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Don't bother asking the dealer to share with you individual book values, because: A) statistically speaking, he is probably clueless B) if he doesn't want the item, he may merely inflate the value just to make you feel better, or C) if he does want it, there is a good chance what he tells you, may not be cut from whole cloth, whatever that means. Over the years, I have been amazed how casually family members discard these old tomes, throwing away 100+ years of family history. Upon a moment's reflection, I understand completely! Many less important leaves have survived and can still be found in unlikely places. Copper, steel and a variety of metals were engraved with various tools, inked and imprinted. Looks nice, but was such a common practice at the turn of the century, that it doesn't really add any particular value to an old book. If the notes are scribbled by the author, it becomes expensivealia. I have had to refund a number of sales through the years, due to over-looked dead bugs, remainder marks, smudged bottom edges, etc. Very thin, polyester plastic, used to cover dust jackets or book bindings. Nobody cares if the book belonged to your horse-thieving Grandpappy. Normal wear to a book as a result of being on a shelf, being taken from a shelf and being replaced on a shelf. Signed by the author, with preference given to books signed during the year of publication. The "signature" is printed, usually within or near the artwork. Several printing houses specialized in these bindings, Decorative Designs being the most prolific.

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What follows, is a primer of the terms and tactics used among the purveyors and collectors of out-of-print and rare books. Ironically, they are the true first editions of many books, but in spite of that, they are collected by only a handful of hardy purists. Obviously, valuable books may in fact, be old, but age is not the first consideration. For instance, a dealer may look at your stash and tell you to A) incinerate it B) donate it to a local charity and take the tax deduction, or C) indicate that you have some nice items, worthy of further investigation. These editions will NEVER be scarce or rare (or readable). A fictional account of a person's life, written by that person. There is virtually no market for old bibles, unless they were published pre-1800. Future sales cover overhead and eventually will become profit (at least that's the theory). There are exceptions to all of the aforementioned, but the time you invest trying to figure it out, will far exceed any additional monetary gain you can hope to realize. Tip: to determine if you have all the books and they are not individually numbered, check the last volume for an index and work backwards. There are many instances that the proud author has signed so many copies of his book, that the unsigned copies are the ones commanding a premium.

Many of these terms have been in use for several hundred years. There is NO shortage of books from the late 1800s, that have virtually no value, except to the rapacious owner of your local pulp mill. At this point, if you express an interest in selling, he may make you an offer. A binding which is decorated with a coat of arms that indicates the royal lineage of its (original) owner. Often penned (by ghost writers) in an effort to restock diminishing coffers or to resurrect a tattered reputation. May take the form of advertisements, notes, appendices or bibliographies. At that point they are not collected because they are bibles, but by whom they were published. The odds are stacked in your favor that you are probably wasting everyone's time, if you try to sell: book club editions, Literary Guild books, magazines, Reader's Digest Condensed, National Geographics, most text books, dictionaries, broken sets, books in poor condition, law books, encyclopedias, most 19th century fiction, Bibles, computer books, books published by Time-Life, The Smithsonian, American Heritage, A. Don't forget, you can always donate your books to your local library, old folks' home, the military or a worthy charity. Many author "signatures" are printed on the page by the publisher (some ironically, long after the poor shlub of an author has died). The size of a book is determined by the size of the original sheet of printed paper and the number of times it is folded.

Notes, preferably by the author, offering a brief explanation or description about the subject at hand. A collection of literary works, limited to a specific genre (sci-fi, horror, etc.) or author. Literal translation: Append price on any given book with a zero. Back in the day, appraisals were very labor intensive and mind-numbingly tedious. Considered a quintessential "get" in book collecting, especially if inscribed to someone who has the goods on the author. From a collector's standpoint, these are very desirable and among the scarcest items in the book world. The Internet has pretty much deflated prices for common books, so don't expect to get much for them. On your better books, you should expect to get 1/3 to 1/2 of what ever the dealer thinks is the potential retail value (this number being the key...). Beware of autopen signatures, they are just what they sound like.

While this may be a bit of an over-generalization, you get my point. Objects, usually forgotten between two pages, usually as in pressed flowers and not money. There is something wrong with the book, but it doesn't matter, because that's the way it came. A copy of a book that has been inscribed by the author, to someone intimately close to the author. But here is a brief listing of terms you will run into, on your quest for books, in rough chronological order of their usage: Block Books (c. A single carved block of wood for each page (common in the Far East). Different dealers have different specialities, expenses, profit margins and knowledge — the point being: results may vary. If books are packed too tightly on a shelf, when a book is pulled out by the spine tip, you are apt to tear the tip. Signed by anyone other than the author, it becomes a defect. Inscribed refers to something more than just a signature (including just a date).

Dealers solicit appraisals so they can get access to your stuff and buy it — cheap. One who catalogs books or creates bibliographies (a chronological list and description of works by an author, or on a particular subject). The description and identification of editions, issue dates, points and authorship of books or other written material. A working knowledge of Latin comes in handy if you enjoy reading these puppies. This subject goes well beyond the scope of this screed. Pieces of hard wood were hand carved, placed in the printing press, inked and imprinted. It is now being faked (as in printed) on some of the tony looking books you find stacked like cord wood at Sam's Club. In a perfect world, modern first collectors would only find cheap, unread, unclipped, mint jacketed copies available. A soft, fine grained material used on higher quality bindings. Most people tend to overestimate the value of their old books. If this process is repeated numerous times, the result will be more shelf wear. Signed with anything more than just a name, it becomes an inscription. Frederick Goudy and Margaret Armstrong are a couple of names that come to mind as collectible book artists. As a rule if the book is signed by the author it is worth more, by anybody else, sorry it doesn't count.

