How to have items appraised and then sell them?
January 2, 2019 5:07 PM   Subscribe

I have several letters + a manuscript from Famous Author. I bought them from a reputable dealer about 20 years ago, and paid $2000. I now want to have these items appraised, and then sell them. Where/how to do this?

(I have the original authentication materials, but I don't want this to be a conversation about authentication.)

This is for a Famous Author of the 20th Century -- a dead white dude in the canon. Some person or institution probably wants these, though I have no idea if the old price is in any way relevent to this moment in time. I'm okay with that, but I'm done with these things and want them to move on, particularly so they can be stored carefully.

I'm in Los Angeles.

If I had access to Antiques Roadshow I might try that, but how/where else to accomplish this, please?
posted by BlahLaLa to Shopping (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
In my experience, in a town much, much smaller than LA, used book dealers will offer appraisal services, usually for an hourly fee. By used book dealers, I mean something more than places that offer paperbacks for $0.50, of course - you'll want someone who deals in valuable books as well, preferably 19th/20th C. You'll want to ask if they appraise ephemera. I would imagine you will hit paydirt in one call, or if not your first or second call will refer you directly to someone in LA who can take care of the job. Let them know you are appraising for sale, not insurance or donation purposes.
posted by scolbath at 5:13 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


You might want to search through the American Society of Appraisers website. I had a very good experience with an ASA appraiser recently.

Edit: linked to the wrong site, now fixed
posted by procrastination at 5:24 PM on January 2 [4 favorites]


I might try the closest university - the English Dept or the library. They might have some suggestions if not the proper person on staff.
posted by lyssabee at 6:09 PM on January 2 [1 favorite]


You could call Christie's and Sotherby's auctioneers, both of which have offices in Los Angeles.
posted by anadem at 6:13 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


I'm a librarian a bit east of LA -- our special collections folks are fans of Johnson's Rare Books. If they can't help you, they could probably give you a referral.
posted by pantarei70 at 6:20 PM on January 2 [10 favorites]


Another appraisers group that has a well-regarded membership: Appraisers Association.
posted by cowboy_sally at 8:11 PM on January 2


Another thing to consider when trying to get value for the items is donating them and the tax writeoff value to you. If you can get an appraisal that values them high enough, it could be faster and easier to donate them than to find the right buyer for the right price.
posted by AugustWest at 10:35 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Swann Gallery
posted by BWA at 6:18 AM on January 3


Another thing to consider when trying to get value for the items is donating them and the tax writeoff value to you. If you can get an appraisal that values them high enough, it could be faster and easier to donate them than to find the right buyer for the right price.

A "dead white dude in the canon" probably has their personal papers in a university library somewhere. If you can find out where that university is, they would make an excellent place to donate the papers. As a bonus, they're likely to "store them carefully" if that's your main concern.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:36 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


How to have items appraised and then sell them?

That’s what auction houses do. I’d go to the Sotheby’s in LA.
posted by w0mbat at 9:08 AM on January 3


Outside of the box answer:

World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, maybe get on TV in an episode of Pawn Stars. ;)
posted by Fukiyama at 10:02 AM on January 3


A "dead white dude in the canon" probably has their personal papers in a university library somewhere. If you can find out where that university is, they would make an excellent place to donate the papers.

This library would very likely also buy them, just as a point of fact.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:08 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


This library would very likely also buy them, just as a point of fact.

For a significant/high value collection of interest, the library may also be willing to pay for the appraisal, on the understanding they will be first in line to make an offer, if they have sufficient funds. For some tax incentive donation schemes, the government may also require that the valuation happens via an approved valuer of their (govt/library's) choosing. (That's how it works in some large libraries in Australia, anyway!).

Long story short, find out which institution already holds the bulk of his papers, and ask them about next steps.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 2:16 PM on January 3


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