QUESTION: I want to sell old (1960 and older) hardcover art books. They are in very good condition and still have their dust jackets. In addition, I have old art periodicals. What advice do you have?
– TM, Lancaster, PA, via e-mail
ANSWER: Selling art reference books, especially if they are coffee table books, is difficult and time consuming. The resale market for periodicals is even tougher.
First, check the secondary “asking price” market by researching the titles on abebooks.com and bookfinder.com. Since many books experience multiple printings and editions, make certain your book and the listing description match. Also, all the books listed have yet to sell. Keep this in mind when determining the price that will make you happy when you sell your books. The more copies of a title listed, the greater the probability that the book will be a tough sell.
Consider grouping the titles into lots by type, e.g., books about painters, painting styles, etc., and selling them on an Internet auction, e.g., eBay. Start with an opening bid of $0.99. You already made the decision that they no longer have any value to you, so any money is better than no money.
Some local auctioneers conduct book auctions once or twice a year. Consign your books only to one of these specialized auctions. Avoid consigning them to a general sale. You are fortunate. The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society (2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster, PA 17602; www.lmhs.org) conducts book auctions. Contact the LMHS to determine what interest, if any, they might have in selling your books.
Several of the colleges in your area have undergraduate and graduate programs in art. Also see if there are private art schools in your area. Young art students are eager buyers of reference material. Post a list of the titles you have for sale, each followed by your asking price. Consider offering the collection as a single lot, i.e., one payment buys them all. Discount the value by 25 percent to make the purchase price attractive.
Visit the reference librarian at your local library and ask for a list of antiquarian book dealers in the area. Your art books may not be old enough to interest them, but it always pays to ask.
You can offer the books at a garage or yard sale. If taking this option, the books need to be priced at $5 or less. People who shop garage sales expect to pay ten cents on the dollar.
If the above fails, consider donating the books to your pubic library’s annual book sale and taking a tax deduction. If the value of your gift is below $500, you do not need a gift letter.
QUESTION: The Beatles were popular in the early Sixties. I was a fan. I was looking through some of the things I saved, among which was a Bazooka Beatles bubble gum card wrapper. What is its value?
– BK, Prairie du Chein, WI, via e-mail
ANSWER: Topps issued five sets of Beatles bubble gum cards. Three 1964 black and white series featured images related to the movie A Hard Day’s Night. Series 1, cards numbered 1 through 50, had blue facsimile signatures on the front and blue or green numbers on the backs. Series, 2, cards numbered 61-115, had blue facsimile signatures on the front and orange or green numbers on the back. Series 3, numbers 116-165, had blue facsimile signature on the front and green numbers on the back. A gum wrapper from this series books at $25.
The survival rate for complete packs and gum wrappers is higher for Beatles trading cards than most other sets. Beatles fan were savers.
Two full-color series also were issued in 1964. The Color Card series had 64 cards with questions and answers along with vital statistic on the back. The Diary Card series included 60 cards and featured a Beatle diary entry on the back.
The color photo series wrappers contained one of four extra images, e.g., “Bazooka,” an “Exploding Battleship,” and “Sea Shell Hobby Kit.” Like the wrappers from the black and white series, wrappers from the color photo series are easy to find. Book value is $20.
Given their high survival rate, your chances of obtaining book value is slim to none. Most Beatles collectors would rather have a full pack than just the wrapper. A Beatles “Bazooka” wrapper recently sold on eBay for $9.99 plus shipping and handling, a far more realistic reflection of what your wrapper is worth.
QUESTION: I have an Esther Hunt “Marigold” chalk bust. There are some flakes, but none on the face. Can you tell me its approximate age and value?
– DMcC, Kingsport, TN, via e-mail
ANSWER: Esther Hunt was born in Grand Island, Nebraska on Aug. 30, 1875. In 1881 her family moved to a ranch near San Diego. In her early 20s (circa 1896-1900), she worked as an artist in Los Angeles.
Hunt began her formal art training in 1901 at the Mark Hopkins Institute in San Francisco. She painted pictures of individuals living in Chinatown and sold them through a New York art dealer to finance her education. After studying with William M. Chase in New York in 1905-1906, she spent the next six years in Paris.
Hunt returned to Los Angeles and then lived in San Francisco, 1918-1927. She moved to Greenwich Village in New York City in 1927, returning to San Francisco for the period 1932 to 1946. A stroke ended her career. She was moved to the Santa Ana (California) Rest Home, dying there on March 4, 1951. She never married.
He artwork—ceramics, etchings, oils, and watercolors—were extremely popular, appearing on calendars, postcards, and prints. Children were her favorite theme. Her signature work features young children from San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Donna Yick’s “Esther Hunt: A Collector’s Guide” (Poco Books, 261 Bayshore Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94124) is the primary reference book on Hunt. Visit www.estherhuntart.com to learn more.
Hunt offered several chalk busts, including Lotus Bud, Marigold, and Peach Flower. Their primary secondary market is the West Coast, especially the San Francisco area. In this market, a bust in very good or better condition sells in excess of $300. However, in Tennessee, where you are located, a bust in fair to good condition is valued between $100 and $125. If the flakes are numerous, halve the value.
QUESTION: My grandfather had a copper still that was used ‘in the day” to do a little moonshining. It has been collecting dust on his porch for a few decades, and he would like to sell it.
– CM, Wausau, WI, via e-mail
ANSWER: I most certainly do not recommend you advertise the sale of your moonshine still in the local media, e.g., newsprint or radio. You do not want to attract the attention of Federal Revenue agents.
While it is not illegal to own a still, it is illegal to produce non-taxed alcohol. Stills were part of many rural farms, both before, during, and after Prohibition. Homemade libation was and is a family tradition in many cultures.
The pictures attached to your e-mail indicate your still is a very a basic unit, i.e., a boiler and a long coil. Both appear to be in heavily used condition.
Your still does have value. The first is scrap. The value for scrap copper is high at the moment. Look into this option.
Second, the still has decorative/conversation value. If placed in a living room or den, it will draw its fair share of conversation value. Its decorative value is between $30 and $40.
While it might have reuse value in the hands of a skilled operator, it is best to ignore this opportunity.
Since the old still has been in your family for a long time, keep it and tell grandfather stories about it.
Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out his Web site.
You can listen and participate in “WHATCHA GOT?,” Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.
“SELL, KEEP OR TOSS? HOW TO DOWNSIZE A HOME, SETTLE AN ESTATE, AND APPRAISE PERSONAL PROPERTY” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site: http://www.harryrinker.com
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected letters will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Photos and other material submitted cannot be returned. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5093 Vera Cruz Road, Emmaus, PA 18049. You also can e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.
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