Valuing Book Collections For Probate
When valuing an estate for probate you must include book collections, rare and antiquarian books ephemera or works on paper that have considerable value. If the deceased owned or had an interest in any of these items it becomes part of the estate assets that Inland Revenue will want valued for probate purposes and IHT calculations. Our valuation will be in accordance with HM Revenue and Customs guidelines as the market value and realistic selling price. We use catalogued retail prices or auction prices and taking each item valued on its own individual merit and condition.
To date Avery Associates have never had a valuation rejected by HMRC and we are available to carry out any size or type of book valuation for the purposes of probate. For further advice or a free consultation please contact us on any of the numbers above.
Commonly Asked Questions
The property has a large quantity of books, can you value such a large amount ?
Yes, regardless of how many books are present we are able to value them from a small collection or even a whole library if required
The books have been bequeathed in the will, how do you deal with this ?
Our book specialist will value any book bequests separately so that they can be listed independently in the valuation report
The books are valuable, can you assist in selling them ?
Yes, if the books are worthy of auction we can arrange there entry into a specialist book sale
What happens to books that have little value or no value at all ?
In this case we will donate them on your behalf to one of our charitable contacts
Is my family bible worth anything?
Victorian family bibles do have some value, depending on the binding and the condition, but they are very common and will not make you rich. Bibles before 1800 can be valuable but the most interesting bibles tend to be pre 1650.
We have a complete set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, is it worth much?
Modern technology has made printed encyclopaedias redundant. 20th century sets are of little, or no, value and even charity shops would not welcome them as they would probably end up having to pay to dispose of them.
There are some old books, are they worth much?
Some old books can be worth significant sums of money but just being old does not necessarily make them worth much. Paper books are remarkably resilient and can last for hundreds of years if kept in dry conditions. Many older books have little value as they are out of date or written by authors that are no longer read. In general terms the value of books depends on the collectibillity of the author or subject, the condition of the book and the scarcity of the book. An old book might be scarce but unless someone is interested in the subject or the author then it will have little value.
I have a first edition. What is it worth?
Again, a first edition may have no value if the subject, or author, are not in demand. If the author is collected then their earlier books are often the most collectable because the print runs ar usually smaller, and therefore the books are scarcer, than books published once the author is already famous. A modern example is J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books where the print run of her first book was quite small and therefore strong competition to own them pushes prices up. Her later books were published in the millions so first editions are in plentiful supply and have almost no value.
How can I spot a first edition?
Each publisher has their own style so there is no simple way of giving an answer. In general if there is a date on the title page and nothing on the back of the page saying it is a reprint then it tends to be a first edition. Modern books often have a number line on the back of the title page eg 12345…. or 109876… In either example if the number line ends, or starts, with 1 it tends to be a first and if the 1 is not present it is a reprint. Older books had even less uniformity so spotting first editions can be complicated.
The paper jacket on the book is a bit stained and torn, does this matter?
As with antiques, condition is of immense importance when valuing books. That applies even more with books from the last 50 years or so and with these “modern first editions” the condition of the book and the jacket are crucial. Sometimes the presence of a jackets can multiply the value of a book many times over, particularly with earlier 20th cent. books as the jackets used to be thrown away making them very desirable today.