If you’re anything like me, when you do a search for a signed book on the many various book services in cyber-space — not to mention eBay — you want a SIGNED book; but up pops such qualifiers as “signed on sticker,” “signed sheet laid in,” “signed envelope inserted.”
A signed sticker, sheet or envelope does not a signed book make, although many well meaning amateur sellers and even some professional booksellers would have you believe that it does. To me it has even less merit than a facsimile dust-jacket which makes your copy more attractive though does not add any value to the book, a signed sticker defaces a book; it’s an unattractive thing pasted oftentimes on the title-page that never belonged there in the first place! Does it add value to a book. Well, if you think a piece of paper signed by a noted author is worth something then what you have is a $100 copy of a book with a $20 dollar autographed piece of paper stuck in it. But it ads no value to the book.
Now does this mean that all books with signed plates, stickers or some other type of impedimenta is valueless? Well, no. You see there were/are, some books that were issued with signed stickers, signed inserted envelopes, and signed sheets. The difference being, the book was issued that way!
Fantasy Press — at additional cost to the customer — published a limited plated edition, signed, numbered and often inscribed to the original purchaser in addition to their regular edition, as an extra page bound in; Carcosa Press offered you a glued in signed plate at no additional cost if you paid for your copy in advance; Underwood/Miller published a limited edition of Jack Vance’s — The Dying Earth — with a special paper and a signed, numbered sticker glued onto the last page; Gerry de la Ree published a special hardcover edition of fifty copies of Grotesques & Fantastiques by Clark Ashton Smith, with a signed envelope from CAS to Samuel Loveman laid-in; Donald M. Grant for his edition of The Banner of Joan by H. Warner Munn, issued after publication, a number of signed sheets to be laid in or glued into your copy as you saw fit, because when the book arrived at the World Fantasy Convention, the author was sick and unable to sign; and for Harlan Ellison’s — Shatterday — Houghton, Mifflin issued an illustrated plate of 1000 copies to be distributed at the Ellison signing at Noreascon. Now these are but a few examples of when a glued, laid-in, loosely inserted, or bound in signed sheet IS valuable because it was issued by the publisher intentionally to go with the book as would a dust-jacket.
If we give any monetary credence to signed paraphernalia in books, then we discount the value of a book that was/is indeed signed by the author! A superfluous piece of signed paper can be inserted into any copy of a book (even a book published after the author's death!) but a book signed by the author is an entity truly unique and
deserving of the value befitting it!
p.s. Here's yet another example to further confuse the mix!
After Lord Dunsany's death, Lady Dunsany sold extra copies of her husband's
books advertised as "signed" copies. Upon receipt there were pasted in signatures
cut from letters etc. Now where in our evaluations would we place this item?
Was it issued thus? No. BUT it DID come from the source and Dunsany
would've handled it. I would value such a copy as having additional value
because of the provenance and pasted in signature but NOT up to the value
of a true signed copy. How you would value such an item is of course up to you!
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