William S. Burroughs Collection
Appraised Value: $7,000 - $10,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:31)
Books & Manuscripts
Brattle Book Shop
APPRAISER: All right, David, you brought in a large collection of William Burroughs. Now, he was one of the most influential Beat writers, was friends with Kerouac, Ginsburg and so on, but he also had a local Kansas connection and background. Tell me about it a little.
GUEST: His local Kansas connection was my father-in-law, George Call, who lived in Lawrence, Kansas. And they both discovered at some point that they were real gun enthusiasts. And as they liked to go shooting, they also would have a drink or two and... and really spend time talking about literature and talking about guns a great deal.
APPRAISER: Well, you have a great collection here of signed and inscribed books. You have a wonderful picture of Burroughs with George, but then you have this T-shirt, and this really fascinated me, particularly pointing out these three holes. How, how do... What are those? How did they get there?
GUEST: Those are bullet holes.
APPRAISER: And of course, one of the things that when you really get into Burroughs is, of course, his wife in Mexico...
APPRAISER: ...They had been drinking, they decided to play William Tell, he ended up shooting her in the head.
GUEST: It's a tragic story.
APPRAISER: I guess he also had good Mexican lawyers, because he got out. So, having a T-shirt of William Burroughs with bullet holes in the head is even more significant. Tell me about this piece of art.
GUEST: Well, that's a piece of PVC pipe that Burroughs painted from his series called Naked Angels, and he gave that to George and autographed it.
APPRAISER: You have quite a nice collection here and you also have more at home, photographs?
GUEST: We do.
APPRAISER: What type of photographs are they?
GUEST: They're mostly photographs of activities. When they were having parties with people coming in-- Timothy Leary, many of the others from the Beat Generation, for symposiums, and they'd gather at George's house and George would make spaghetti and bread and they'd have a great party.
APPRAISER: I can imagine what those parties must've been like. In any case, this is a really nice collection. You have about 13 items that are not necessarily first editions-- some are-- but they're all very nicely inscribed by Burroughs. The 13 books are probably worth about $2,500 to $3,500 as a group. You have a bullet-holed T-shirt of Burroughs that I... it's hard to put a price on that, but I would think that that would run into the hundreds, if not more. I made a phone call to my office to try to figure out what Burroughs' art is worth. The only piece we could find was about $12,000. I think that was a little bigger than this. I would say this is maybe $3,000 to $5,000. So, you have a collection here that's probably worth $7,000 to $10,000 at a minimum, but the story with it is absolutely wonderful.
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