1935 "Porgy & Bess" Book
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:32)
Books & Manuscripts
Brattle Book Shop
GUEST: My husband's great-uncle Henry was an avid book collector, and when my husband's father died, the book collection came to us, and we've just treasured it. The reason I brought it in today was because I was wondering if we should invest in some work on the spine.
APPRAISER: All right, well, first of all, Porgy and Bess is one of the great American classics. There's no question. The front page is beautifully illustrated. This book was printed in 1935. Gershwin and Heyward got together about a year or so earlier. Gershwin could finally start writing in Charleston in '34, and they put together the opera. And it's the American opera. I mean, it's fabulous. It was also a flop. One of the problems they had with it was opera lovers didn't think it was an opera. There was a racial issue, and then it was hugely expensive. It ran a little over 100 performances but didn't go anywhere. You have the music, but the best thing about this book is when you get to the back... this is the limited edition, one of 250 copies. This is number 164. And it's signed by George Gershwin, Heyward, Ira Gershwin, the director. It's one of 250 copies that all of them signed. And of course, George Gershwin died just a few years later, tragically, at 38 years old. What he produced in doing something like this, I just wonder what could have gone on after that. Ira lived long on into his 80s. After George Gershwin died, then Porgy and Bess in the '40s became a classic. In the '50s, they did a movie with Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier. There are some condition problems. The hinge is a little bit cracked. The box is a little bit worn around the edges. It would be very easy for a good book binder to repair, to reproduce... In the condition it's in now, considering this is a little loose, there's a little bit of a crack, there's a little bit of the spine that needs restoration, it's probably worth $5,000, maybe $7,000. With a little bit of restoration, maybe $200, $300, $400, it's probably closer to $10,000.
GUEST: My. Is this a grass cloth?
APPRAISER: Yeah, and it's very much integral to the value.
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