1852 "Uncle Tom's Cabin" with Letter
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $5,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (2:33)
Books & Manuscripts
Brattle Book Shop
GUEST: I brought my copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and I believe it's a first edition, and there's a letter from the author in it.
APPRAISER: First of all, what you brought was a beautifully leather-bound first edition, but it's not the first American edition, and the first American is the first. It was done in 1852, but it was done in Boston originally in two volumes. What you have is an 1852 edition... It's the first London, the first English edition. It came out a little after the Boston edition, and then it was illustrated by an illustrator called George Cruikshank. He did a lot of Dickens illustrations, and so on. So it was actually one of the first great American best-sellers-- there were a few before it, but it was a tremendous best-seller. It immediately was published in London. What really makes this book is the letter. What the letter says is, "Dear children, "you will soon be men and women, "and I hope you will learn from this story "always to remember and pity the poor and oppressed. "When you grow up, show your pity "by doing all that you can for them. "Very sincerely, your friend, Harriet Beecher Stowe, July 14, 1893." Now, the letter was obviously done a number of years after the book came out, but how did your grandmother get it?
GUEST: I am not completely sure how she got it. I just inherited it after she passed away. It was part of a large collection she had. It's written to the "children," and the children we believe are my great-grandmother, because she was related to the Clevelands.
APPRAISER: Probably somebody wrote to Harriet Beecher Stowe, said, "We're studying the book," and said, "Could you write something about it?" And this is showing the real thought and the sentiment in what she was trying to get across in the book. You mentioned the name "the Clevelands." Who were the Clevelands?
GUEST: President Cleveland. I believe my great-grandmother was a niece or a cousin to him.
APPRAISER: Now, they pasted the letter into the book. It'd probably be a little better if they didn't paste it in. But it's a great item. The book itself, if you just had the book in this beautiful leather binding, 1852 London, in a bookstore, it would probably be about a $1,000 to $1,500 book. But as I said, what really makes it is that letter, and the letter would bring it up to $3,000 to $5,000, and that's a conservative retail estimate.
GUEST: Oh, my... wow.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 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.