1938 Ray Jerome Baker Book, "Hawaii, the Isle of a Thousand Wonders"
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $6,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (3:44)
GUEST: I'm one of those people that likes to look for what other people throw out. I looked in a Dumpster at a local park, and I found a bunch of books and this was one of them, and I thought it was really unique.
APPRAISER: It's a book called "Hawaii, the Isle of a Thousand Wonders." It's in a sort of nondescript library binding of rather cheap cloth. This is the original cloth binding. As we see, they were photographed and arranged by a man called Ray Jerome Baker, who was born in Illinois in 1880, and he died in 1972. So he was 92 when he died. He spent a lot of his time in California until his late 20s, when he befriended Jack London. He was a photographer, and he had a charge against him in California of pornographic photography, and in 1910, he went to Hawaii, where he seems to have lived ever since. And he became a filmmaker and a photographer and a significant book publisher. Here we have the title page, giving the date of publication, but actually, rather like an old book, he does it as a colophon at the end. And here he is: photographer, but also publisher of fine books.
GUEST: So he published it himself.
APPRAISER: And here we have him talking about Hawaii, the Big Island. And each of these books he published has the especially prepared guard sheet with the title, and there are very fine original photographs that he took of views in the Big Island. And it shows the pre-Pearl Harbor view of the Big Island, a lot of which has not changed. I'm particularly amused by this portion here, which is all relating to Captain Cook. Here indeed is the monument to Captain Cook, where he died, and this land was given to Britain, so this is a little corner of England in the Big Island of Hawaii. And here's another picture of the monument.
GUEST: Any idea on how many of these might have been published?
APPRAISER: There isn't a note of that, but one has to believe that it was a small edition. I would have thought 500 or maybe 1,000. So you say you pulled it out of a Dumpster. So it cost you nothing.
GUEST: It cost me nothing, right.
APPRAISER: Well, Hawaiian books, and particularly books with early photographs, are collected, and the works of Ray Jerome Baker are sought after. The only comparable I can find at a recent auction was at a specialist sale of Hawaiian books in 2004 in New York, where a similar title, but published three years later, in 1941, brought $4,750.
GUEST: Oh, my goodness.
APPRAISER: This being earlier and being focused on the Big Island, I would have thought would have an auction value today of $5,000 to $6,000.
GUEST: I like it.
APPRAISER: Um, so you did very well in the Dumpster.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.