It’s Old, But Is It Valuable?

- by Michael Stillman

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However, for every dark there is a dawn, every cloud has a silver lining. Don’t despair if your old books, like mine, aren’t particularly valuable. There are many opportunities here for collectors on a budget. You are not obligated to collect expensive items that too many others already desire. You can be a pioneer in a field no one else has discovered. Everyone collects American presidents. How about vice-presidents, like William R. King? We now know that you can start your vice-presidential collection for around $15.

Or, you can look at books from a different perspective. For example, how about collecting local imprints? A book that might otherwise be unimportant and of little value may be of major significance to someone interested in a particular obscure imprint. You might collect books about your community, or some famous (but not too famous) local resident or someone you admire. Maybe no one else yet collects this place or person. You can be first. Perhaps someday others will collect it, and that rare but once unwanted book will become very desirable to those who follow you.

By being first, you can fill your collection on a small budget. And you will enjoy your collection just as much as the wealthy collector enjoys his. Overlooked books can be every bit as fascinating as the titles everyone knows. And you can become the world’s leading expert in your field. How many Lincoln collectors can make that claim?