Ray Bradbury Archive

Value (2014) | $6,000 Auction$12,000 Insurance
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GUEST:
I have brought you a collection of books by Ray Bradbury. My husband's aunt, Jennet Johnson, was a teacher in Los Angeles High School and taught English.

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh.

GUEST:
When Ray was 17, he took her class in short story writing, and it seems to have been a seminal influence on his writing because he would send her books that had just come out with wonderful dedications in them to her.

APPRAISER:
All the books that are here on display are all inscribed and signed to your aunt. And the first, earliest inscription I found on the copy of the paperback, it's an inscription from 1951 where he is very complimentary to your aunt. It's a lengthy inscription signed by Ray Bradbury. The second inscription that I really liked was done in 1962, and it is in this copy of Ray Bradbury's novel Something Wicked. And this is the presentation copy to the dedicatee.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
He dedicated this book to your aunt, and it says here, "To Miss Johnson, "I've said it all on the dedication page, "but additionally, here is...", and he recreates the design of the cover.

GUEST:
I love that, yes.

APPRAISER:
And then he signs it here, "September 1, 1962." And the dedication page, where he says, in print, "With gratitude to Jennet Johnson, who taught me how to write the short story." And for an English teacher, I think that is an incredible achievement to teach someone like Ray Bradbury how to write, and it is very forthcoming of him to keep her in his heart and to acknowledge her influence. And that reaches all the way into the 1970s, where he published another book that he dedicated to her, and this one is inscribed and signed by Ray Bradbury. In addition to all this, can you tell me a little bit about the letter that you brought?

GUEST:
I knew that Ray loved Auntie Jane, and when she died, I sent him a short note to let him know that she was gone. And this is the letter he wrote in response, in which he talks about how much she meant to him.

APPRAISER:
Yes, it is an extremely moving and emotional letter. I was so impressed by this group and also by the way it reaches from 1951 all the way to 1979. Have you had the books ever appraised?

GUEST:
No, we never have. Auntie Jane would send them to us as she got them, and we are saving them for our boys. We don't intend to sell them.

APPRAISER:
Well, if you were to offer the books at auction, I would recommend to keep them all together. My conservative estimate would be $6,000 to $8,000.

GUEST:
Goodness. Okay, that's good to know. We will take good care of them.

APPRAISER:
I would figure the insurance to be right around $12,000.

GUEST:
Okay, good.

APPRAISER:
There's just one thing that would make a wonderful difference: if you had also his most famous book, Fahrenheit 451.

GUEST:
Oh, I know.

APPRAISER:
A nice copy of a first edition of that with an inscription could easily sell for $10,000, $15,000.

GUEST:
Oh, goodness gracious.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, NY
Bonhams, NY
Appraised value (2014)
$6,000 Auction$12,000 Insurance
Event
Santa Clara, CA (June 07, 2014)
Material
Paper

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