Twenty or so people had shown up with their treasures in tote bags…


Photograph by Veronica_k

From The New York Times:

My mother said the book would be valuable one day. Her only regret was that over the years of reading it to me and my sister, she had been careless about pulling it off the shelf and had torn the delicate red leather of the spine. Still, it was a first English edition of “Winnie-the-Pooh,” dated 1926. Slim, soft and well loved, it was the copy she had had as a child and when she died, she left it to me.

I read the book many times over to my son when he was little, relishing the familiar feel of it in my hand and the memories it conjured up, and then I put it away. Covered in butcher paper to protect it from sunlight, my heirloom sat securely on the shelf for years until just recently, when a fit of downsizing zeal coupled with a desire for some ready cash led me to peer urgently around our house in search of items to sell. I was thinking about books in particular because our local bookstore was hosting an evening, complete with a single bottle of wine, at which people could show an expert books they thought might be valuable. What the hell, I thought, let’s see what Winnie is worth.

My mother would have been fine with this. She was not in the least bit sentimental about stuff, and she got real pleasure from chucking our childish scribbles and school reports — “too much clutter!” She was pretty bracing in general. When she told me that I would inherit her platinum and diamond engagement ring, she added, “Because, darling, I doubt you’ll be getting diamonds any other way!”

Channeling my mother, I marched off to the bookstore. Twenty or so people had shown up with high hopes and their treasures in tote bags. One by one, we diffidently presented our items to Heather, the charming expert, telling her about their provenance.

“How Much Is This Old Thing Worth?”, Helen Rogan, The New York Times