Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2009 Issue

Yes, It Is Still Legal to Sell Old Children's Books

Cpsc

The CPSC issues a clarification which appears to make it safe to sell old children's books.


By Michael Stillman

A collective sigh of relief was heard recently from sellers of old children's books. It is, after all, legal to continue selling these books without undertaking expensive testing for lead content.

Last summer, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued new rules, limiting the lead content of children's products to 600 parts per million as of February 10, 2009 (with further decreases later on). There is also an independent testing requirement to establish that products meet this limitation. However, this rule does not apply only to goods produced after February 10. It also applies to all goods produced for children in the past. In other words, that 1798 primer you wish to sell to the 70-year-old book collector might have required costly independent testing to establish lead content below the maximum allowable standard before you could make the sale.

Fortunately, it now appears that common sense has prevailed. On January 8, the CPSC issued a clarification of the new rule. It is still a violation to sell children's products with too high a lead content even if manufactured prior to the enforcement date. Merchants are also warned not to sell items likely to have a high lead content without testing or some other evidence that the content is not too high. However, the clarification specifies, "The new safety law does not require resellers to test children's products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold." In other words, to sort this one out, it is not necessary to do independent testing and certification of older items if there is no reason to believe it would have an unlawfully high lead content. That would seem to apply to books and printed matter, which are not known to have been made with lead parts or paint.

The announcement goes on to state that while all resellers are required to abide by provisions of the new law, there are certain categories to which special attention should be given. Among these are cribs, children's jewelry, and painted toys. Books are not on the list. So, unless your old children's books have pictures hand-colored with lead paint, or something else similarly unusual, it would appear that you are free to go on selling them without fear.

Technically, this may only relieve the burden on old books sellers currently have in stock, not ones purchased for inventory after February 10. However, a separate sentence looks like it should apply to later purchased old books: "Sellers of used children's products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits..." Certainly thrift shops and other resellers of old children's products could not stay in business for long without restocking inventory. This sentence would appear to imply that it is acceptable to continue buying old children's books for stock without having to test and certify them.

The CPSC's clarification can be found on the following page: click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
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    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
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