- Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 18:01
- Published on Wednesday, 10 December 2008 18:01
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This week a student asks about his autographed copy of MY AMERICAN CENTURY by the recently deceased Studs Terkel. He bought it used, and did not know of the autograph until he had gotten it home. He wonders if it is worth more than the $2 he paid, given the author's demise. The condition is like new.
Studs Terkel is an icon in American pop culture. He was born in Chicago in 1912, attended the University of Chicago and its Law School before setting out on a seventy-five-year odyssey as actor, radio host, interviewer, interviewee, and all-around gadfly.
He published MY AMERICAN CENTURY in 1997, and died last month. Clearly the book is worth more now that he is dead. It is also worth more because the inscription merely reads "Peace Studs Terkel." Unless the person to whom the author inscribes the book is famous, the value is greater without a name. A book inscribed to a celebrity is a different story in that provenance, or ownership, is an important factor in evaluating books and other personal property.
This book is worth $40. Not sufficient time has elapsed to know how much greater the value will be due to the author's death. He had an enormous following, which will continue to revere his works. Those admirers who do not have such a copy might be willing to pay significantly more now that the supply is fixed and cannot increase.
I recommend checking on the internet periodically to see what price fluctuations take place over the next year or two. In the meantime, I suggest keeping the book out of sunlight in a closed clear plastic bag to prevent mold, mildew, silverfish or accidental damage.
You made good use of the $2 you spent for this volume.• Lisa and Henry Lane Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. (P.O.Box 35) Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579, a firm which he founded in 1973. The appraisal service began in 1976. Write to him there, or by e-mail at comantqu @ crosslink.net, with pictures and descriptions of items you wish to have him treat in "Antiques Considered."
Please include a stamped, addressed envelope if you wish a personal acknowledgement. Snapshots once sent on to the JOURNAL for publication, cannot be returned.