Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Tag Archives: Books & Manuscripts

Selling Antique Books, Part II: Eight Ways to Determine Your Books’ Value

If there is one single thing that is a make or break for book value, it would be the dust jacket. The value of a first edition copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night with dust jacket is around $6,000. Without a dust jacket….$300. This huge difference in value is largely due to the fact that more than 90% of dust jackets are destroyed, either deliberately or due to their ephemeral and fragile nature. If you have one on a good book, treasure it. Also, be sure to protect it with a plastic sleeve.

Fine Books & Manuscripts Gallery Walk

Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) The Inaugural Speech of Thomas Jefferson (Lot 28: Estimate $4,000-$6,000)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Join us for a tour of auction highlights


Reception: 5:30PM Gallery Walk: 6PM

All are welcome to attend a free event at the Skinner Boston Gallery. Devon Gray, Department Director, will present highlights from the May 30th, 2014 Fine Books & Manuscripts auction.

Skinner Boston Gallery 63 Park Plaza Boston, MA 02116

Reservations 508-970-3240 events@skinnerinc.comRead More

Breaking Books

A rare book can lose a significant amount of value if it’s missing even a single page of text. If what’s lacking is a title page, illustration, or map, the price will drop like an anvil in a cartoon. The same goes for a set of books that happens to be missing one or two volumes. And yet every day in the Skinner Fine Books & Manuscripts department we see plates, maps, title pages, and text leaves removed from valuable books.

From Astronomy to Optics: An Important History of Science Book Collection

Hevelius, Johannes (1611-1687) Prodromus Astronomiae. Danzig: Stollius, 1690. To be sold at auction on November 18, 2012, Lot 573, Estimate $80,000-$100,000

I got a phone call last August about a potential book collection. Nothing unusual there, my job allows me the privilege of responding to queries about book collections every day. The description of the collection was brief but promising: about 125 books on the history of science, from the sixteenth to nineteenth century.… Read More

Collecting is in my DNA

I think collecting is somewhere in my DNA.

As a child I collected stamps and multicolored beach glass. As a young person I read that Alexander Calder collected “stones with holes right through them,” so I collected, and still have, shells and stones with holes right through them. Throughout my adult life, my collection focused on actors, acting, and the history of both.

Too Many Books, Too Little Time: What are Old Books Worth?

Cotta, John. The Triall of Witchcraft Auctioned for $1,960

Determining the value of a book collection is a tricky proposition. Not only do many people have large quantities of books, but libraries and collections can have widely varying characteristics. First, let’s decide what kind of a library you have. Take a look at these three major types of collections.

Rare Book Collection

This group of books was methodically assembled by a book lover with a plan.… Read More

Meet the Experts: Devon Gray, Director of Fine Books & Manuscripts, Part II

The Adventures of a Rare Book Expert

Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1976), editor. The Mask: a Monthly Journal of the Art of the Theatre. Florence: Morandi, Tipografia Bodoniana, 1908-1912. Estimate $800-1,200.

Devon Gray is the new Director of Fine Books & Manuscripts at Skinner. Read part I, How to Fall in Love with Medieval Manuscripts, then read on for some of Devon’s favorite discoveries from her years buying and selling rare books.… Read More

Meet the Experts: Devon Gray, Director of Fine Books & Manuscripts, Part I

When I was in college, my husband and I loved going to second-hand bookstores in Harvard Square. One day, we found a book from the 1600s. It was a Latin/Greek lexicon printed in Amsterdam, and it cost $175. With most antiques, if something is from 1850, it’s considered really old. If we had found a painting from the 1600s, it seemed to me that it would be worth a lot more than that! So we bought the book.

Autograph Value Guide Part II: Rarity & Condition in Signed Historical Documents

There are two remaining factors in collecting signed documents, and they really apply to any type of paper collectible: rarity and condition.

Collectors must remember that paper is fragile and so often does not survive. The very term for paper collectibles, “ephemera”, literally means something that is fleeting and does not last. That’s why when a rare signed document comes to market in great condition, the sky is the limit for serious collectors and records are continually broken.

Autograph Value Guide Part I: Three Tips for Collecting Historical and Famous Signatures

Signed documents, such as letters, manuscripts, memos, and other important papers, are one of the fastest growing collecting areas at auction. The personal nature of signed documents connect us to the world’s most important figures, and the stories that they reveal make history come alive in a way that no textbook ever could. If you wish to collect a little history of your own, follow these tried and true tips.

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