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The Needle in the Haystack: Finding Rare Books

Many people who love to spend their Saturdays at a flea market or an estate sale dream of that one special find. It’s that collectible piece that they’ll never get their hands on again, and that can become part of a collection of unique and rare pieces such as rare books.

If you visit a sale hosted by a professional firm such as Prestige Estate Services, you rest assured that the experienced team will point you in the right direction, depending on the kind of things you collect. Prestige is known for accurately identifying the items their clients entrust to them for an estate sale. You’ll have fun finding great bargains on everyday articles and numerous collectibles in pristine condition, for which you can expect to pay a fair price.

When the Pickings are Good

What makes Prestige estate sales unique is that by their very nature, almost everything for sale was a valued possession, not things that would have been for sale under normal circumstances. Possible causes for a sale include heirs and individuals clearing out a relative’s possessions, a family moving that choose to leave behind everything but their most essential belongings, a downsizing situation, and so forth. You will often find watches, glassware, and other valuable items priced at a fraction of their original value. An estate sale is, therefore, also a good place to search out rare books.

The probability of finding a valuable book in good condition becomes heightened because books are often kept for many years and may have sat on the same bookshelf for decades. Usually purchased at a nominal price, these works can increase in value without any awareness by the owners and heirs. For example, a grandparent could have bought a first edition of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in the thirties for less than a dollar. That one book in excellent condition can easily fetch more than $25,000 today, and will likely keep increasing in value, making it a sound investment.

How to Spot a Rare Book

While rare books don’t have to be the work of a famous author that is just one of several criteria to use when evaluating such finds. As with many other items, simply being old or antique does not guarantee a high value. In addition to a first edition of a famous author, here are some other signs of a good buy:

• Early editions of books, even if the author is not well-recognized.
• Books with signatures from the author or a famous person (from owning it or giving the book as a gift)
• Unique or special designs, bindings, or typography, such a fore-edge painting (hand painting on the border or spine of a closed book)
• Printing from a special press, such as early English houses or in America prior to 1900

As with all collectibles, demand and supply are the ultimate factors in determining market value. Some books may be of interest to other collecting groups, creating a higher price for a resell. For example, early works of firearms are of interest to gun collectors, and numerous books on battles and military leaders get the attention of military history buffs.

You can spend a bit of time getting acquainted with these potential gems and increase your chance of finding a treasure when you check out the books at an upcoming Prestige estate sale near you. They are often overlooked and may well be worth taking the time to peruse.

Prestige Estate Services Sarasota/Tampa
941-893-3431 or 1-844-EST-SALE