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    1838 Texas Land Office Book

    Appraised Value:

    $20,000 - $30,000

    Appraised on: June 3, 2000

    Appraised in: Austin, Texas

    Appraised by: Stephen Massey

    Category: Books & Manuscripts

    Episode Info: Relative Riches (#1319)

    Originally Aired: November 23, 2009

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Book
    Material: Paper
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $20,000 - $30,000

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    Appraisal Video: (2:43)


    Appraised By:

    Stephen Massey
    Books & Manuscripts

    Bloomsbury Auctions

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: Besides being very old and tattered, um, it's a book from the Texas General Land Office, of the original title and record. It was printed in 1838 when Texas was a republic.

    APPRAISER: In Houston, I see.

    GUEST: Yes I guess you're right. There was originally only a thousand copies of these printed. It had to be printed by the Congress of Texas because they needed a record of who were the original land holders at the time of the beginning of the republic.

    APPRAISER: And these, presumably, throughout these pages, are those original land holders to whom property was granted. Is that correct?

    GUEST: Yes, sir. That is correct. It was my grandfather's, and we think he got it from his father, which owned a good bit of property in East Texas, but he could have also gotten it through my great maternal grandmother who was also related by marriage to the Houston family. Her name was Nina Cummings.


    GUEST: So, but we're not sure. But we got it now.

    APPRAISER: Yes. As I've said earlier, items of this type come up for market extremely rarely and we've got something here that is two years later than the Alamo. Houston, 1838. When was Texas a state? 1845?

    GUEST: Yes, sir. I believe so.

    APPRAISER: The physical condition, as you've said, does leave something to be desired, but conservation could soon put this right. These tapes here are probably water based and could be easily removed. This... I'm afraid, and I think I heard from you earlier that your family's responsible for this.

    GUEST: Yes.

    APPRAISER: This is what's known as Scotch tape and...

    GUEST: I'm afraid you're right.

    APPRAISER: Scotch tape can be removed however so all is not lost, and I think there are several binder conservators who could put this into good condition for you.

    GUEST: That's good news.

    APPRAISER: Certainly. Now, what we really want to know is, uh, your-your findings, because you came in here earlier this afternoon armed with a lot of research about the number of copies made of this great rarity. How many copies, can you tell us a little bit about it?

    GUEST: I guess, originally, there was about 1,000 printed.


    GUEST: But my mother was doing a lot of research, and she thinks that she can only find about 12 in existence.

    APPRAISER: 12, yes.

    GUEST: Yes, sir. And we-- most of them really are only in public institutions. Like the New York Public Library, the Yale Library, Rice University, and also the University of Texas, and I think the Texas land office has one, but I think they laminated their...

    APPRAISER: Yes and you also said that of the four copies at the University of Texas, they were able to cobble together two copies, two perfect ones from four imperfect specimens.

    GUEST: Correct

    APPRAISER: An item like this, I believe, in 1966 or 1967, one was valued at about $2,500.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: And I think now that you could certainly put a comfortable auction estimate of $20,000 to $30,000 on it. And it might be, um, worth significantly more, because the auction estimates now are fairly conservative.

    GUEST: Oh. (laughing)

    APPRAISER: And I hope you're, hope you're happy with that.

    GUEST: I'm just shocked. (laughs)

    APPRAISER: All right, well...

    GUEST: I'm speechless.

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