Due to my appearances on Pawn Stars, a number of viewers have asked me to appraise or otherwise evaluate their books. At this point in time, I do not offer private evaluations.
I cannot ethically value any book I have not inspected in person.
In the past I have tried from time to time to assist requests in the basic judgment of whether “this needs an official appraisal”–as an extremely unofficial and not by any means authoritative suggestion. However, at this point I receive so many requests that I no longer have the time to offer even general comments on books. At this time I work only as a dealer, and do not provide private appraisals, even at an hourly rate.
Here are a few options to consider in getting an official evaluation for your books.
1. Visit the website of the American Appraisers’ Association.
On their helpful homepage, there is a button that says “Find An Appraiser.” “Option 2” on the next page allows you to search for people who are certified in appraising Books and Manuscripts. You can search for a nearby appraiser using this tool.
2. Talk to your home insurance provider.
Often providers of home insurance also have arms that deal with antiques and collectibles. Give your provider a call to see what sort of options or referrals are available through them.
3. Call your local university library’s Special Collections.
When Special Collections receive donations of rare books, these generally require a lot of paperwork–which often means the necessity of an appraiser or someone similarly qualified to do this paperwork. Therefore, they may be able to refer you to someone whom they have used in your area.
There is also a possibility a specialist at the library can give you a general evaluation of your books (w/o paperwork for taxes, insurance, etc.). However, this will vary greatly from library to library, so please be conscientious and courteous if you want to ask about this option–especially since you are asking to receive the benefit of their specialized expertise free of charge. That said, it is generally unlikely that the library itself will be in a position to provide you with a specific value assessment, even “unofficially,” so I’d like to stress that this third option is much more practical as a source to acquire a local referral, not to get a direct evaluation.
I have many contacts in the rare book trade who actively buy books from private individuals. If you are looking to sell (rather than simply learning the value), please feel welcome to contact me.