If after all this, you decide that you don't want to sell, both of you are left in pretty much in the same lose-lose predicament that you found yourselves in before you met. The old, monstrous, family bibles are usually of no interest to anyone but the family (or not), the occasional genealogist or interior decorator. Here is a short list of the abbreviations and their approximate sizes (the numbers refer to the number of leaves, or pages resulting from the folding): Fo. A large sheet folded a single time (or not at all).

After years of supporting the weight of the binding or the gatherings, the paper might start splitting or give it up all together. If the spine is not physically attached to the back of the book, there will be a space that allows the spine to bow when the book is opened. Generally refers to an original manuscript or an inscription. Many had a hole in them so that they could be hung from a belt or girdle. Say you posses the world's largest collection of Charles Bukowski books. In the days of monastic scribes (pre Gutenberg and moveable type), the first letters of text (called initials or versos) were highly decorated, often using 18 carat gold. Chemical etching process, cheap, lacks high quality. Globs of different colored inks are floated on a gelatinous bath called sizing. Pop culture (and the idiots comprising same) may make a book "hot today, worthless tomorrow." Movies, Oprah's Book Club (if that is still going) and other ephemeral whimsies can punch up temporary interest, but it is best to get out while you can. Some random thoughts: Book dealers will only buy what they think they can sell, in their lifetime.

It is easily remedied (on valuable books, consult with a professional) by running a very small bead of "dries flexible" type glue along the (try to use a little common sense here) split, remove the excess, squish lightly along the seam and carefully close the book. Most of these books were broken up during the Victorian pillaging and plundering era with the best leaves going into the British Royals collection or well-endowed museums. Printing plates were made of limestone, carved, inked and pressed. A sheet of paper is then laid down on top of the pattern, lifted off with the groovy pattern affixed, dried, cut to size and then bound into the book. If the offending marks extend into the actual text, it magically becomes underscoring. There are quite a few homeopathic remedies available, none of which work: Baking soda, sunlight, kitty litter, smelly fabric washing machine things, microwave ovens. Modern first collectors tend to be fanatical about condition (which is fine, unless you are the bookseller). Dealers will not pay a premium for sentimental value.

This is quite common on heavy and older books, especially with cheap bindings and paper. End papers can be replaced by a reputable book binder (caution, the color of the paper usually won't match the original pages. Spines attached (tight backed) to the back are prone to cracking. Instead of calling it a hoard of drunken ramblings, you call it Bukowskiiana. Most of these prized pages were found in 11th to 15th century Breviaries, Book of Hours and Antiphonies. Again, metal plates, more geared towards "high speed" mechanical presses. The inks are then combed together into original, one of a kind patterns. It may be an air-borne fungi and can spread to your other books. Never invest in modern first editions that have been rebound. There is a dealer in London who rebinds every book that crosses his path, in full leather, and sells them to clueless collectors for exorbitant prices and laughs all the way to Barclays. Most book dealers are closet anarchists, with capitalistic tendencies, reluctantly acknowledging that they do need to make a profit in order to stay in business — don't judge them too harshly.

Unfortunately, the Internet has brought with it a general dumbing-down of any traditional knowledge or nomenclature. Keep in mind, authors that were popular 100 years ago, for the most part are long forgotten, and probably are not collected unless they are the real deal. You can 1) say yes 2) say no, or 3) make a counteroffer. Differs from a diary, in that it is meant for public consumption, although the diary would probably make for much better reading. There are some exceptions (as always), but they (the reasons) tend to be rather esoteric. Get a receipt and and take a couple-of-bucks-a-book tax deduction. The Clintons donated their used underwear (insert gagging sound here) and took the deduction! Please don't call and tell me you have a signed set of Grant's Memoirs... Groupings of these folded sheets (signatures) stitched or glued together will comprise the book.

The proprietor seems to have lost the proprietary information battle and has illogically priced himself out of the reach of those who might care. From a collector's point of view, usually implies a reprint, thus not as valuable as an original version. Almost never collected, and almost always impossible to sell. Today the appraiser looks the items up on the Internet, jots down some ephemeral price and hopes for the best (meaning you or the IRS don't start asking questions). If you need an appraisal for tax or insurance reasons, expect to pay for it. One of the more creative aspects of book construction. Publishers don't want to bet the farm on an unknown author, so they don't print many copies of a first book. Still the most printed book in history, ergo, not uncommon. If the dealer is willing to pay more, he is either independently wealthy or a Bozo, or worse yet — both. A book that has a binding shaped to reflect the subject matter (for instance: a horse, a train, a doll, etc.). Author signatures dated subsequent to the year of publication usually indicates that a book dealer, upon hearing that there will be an "author signing", scours the town for all the copies of the particular authors' books, then stands in line at the signing, with a box of books, for an interminable length of time, then annoys the indignant author by asking him to sign all the books.


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