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Are Your Used Books Worth Anything?

Two eager Yale students were skunked at the book fair, but had a good time.Photo by David Seideman

Last March, Heritage Auctions sold a signed and inscribed first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby from 1925 for $162,500 at a rare book sale in New York City.

On Sunday, I took a break from my regular sports collectibles beat and spent two-and-a-half hours at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair’s Discovery Day. The hosts invited guests to “bring up to five treasures to be evaluated by our experts.” This is the book world’s annual version of the Antiques Roadshow.

A few of the 100 book owners on line carried small treasures, but the rest didn’t cover the fair’s $25 admission cost. I asked two dealers what the odds are of them striking pay dirt during their house calls to appraise personal collections. While one said the chances are one out of 10, another thought it’s more like one out of a 1,000.

Heritage’s valuable first edition.Photo by Heritage Auctions.

Books are beautiful things and among humankind’s greatest inventions. At the fair, I admired everything from an early complete edition of Shakespeare’s plays ($500,0000) from the 1600s to a stunning, outsized 12-page, accordion style children’s book illustrating Noah’s Ark, from 1925 ($2,750).

The bar is very high for rare and valuable books.

“Like other pieces of art that are sold as commodities, over the centuries books have been balanced precariously between ‘sacred vessels of Western culture’ and ‘show me the money!’” writes Rebecca Romney, author of  Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidseideman/2019/03/12/nobody-wants-your-old-books-or-do-they/

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