South Dakota Brand Books
Appraised Value: $3,520 - $5,600 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 7
Appraisal Video: (3:22)
Books & Manuscripts
Brattle Book Shop
GUEST: Well, they're South Dakota registered cattle brand books, recorded at the state level. There's a South Dakota Brand Board that oversees all this, and it's been enforced since before 1900.
APPRAISER: Well, when you go through them, they literally are all of the brands. They register them so that they can graze.
GUEST: If the cattle stray or if the owner for any reason needs to lay claim on them, that he's assured they're going to get back to him.
APPRAISER: Do you collect these?
APPRAISER: Or, where did you get them?
GUEST: It's kind of my hobby. It's an everyday hunt for me. I'm always looking for them.
APPRAISER: Where do they tend to show up?
GUEST: My best source has been ranch auctions. If you're lucky, you'll find them in a box with a bunch of books.
APPRAISER: Do you know what you average when you bought them, what you paid?
GUEST: Anywheres from $30, $40 on up.
APPRAISER: On up? Maybe high end of it?
GUEST: I don't know if I dare to say. My wife might be listening.
APPRAISER: All right. (laughs) Many of these still being used, or do you know?
GUEST: There's always an update. This is the '55. 1955 is the latest year here, but I have up until current time. But I'm still missing a few in between.
APPRAISER: So I think it was in about the 1860s that the Dakotas had a law for branding. It was about the 1880s that the journal, the newspaper out here, started publishing and picturing the brands, and then what happened is in 1898, they actually had an association and this is the first brand book that they ever came out with. I notice it's not in particularly good condition.
GUEST: Well, you must be aware that this was maybe carried in a saddle bag on a horse. Might have been in a pocket carried around, in all kinds of weather.
APPRAISER: This is the 1901 edition and it's in very good condition. This one maybe sat in the ranch house or something. And then we get some into the '30s, '40s, '50s. Let's start talking about the price. First of all, the first book, which is incredibly rare, even in the condition that it's in, that one would be $1,500, $2,500 easily, conservatively, on a retail basis. The second one that you have, that one probably $750 to $1,000. I mean, they're quite collectible. Then, when you start getting into the ones in the '30s and '40s, $300 to $500 would be reasonable. And then the last couple of them, those start getting the $30, $40, $50 that you might have spent at auction probably a reasonable price. And, if this first one had been in good condition, I mean really fine, you'd easily be talking $4,000, $5,000, maybe even $6,000.
APPRAISER: And I would bet you would have people lining up to get it from you if they could.
APPRAISER: Thank you. Thank you for bringing them in.
GUEST: You're welcome. Enjoyed it.
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