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HOW TO VALUE OLD & RARE BOOKS - SECRETS FROM A RARE BOOK DEALER

hi I'm Adam Weinberger a rare book

dealer and today I'm going to show you

some secrets of the trade of how to

value an old book so I think it's very

helpful to begin with an instructive

example this is a book from the 18th

century it's in its original marbled

boards you can see it's quite dry on the

spine and it's missing a little bit on

top the edges of the paper are uncut

which is generally quite desirable and

the book itself is the constitution of

England it's published in London in 1775

so already I'm thinking it's close to

the 1776 miraculous year in America and

it's got an interesting book plate and

some inscriptions we'll get back to so

let's go see how we start looking up the

value of the book so generally dealers

will immediately hone in on a few things

like the rarity the completeness the

desirability of a book and one of the

best sites that's really transformed the

rare book market in recent years is a

site called rare book hub it's a

subscriber site but it gives actual

records of copies that have sold usually

at auction sometimes from old dealer

catalogues but it's incredibly

comprehensive and they keep adding to it

all the time and almost every deal or an

auction house that I know uses it to see

the prices of previous copies as a

subscriber you can go into the site here

and we'll just type the book the

constitution of England in London 1775

Constitution England London 1775 I have

not looked up the book yet or done any

things is the first time and we're gonna

search here and we can see right away

we're gonna just check the author here's

a Jean Louie Delon it's the exact same

author and you can click through and see

what copies have sold for and then we

want to compare the addition and the

general condition of the book so this is

one of the records the constitution of

England doesn't give too much

it says the bindings beginning to

separate it's got some issues condition

issues but generally it looks complete

and it's astounding oh my god

this is something terrible about the

state of the antiquarian book market in

2014 this book was offered at auction

for two to $300 $200 in estimated price

it actually sold for only twenty three

dollars and fifty cents that is

heartbreaking just to think you could

buy a book at auction from 1775 on the

Constitution for twenty-something

dollars

let's not take that as a singular record

we can see some others here and I'm

gonna narrow it down by also putting in

the author here and that seems to be the

only copy in the records right now that

I see here there seems to be a lot of

them that's all but actually as a single

book that's the only one of the records

it doesn't mean that it's

extraordinarily rare or anything like

that it may be too low value these days

to make a lot of auctions which tend to

want a finer and finer material so

that's one way we can look up prices of

books that have sold at auction there

are some other very good sites online

these are general retail sites there's

one called via libri which is one that I

like to use because it's a like a meta

search engine and very comprehensive and

again I will just type in Constitution

England 1775 and Loan and we'll see if

there's any price at books that are

available online better bring sell sold

and I'll just check the spelling on that

of course I made a mistake they always

have to spell things correctly if you

want accurate results so it's

again did I make another mistake

Constitution looks like it's England's

not inbound of course and here we go

and here are some copies of the book

itself there is an earlier edition so we

don't have the first edition of it here

is a copy of it online being sold by

colleague and London and excellent

colleague Peter Harrington books and I'm

gonna click through to see their exact

Edition so here is their copy it's being

offered for sale for nine hundred and

ninety six dollars and that is the exact

issue first edition in English of a

Swiss English political theorist his

loans favorable assessment to the

liberties latent in the British

constitution so we're not going to get

into the history of the book or its

importance in law or anything like that

in this video this is strictly for

learning some of the sites to give a

quick valuation of the book you can also

click through here it says there's

thirty use copies I don't know how

accurate that is and I will price order

them to see if we can find some other

copies being sold there's a 1792 edition

for seven hundred thirty one dollars

there is another copy of our book the

1775 offered for five hundred and fifty

one dollars and we can scroll all the

way down to see if there's any other

1775 ones there's a dublin issue from

the exact same year two hundred and

sixty dollars and we continue down so

again it takes some exploration it

actually click through to another site

called aber books which is another good

retail site but again I would like to

use via libri because it's a more

comprehensive database and includes a

lot of other databases under its

umbrella here is a 1789 Edition slightly

later for a hundred fifty dollars so

there are lots of copies it appears to

be a frequently reprinted book

um so not rare in the market which

explains its rather low prices at

auction where it got practically nothing

and copies you know starting in the low

hundreds of dollars up to nine hundred

dollars online but again we want to

match the exact Edition and everything

like that after we get a sense of their

auction and retail prices on some of

these sites we can also look up some of

the books rarity on sites to see how

widely held it is institutionally and

things like that

a site that a lot of dealers use is OCLC

or firstsearch but there isn't a

relatively equivalent site that's more

widely available for public use and that

is WorldCat there are some errors in the

database but it's pretty comprehensive

in terms of the number of copies that

