Appraisal Video: (2:45)
Books & Manuscripts
Senior Vice President & International Department Head of Printed Books and Manuscripts
GUEST: Well, these are books that were my mother and father's, all Robert Frost, two first editions. My mother and father were both students, one at Wesleyan and one at Mount Holyoke, and they went together to a reading right when this book was published, and they got these two copies.
APPRAISER: And that was 1930?
GUEST: 1930. And there, they both had Robert Frost sign them, "Amherst, 1930."
APPRAISER: The copy owned by your father differs a little bit. If we open it up, it's the opening line of one of his most beloved poems.
GUEST: Oh, it's the first line from "Mending Wall."
APPRAISER: Yep-- the one that ends "Good fences make good neighbors."
APPRAISER: It's got a lot of memorable lines from it. This is the dust jacket for your father's copy. Your mother did more typically what people did in those days, which was to discard it, and would read the book and hold on to the book. The book here, In the Clearing, was published in 1962...
APPRAISER: And that was the one that includes his poem for JFK's inauguration. And here it's signed by Frost. It doesn't have the date, it doesn't have the place, and it certainly doesn't have a line from the poem. It's simply signed on what we call the limitation page, which describes just how many copies of the book were produced when it was published in 1962. And it says here, it "has been limited to 1,500 numbered copies and signed by the author." So his signature, it's numbered below, number 253, and it's signed by him. In the hierarchy, it's a different book title, so it makes comparison slightly difficult, but what's important to note is when books are being signed, it's often for different reasons. This would be something more mechanically done, where he was sitting there, literally signing them, probably not in front of them. This one shows up, because it was 1,500 copies. In the range of values, at auction, that one would be in the $400 to $600 range. The first one, your mother had it signed. It was simply signed with a date.
GUEST: That's good.
APPRAISER: To get a line from one of his more famous poems, that's better yet, and, ideally, if you could have had him write out the entire... All 30 lines, or whatever. That would have been even better. I would put your mom's book, without the jacket, with the simpler inscription and the simple date and location, I would value that one at about $800 to $1,200. This one, with the line, I would put an estimate of $2,000 to $3,000 on. So it's a nice jump in value, as you can see.
APPRAISER: So altogether, you're looking at about $3,000 to $4,000 for the group.
GUEST: If everything else was equal, the dust jacket would add what?
APPRAISER: No, it wouldn't. The thing is, when a book is inscribed, that overrides a thing like a dust jacket.