Appraisal: 1935 Signed “Porgy & Bess” Book
Take a look at Ken Gloss's appraisal of a 1935 Signed "Porgy & Bess" Book, in Vintage Salt Lake City.
GUEST: My husband's great-uncle Henry was an avid book collector. When my husband's
father died, the book collection came to us. We've just treasured it. Uh, reason I brought
it in today was because I was wondering if we should invest in some work on the, on the
APPRAISER: All right, well, first of all, "Porgy and Bess" is one of the great American
classics. There's no question. The front page is beautifully illustrated. This book was
printed in 1935. Gershwin and Heyward got together about a year or so earlier, and they
put together the opera. And it's "the" American opera. I mean, it's fabulous. It was also
a flop. One of the problems they had with it was, opera lovers didn't think it was an
opera, there was a racial issue, and then it was hugely expensive. It ran a little over
a hundred, uh, performances, but didn't go anywhere. You have the music. But the best
thing about this book is, when you get to the back... This is the limited edition, one
of 250 copies, this is number 164, and it's signed by George Gershwin, Heyward, Ira Gershwin,
the director... It's one of 250 copies that all of them signed. And, of course, George
Gershwin died just a few years later, tragically, at eight-- 38 years old. What he produced
in doing something like this, I just wonder what could have gone on after that. Ira lived
long on into his 80s. After George Gershwin died, then "Porgy and Bess," in the '40s,
became a classic. In the '50s, they did a movie with Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier.
There are some condition problems. The hinge is a little bit cracked. The box is a little
bit worn around the edges. It would be very easy for a good bookbinder to repair. In the
condition it's in now, it's probably worth $5,000, maybe $7,000. With a little bit of
restoration-- maybe $200, $300, $400-- it's probably closer to $10,000.
GUEST: My... Is this a grasscloth?
APPRAISER: Yeah, and, and it's very much integral...
APPRAISER: ...to the value.