Wanted Posters in Hotel Ledgers, ca. 1900

Value (2013) | $40,000 Auction$60,000 Auction
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GUEST:
I got three books that looked like they were hotel ledgers down in a town near L.A. It looks like when the ledgers were brought in and people that had wanted posters to put in there, they just glued the wanted posters over the names.

APPRAISER:
So it was like a recycled use of these old ledgers. What I imagine, that the hotel would have kept a record for criminals and wanted people, missing people, and wanted to collect them in some way that they could refer to them to make sure that they weren't in their hotel or, you know, they could tip off whoever to make sure that they were caught. It's an amazing record, and that's what's unusual. We sometimes see one poster, we see two posters, but to get this many-- and you've got three volumes-- and each one has hundreds of bits of ephemera we call it. You've told me that you saw in there one of the most notorious criminals of the turn of the century. Because this is from the late 1890s through the early 1904, 1905, I think I saw. And in here, when you look, if you look pretty carefully through these, we see a wanted circular, they call this. And it would have been put out by the Pinkertons, the great detective agency. And the man by the name of George Parker, whose alias we know much better as Butch Cassidy. So, what we have here is actually a Butch Cassidy wanted circular, which is extremely collectible and very valuable in our estimation. And the other great poster, if you could just help me open this out, this circular that was also put out by Pinkerton's. This one includes our old friend here, Parker, Butch Cassidy, but then here, Sundance-- Sundance Kid, who also was under the alias. His real name is Harry Longabaugh. So, I mean, this is an amazing survivor. In that way, this is like what we always hope to see on the ROADSHOW, is something that can escape time. Do you have any idea about value? Have you done some work on what you think it may be worth?

GUEST:
You know, I've gone to a couple local appraisers, and it's all over their head, they say. So I've called around and I've done a lot of research over the last 15, 20 years on the Internet, and it's hard to find wanted posters for that.

APPRAISER:
It's hard when you have all these different facets to it and how many pieces. Can I ask how much you paid for these three volumes?

GUEST:
It was actually a neighbor that I think maybe got them in some type of sale probably 100 years ago. She was an antique collector and she passed away. And her son inherited them, so he basically just passed these books on to me and wanted me to keep them and go through them.

APPRAISER:
So you were given them, they were a gift.

GUEST:
They were given to me, yes.

APPRAISER:
Excellent. Just, for example, the one broadside that we were looking at, the circle here, this has come up and has sold at auction and I think it was a $15,000 range, something like that. That doesn't surprise me. I haven't seen it for condition. It may not have been mounted, which is something to consider. But with that in mind, the fact that there's three posters, we believe, in here-- I know there's two that I saw in the time that I had with this-- based on that value and what else I saw in there, other potentially interesting things-- it's the kind of thing we would probably want to put in auction at $40,000 to $60,000 on. That's a very broad but a good number, and I know at auction, you'll get the kind of participation that would raise this to a price probably beyond. So, it's a wonderful thing. On conservation, when something is worth that much and in this kind of a setting where this paper can brown-- it's got acidic qualities to it-- it will eventually brown and eat into these papers. They've been mounted. God knows what kind of glue was used. It was probably something very, very bad for paper. So you do want to consider the possibility of getting in touch with an archive conservation center, because many of these things will only exist in maybe one or unknown other copies. So some of these could be extremely rare. Thank you for bringing it in. It was a real nice, beautiful thing.

GUEST:
Thank you.

APPRAISER:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, New York
Appraised value (2013)
$40,000 Auction$60,000 Auction
Event
Anaheim, CA (June 22, 2013)
Form
Ledger, Poster
Material
Paper

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