they do her.”

            Teddy’s talking about Barbara; “Aunt Barbara” they call her.  Has more good taste than a bucket orchard of (Maple) sap pails.  Don’t they know nothing them Strip Mall Women Wasps.  Do.  Know nothing.  “You buy pearls and hang ‘em around your neck”.  That’s what they think that is; their CLASS.  But it run afoul don’t it.  And even Teddy know that.  Don’t he.
            Now Barbara’s yellow neck pearls match her teeth that she don’t ever show off.  They didn’t have cosmetic dentist work when her teeth were in combat.  Don’t think she don’t know it.  She knows what ‘tight lipped’ means.  That’s right above her pearls.

            “Teddy” they call him; “Teddy Squirrel”.  That’s not his front name.  It’s his behind the back name.  Stuck.  They call him “MISTER Squirrel” too:  That’s right; MISTER Squirrel with the MISTER being just what you think it is.  Even Barbara calls him that... right to his face too.  “What you eating today Mr. Squirrel?  Scottish Shortbread from my Grammy’s old Christmas tin?”  She says to him.  With her crooked yellow teeth and old dirty yellow pearls.  I don’t have to be there to ‘I suppose’.

            Barbara set me over a woman looking for glassware.  It took eight or nine months but she’s starting to buy some better things; American, New England ‘pressed glass.  Takes a while for them to understand the quality and the feel of that quality.  For example, one is not gonna feel the quality if you wear new shiny white pearls you just bought at a Women Wasp strip mall.  Barbara says that.  She was given her old dirty yellow pearls by her grandmother who wore them until the day she died.  Now don’t go saying Barbara didn’t take them off her dead neck herself.  Because she did.

            She put them on that day and never took them off.  Hasn’t yet.  Even though she’s getting demented.  You okay with that?
            Anyway, this woman she sent is suddenly looking at the early English dark blue Staffordshire Transferware.  I have some on a shelf.  She called it “Flow Blue”.  I tried to correct her noting that this early dark blue came earlier; 1800-1825 and that (the) Flow Blue is Victorian 1850’s.  I know she didn’t get that yet.  But.
            She told me she wanted to buy a damaged creamer she looked at ($65.00).  Nothing has come of that yet.  But that’s a start.  I told her that this early blue ‘sends the right message.  To women like Barbara.  She knows what that means and wants to do that.  “We’ll see” won’t I.

            Teddy don’t ....ahhhh.... the ‘dark blue’ or its message anyway.  Oh he’s seen it on the shelf but never goes near that.  No... he’s always got some halfway antique commonly called collectable he’s in some state of ‘found out’ with and, well, wants me to help him ‘go from there’ with it.  For no money for me.  He’s Mister All for Me, None for You.  I can see him coming so, like, that’s that.

            “Those are Victorian pearls.  That’s why they are like that.  They are real ocean pearls.  Not today’s grown and harvest garden pearls.  This string are all old and all wild.  That’s why they look like that.  They are old and on their original wire.  That’s why they cost so much.  They are hard to find and when I find them many times they are not for sale.”
            That was a fair promotion I listened to a dealer puff.  Then she backed off.  The customer; a boyfriend – girlfriend team, ‘weren’t there yet’.  Takes a while.  Takes a long time to turn a pearl necklace yellow from an old neck.  But I said to her that it was a pleasure watching her puff that quality.  Stick to the classic but in their best state; best ‘how they got here’.  That’s what the antiques are you know.  They are something you can’t get anyway else.  They are old and are that way because they ARE old and have, too, the qualities of that age and this, too, makes them more singular.  Antiques are not found in strip mall stores with vanity labeled store bags having a stupid name printed on them.  They are found around the neck of a dead grandmother.  That’s where antiques come from. 

            Now Teddy, he don’t know any of that to act on.  He do know a little something from breeding, upbringing and ‘way its suppose to be’.  He likes that raspberry jam the Trappist Monks are suppose to make.  But that is hollow and we all know that.  What Teddy don’t know is the best raspberry jam is made in August by the old historical society ladies.  But even that’s second fiddle to just mashing the raspberries up and slopping them on top of vanilla  ice cream.  Teddy just don’t know how good that can be.  Everyone of them damn historical society women have an old pearl necklace around their old necks too.  And know it; know that too.
            Do they eat the raspberry ice cream with silver spoons?  Yes they do.  Do they spoon their homemade raspberry jam with a silver spoon?  Yes they do.  Does Teddy notice this.
            He’s over there with the Trappist Monk raspberry jam oration he repeats, without modification, each August.  You ever seen him with a smeared goo-gob of that jam on his tie?
            I have.
            He never notices it until it’s too late.

            But I do say this for him:  He wears his clothes; keeps himself UP.  He come out his door that way everyday; kept up.  I say that for him.
            ONE TIME, I remember, he took Michael’s old motor launch out on the lake.  Stepped right in behind the old steering wheel and took off.  He was the only captain on that lake that day wearing a tie.  When he come back into the dock the boys looked at him in his tie and sweater and tied him right up.  Teddy just stepped off that launch and walked up the dock.  No one said anything but didn’t he love it.
            That was all vanity.  His tie and sweater weren’t though.  He’s wearing those right now just like they’re his damn pearls.  He don’t know that though.