The Wisdom of Wisden!
A ‘good run’ is a term used in book circles to suggest that a series of books is in a healthy condition, as in if there are perhaps 100 in total and a person is in possession of let’s say 97, then that is considered a ‘good run’. If all 100 were owned, then that is considered an ‘excellent run’ and a ‘fine collection’.
Now, if that ‘good run’ was in pretty good condition, it would be further considered a jolly healthy collective. If however it was in mint condition then it would be a valuable collection, and by mint l am referring to still in the original wrappers [covers], no nicks, very few scrapes, no missing pages, no doodles within [unless the author had penned them there and then that would be classed as a rare or even an antiquity.
A collector of a series is looking for as many mints as they can get their mitts on, and of course the collectors themselves vary in accordance to what they deem a jolly good run and a very good run to an acceptable purchase of said runs.
A book could be in prime pristine condition, in it’s original wrapper and not rebound, no pages torn or missing, no unnecessary marks and so on, and might hold a high value. If it does and a buyer collector purchases it, it might then be awarded a new home for life or indeed to be purchased as an investment with a view to selling on………
Many, many years ago, l managed to find whilst attending a jumble sale [car boot or garage sale for an idea] held by the local Scouts in my village hall in St John, Woking, a copy of the original “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, published in 1831 by Victor Hugo in French – First Volume which l bought for an astonishing 5pence!!
It was a bit raggedy around the edges, but had been discarded by an elderly lady from her mansion in Woking, as part of the collection of ‘odd bits and bots’ belonging to her husband who had passed away the year before.
I have always loved books, and possessed a healthy interest in these golden gems, as well as researched thousands upon thousands of articles, and up until perhaps ten years ago was still dabbling in book sales, so whilst l am no professional by any standards l am still quite savvy.
It was no less different when l was 17 in 1980, when l had been doing house clearances with my Mother and we came across all sorts of goodies back then, Nguni shields, assegai, flintlocks, stuffed animals, rare furniture, coins, old cameras and books, so l was pretty clued up. So upon discovery of this 5 pence book, with no cover, l knew pretty quickly l had bagged me a good un!
I had, l cleaned it up as best as l could, and took it to the book shop in Guildford, who specialised in all books but also in ‘rares’ and l sold it to them. How much for l hear you ask? I paid for a two year catering college course in Guildford Technical College and l still had change from my £4500 profit!
Now that was considered a real bargain buy now 38 years ago. I was much luckier back then, we still lived in an avid age of readers of books, collectors of old books and whilst even then we had specialists, they weren’t so much specialists as just very keen to own rare books. Back then, you didn’t need to be above the age of fifty to appreciate books…..
…………. I have had my Father’s collection of Wisden’s valued with regards probate. They didn’t come in at ‘everyone’s expectations of value. It doesn’t matter how many times l tell these non book savvy ‘experts’ that is IS ONLY a probate value, and not a sales value, they are still all honking on about my Father’s collection of Wisden’s, and that l must be wise and if needs be hang on to them till their price improves. It matter’s not that l tell them, that his good run started in 1864 and ran through till 2018 with only 4 missing and therefore that is still 132 odd books that l would have to store somewhere in my house.
It matter’s not that l tell them, that even in a buoyant market the good parts of the good run, which are the old browns might only be worth a certain value, and as we are not in an under fifties buoyant market for an elitist almanac cricket book – they still seemingly believe the collection is worth an absolute fiortune!
“Make is a special project fella!” Motivates my Uncle, “Bit o work, and you are probably looking at £30k!”
“No, we are not, probate value on the Wisden’s is just under £7k, l would say auction we might fetch around £12k if the collection is bought intact. Considering Dad has only ever spent out about £3k on the browns, that is still not a bad return. The yellows which number 87 are only worth £10 on the rebuy.”
“But they each cost £55 to buy brand new!!” The Uncle retorted back.
“Yes, but honestly they are reprints and new alone, and new books don’t have a lot of value in them, the yellows probate is a tenner each, auction they might fetch £15/20 per piece. But no more. As they make up the bulk of the collection, l think you’ll find that the auction value of £12k might be a tad steep. It all depends upon what a buyer wishes to part with, buyers determine the value of anything.”
“No, no, some of those are worth £3K each if there was a day for sure, for sure!”
“Yes if they were mint condition and kept well, not too much heat, no damp, no cold, no tears and scrapes and all in new covers, sure. But Dad’s at best is just a secondhand secondhand collection.”
So the family are up in arms thinking that l am deliberately trying to undersell the damn Wisden’s. So l said to them, “Fine, l tell you what. I think they might be worth £12k, so l will sell them to you for that value, which is very fair especially to those who think that lot is worth £30K. Tell you what, why don’t you use that little bit of wisdom and make the Wisden’s a special project? Sit on them for a while …..?”
Funny, as of yet, l have had no takers!