are held by institutions and here we can

type in a constitution again loma 1775

and let's just search and there were

some dublin editions and things like

that but here we go and you can click

through and it's showing very quickly on

the left here without clicking through

all the individual databases that there

is at least sixteen copies of both the

Dublin and London editions in libraries

so it's a relatively easy to find a copy

of this in the library so we have a

sense of value now from the auction

databases like where book hub we've

looked on via libri and we also have

looked on worldcat.org and we see that

it is not particularly rare in

institutions so that gives a sense of

the price now the other thing we want to

do here is look more thoroughly at this

particular copy just to make

sure there's nothing special about this

copy which could raise the value because

inspecting an individual copies

particularly important so I'm going to

shift back over here to the book plate

and the inscription I love this book

plate it's a nice late 18th century

early 19th century book plate of two

chained monkeys in armorial book plate

here one of the first thing one of the

first things one of the important things

we have to do also is we have to check

what we call the provenance of a book

who owned it is there any evidence of

ownership and is that ownership

important in telling the story of the

book because booksellers today want to

tell stories about their books and

interesting stories about particular

copies whether they were owned to

inscribed by somebody certainly raised

the value of the book so I always check

the book plates here very carefully it's

very easy to type in a particular name

it's an a' calligraphic an st. andrew

st. john of let's--oh and we're just

gonna do a quick Wikipedia search of

that and that pops right up st. Andrew

st. john 14th Bauer and John st. John of

Bledsoe and it says right here he was an

English politician who sat in the House

of Commons from 1780 until 1806 when he

inherited a peerage so that's quite fun

we have a copy that belonged to an

English politician who was sitting in

the House of Commons during the period

even when you know the Revolutionary War

when America wrote the Constitution so

it's interesting that it's a nice book

on the constitution of England itself

now getting to the inscription which is

very important to study closely here and

it's what makes this particular copy

quite fascinating is as I'm reading it

through here first of all it's dated

1776 here but what is particularly

unusual and interesting is

it seems to be a list of people who have

had the book and passed it on and read

it so almost like a lending library sort

of thing but this is not a library copy

it was a personal copy belonging to that

Member of Parliament and what's of

what's particularly unusual now as I go

through it is it's actually a list of

women who have borrowed the copy I don't

see a single man on this list here it

says November the first cent I can read

it quickly sent to mrs. Heather son and

then mrs. Stevenson received the book on

November 5th and then she sent it to

Miss manly on November 19th and Miss

manly sent the book to lady Robeson on

December 2nd lady Robinson and the lady

Robinson sent it to Lady John Day and

the list goes on and on here of nothing

but a list of women who have read the

book relented even lended to their

quarterly meetings it says and mrs. man

so Sarah that is particularly unusual

actually that is not something I've ever

even seen in a book a list of women

readers in the 18th century and

particularly lovely in the year 1776 who

have borrowed a book on the Constitution

to read of course and to educate

themselves and probably with all of the

events going on in the international

stage and in America that was a

particular interest to them and in the

book trade today you know books

associated with women things that tell a

story about women and reading in the

period of particularly interesting and

sought-after so this is quite a special

copy now that I look at it and it

deserves some further study so I'm going

to say right off the bat that this is

not a book that's probably and the lower

end of the range of prices we saw in the

couple hundred dollar range or something

like that because it has some very

unique aspects to it that again tell a

story about the book so we're not just

selling the book itself which is rather

common in commerce and institutionally

but if I can write this up in an

interesting way to you know highlight

the readership and women's circles in

the period and maybe we'll investigate

some more of the names of those books I

could you know do research that could

raise the value you know closer towards

the eight hundred thousand dollar range

I don't know at this moment but

something on that order perhaps so that

is the story of the Constitution of

England and some of the websites where

you can start to look up books so thank

you again for tuning in to learn some of

the techniques we used to value old

books I hope it was helpful of course I

understand how complex it can be to

value an old book as well as a larger

collection and naturally there are many

subtle things that are in old books

which can significantly change the value

and may not be obvious to a novice so

it's always good to check with an expert

you can easily contact a local member in

his specialty of the ABAA of which I

remember that is the antiquarian book

sellers Association of America it's one

of the premier organizations of rare

book dealers and my colleagues are very

friendly and often very happy to help

additionally you're more than welcome to

reach out to me I do my best to offer

free evaluations by picture through

photos by by text or by email and

naturally you're free to call me all of

that information is at the end or look

me up on my website and thank you so

much subscribe I'll put up more videos

about the antiquarian book trade you

know researching appraising old books

and

some adventurous finds so thank you so

much

you