Assessing the value of your rare items
As a non-profit organization, the Folger Shakespeare Library is not allowed to give an estimate of your item's value, but we are happy to point you to some resources that may be helpful.
The Folger does not authenticate, provide evaluation, or otherwise provide a professional assessment or certification of any rare material being offered for sale or donation, either to the Folger or elsewhere.
The Association of College and Research Libraries has a Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians, which in part states, "Special collections librarians must not engage in any dealing or appraisal of special collections materials, and they must not recommend materials for purchase if they have any undisclosed financial interest in them."
For information and advice on dispersing old books from private collections, we recommend first reading through a guide called “Your Old Books” put together by the American Library Association. It’s an excellent place to start when faced with a personal library containing potentially rare and/or valuable volumes.
To get a general sense of the market value of your books, you may wish to search the following book sites. Additional annotations or hand-illustrated scenes unique to a volume will usually add some value, especially if the writer or artist can be identified, but determining added value from these elements is not an exact science, and the presence or lack of such elements does not guarantee lack or addition of value.
If you decide to have a formal appraisal, we suggest you locate an appraiser through the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. Members of the Association are all required to adhere to a strong code of ethics. A number of them are able to appraise non-book items as well; see their individual listings for details.
For appraisal of works of art, collectibles, memorabilia, furniture, household goods, or other non-book items, the following three professional associations have searchable lists of members. Their members are also required to adhere to the code of ethics of their respective organizations.
Caring for Personal Collections
If you're interested in caring for collections in your home, check out some of these great resources from the Library of Congress, the Northeast Document Conservation Center, the American Institute for Conservation, and others:
Personal Digital Archiving, via Library of Congress The Library of Congress offers several websites on basic collections care, as well as on specific topics like preserving digital materials.
How to Preserve Family Archives, via National Archives NARA, or the National Archives and Records Administration, also offers resources on caring for family collections.
North East Document Conservation Center The NEDCC offers webinars and free resources, as well as professional conservation services.
Collections Care via AIC The American Institute for Conservation offers resources to train and help people interested in preserving cultural heritage materials like books, papers, photographs, and more.