New Orleans "Blue Book", ca. 1916
Appraised Value: $4,000 - $5,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:45)
Books & Manuscripts
Senior Vice President & Senior Specialist, Rare Books and Manuscripts
APPRAISER: You brought in what is a fairly modest-looking little book.
APPRAISER: But it's actually quite an interesting piece of local history. It's called the "Blue Book." Tell us how you came by this.
GUEST: A few years ago, one of the neighbors had passed away, and they pretty much cleared the contents of his house, and I had rummaged through some of the boxes...
APPRAISER: Throwing away a lot of stuff.
GUEST: That were remaining on the sidewalk.
APPRAISER: I'll pick it up and we can look at it a little more closely. It's got some advertising on the back, et cetera. And as you know, this is one of the famous guides to the Storyville District, here in New Orleans-- the notorious red-light district-- a part of New Orleans history.
GUEST: It's history; yes.
APPRAISER: But I thought it might be interesting to show the ROADSHOW viewers a few of the pages of this classic, if we can call it that. It's full of ads, and the ads are for things like "Raleigh Rye," which is a very popular brand at the time. The main body of the book, though, is a long, long list of young ladies.
APPRAISER: With their name and their address, you know. "May O'Brien, 1547 Iberville." "Viola Morris, 209 North Franklin." And this book makes no bones about what it is. I mean, it's a guide to sporting houses and loose women.
APPRAISER: "Diana and Norma. Why visit the playhouses to see the famous Parisian models, when one can see the French damsels Norma and Diana." Here's another one that was sort of interesting-- the Cairo, run by someone whose nickname is Snooks. "Snooks has an array of beautiful girls, who are everlastingly on the alert for a good time, and her Oriental dancers are among our cleverest entertainers." Because of the nature of this book, this was not something that stayed in people's libraries very long; it was an ephemeral thing; a lot of people were embarrassed to have it around, I'm sure threw them away. It's actually quite a rare book. There are different editions done. I think the earliest ones were in the 1890s; those are exceedingly rare. This is one of the later ones-- there's no date here, I think this was done about 1915, 1916 or 1917.the last copy I was able to track down at auction, sold for more than $2,000, some years ago.
APPRAISER: My guess on this is it's worth somewhere between $3,500 and $4,500.
GUEST: My goodness.
APPRAISER: Not bad for something you picked from the garbage, right?
GUEST: Pretty good find.
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