Collect “The Best You Can Afford” and one more thought…

Professional antiquarian dealers have advised probably forever to “collect the best you can afford” in your area of interest and focus. This is true for all collectors, Private, Libraries and Institutional however the B word (as in budget) always seems to curtail this wise advice. Another barrier is dependent on the stage the collector is at and how long they have been collecting. People newer to collecting often collect items they like without a focus of investment. So budget and experience are some common realities and barriers to this wise collect the best you can advice. Most do the best they can,  to improve  collections (condition, provenance, edition) and  upgrade to a much better item as budget and experience allows.

Sometimes however, with truly rare items this is not always possible. The key is to know what is truly rare especially in light of  items now appearing to be not so rare as thought and so another piece of wise advice.

Learn to recognize a truly rare item(s) and if they within your collecting focus, find a way to purchase the item(s). Some collectors pass on rare items in the belief something similar will come along at a later date. Or they will feel the price of the items is far too high and pass. This approach has taught many collectors a lesson in rarity… the one that got away. How many times have we read about the increase in prices of “the higher end or more expense items”. These more expensive items are generally strong investments for price appreciation and still high in emotional value for the collector to own. The best of both worlds.

Interestingly at a November 24th, 2014 auction,  well known book dealer, Bill Resse, spent about $1.4 million of the $2.3 million the sale raised, his purchases 60% for stock and 40% for collectors according to Thomas. C. McKinney’s A&E January 2015 article. This is not the news or the point. The point is Bill Resse believed the rarity of the material offered trumps the library bindings and condition of many of the items.  So he was a bidder, and in fact almost the single winning bidder, buying the biggest items for clients and a trove of other very rare items for his firm.  In other words, Bill invested 40% of 1.4 million dollars or $560,000 in items many other professional dealers and collectors passed on. He bought wholesale and will sell these items for much more at his retail. Bill had this to say, “Condition was an issue and was variable.  Some items were very nice.  Others will be replaced with bindings respectful of what they are.  I was very pleased.”

TRACMC copyBill’s investment decision confirms to mean at least, the rarity and importance of a collectable item can and does trump condition in today’s market. So “collect the best you can afford” and if one or more or those items are truly rare you will be a wiser and possibly  a wealthier collector beyond the emotional currency you will enjoy.

Does Lord Durham Rare Books (LDRB) have the best and truly rare items? We think we have a number of highly valuable and collectible pieces worth consideration such as  the Brock signed 1810 court martial document for example. To my knowledge there is no British (Canadian) court martial documents from 1800-1850 at least to be found anywhere other than what we are offering!
Browse the featured items to discover a number of items that are truly rare and if they are in your collecting focus may well  be  worth your consideration!

Click here for our Top Ten List of our Rare and more interesting items


Article written by Duncan McLaren ( and reviewed by Julia McLaren, The Lord Durham Report editor ( )

© text and  images Lord Durham Rare Books, all rights reserved.


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