Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Book, ca. 1920
Appraised Value: $10,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 5
Appraisal Video: (3:55)
Books & Manuscripts
Ken Sanders Rare Books
GUEST: I don't really know a whole lot about the book. I believe it's the first African-American beauty book.
APPRAISER: How did you acquire the book?
GUEST: A friend of mine. I'm a hairdresser, and he gave me the book. He thought I might enjoy it.
APPRAISER: The cover title says it's the textbook of Madam C.J. Walker Schools of Beauty Culture.
APPRAISER: So at first blush, it just seems to be a textbook, and in the antiquarian book trade, we don't think a whole lot of most textbooks, but you really caught my attention when you said that this was an early hair products and hair care and styling book for African-American women.
APPRAISER: That definitely caught my interest.
GUEST: Mine, too.
APPRAISER: Did you learn anything from the book?
GUEST: Actually, I did. There are some home remedies I've tried out of the book, and then some of the product in the book you can no longer get.
APPRAISER: Well, the book's around 100 years old, so...
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Not surprising.
APPRAISER: Let's open the book up here to the title page.
APPRAISER: Here we have The Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Manual. First edition. And it indeed is the very first book published for hair styling and fashion for African-American women, which is very, very unusual. There's one more page I'd like to turn to here in the back that shows some of the hair care products. Quite a big, healthy line of different products.
GUEST: Yes, it was very fascinating to me, looking at it and looking at the prices back then.
APPRAISER: Pretty nostalgic.
GUEST: Yes, yes.
APPRAISER: You said that some of the methods and products involved in the book are still valid today?
GUEST: Some are and some are not.
APPRAISER: Okay. You would know far more about that than I.
GUEST: Yes, I am a licensed beautician.
APPRAISER: What's interesting about this book is Madam Walker was actually Sarah Breedlove. She was born on a Louisiana plantation in 1867.
APPRAISER: Her family were a slave family on a plantation, and she was the first child in her family born into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation.
GUEST: I didn't know that.
APPRAISER: And the company that bears her name is still in business to this day making hair and facial products for African-American women.
APPRAISER: She also, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the first American self-made millionaire female.
GUEST: Are you serious? I didn't know that, either! I had no clue.
APPRAISER: Pretty fascinating.
APPRAISER: Do you have an idea of what the book's worth?
GUEST: Oh, I'm not for sure what it's worth. Maybe $3,000.
APPRAISER: The book's in very good condition. It's not a fine condition copy, but in today's market, with the interest in early and important African-American material, the first edition of this book is scarce enough that at retail, this book would sell for $10,000 plus.
GUEST: (laughing) $10,000?! Are you serious?
APPRAISER: I am serious.
GUEST: Oh, you're kidding!
APPRAISER: No, I'm not.
APPRAISER: Yes, ma'am.
GUEST: (laughing) I don't believe it! Thank you. (laughing)
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