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April 9, 2012 4:04 AM   Subscribe

I have a beautiful old book of poetry by Yeats but, at some point in its past, the binding has been badly water damaged. A few years ago, to my great excitement, I noticed that it was signed by Yeats. I am not intending to sell the book, but I want to look after it. What should I do? Will getting the book properly restored reduce its value?
posted by BadMiker to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have a read through Wikipedia's section on Bookinding -- Conservation and Restoration. Short answer, proper work: no.

...but I think before talking to a binder you'd want to look at figuring out how to authenticate the signature. Lots of people "autograph" books for whatever flight of fancy. That you managed to obtain this without knowing of a genuine inscription from Yeats is very peculiar and suggests somebody else had taken a look and written it off as somebody else's hand. What's the story of how it came to you?

Know also that beautiful old books of poetry are also not worth a terrific amount of money and if has a regular cloth binding and fake autograph it will likely to be cheaper to go out and buy a non-damaged identical copy. Sadly. Do you have a picture of the book...?

(I do thoroughly apologise if you are sitting on a beautifully-bound treasure with solid documentation about WB's interaction with it)
posted by kmennie at 5:42 AM on April 9, 2012


This is what is should look like.

The signature appears to be genuine; the ink looks right and it appears to be the same as other examples of his signature I have seen. The autograph is below a picture of Yeats, and is in a similar brown ink; it's easy to mistake it for part of the picture. It wasnt until I felt the indentation of the nib I realised it was different. There's no provenance though, and I have no idea how it came to be signed. I bought the book as water-damaged from a jumble sale.

On further research, the book is not particularly valuable. I suppose one option would be to get a good copy and transfer the picture page, with signature, into it.
posted by BadMiker at 6:16 AM on April 9, 2012

Here's a page from the Bookman's Catalogue that says from 1912 on that book was printed with a facsimile signature under the portrait. So it's probably just a printed signature.
posted by interplanetjanet at 6:26 AM on April 9, 2012

Dammit! The cold light of truth.

posted by BadMiker at 6:47 AM on April 9, 2012

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