Condition and pricing…

October 10, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Many collectors may wonder what the relationship is between the condition of a newspaper and its price.  Obviously the condition of a newspaper is subjective, and some problems bother some collectors more than others. But for issues offered through our company here are my thoughts as to how I price our newspapers:

* “Natural” faults are less of a problem than human-created. By this I mean problems with foxing (a darkening of portions due to the natural aging of the chemicals in the paper or the environment in which the newspaper was stored), folds, and minor edge tears. Such disfigurements are to be expected with newspapers of a certain age, and if considerable do affect the price but less so than other disfigurements. Even water staining I would consider a natural fault and can be excused as something to be expected and a minor problem if not causing loss of readability.

* Human-created disfigurements would include old tape mends & stains, trimming at the margins such that  letters or words are partially shaved (caused when the bindery cuts too close to the text), lengthy tears into text, holes, portions clipped, etc.  Such problems are annoying & could have been avoided with better care and I tend to discount the price of a newspaper more liberally than newspapers with natural faults. How much? It depends on the degree of the problem, so subjectivity is very important. If a newspaper has a noteworthy report which is not affected by the damage, it would be discounted less than had the notable report been affected. A small 2 by 1 inch piece clipped from the back leaf would be discounted less than a 2 by 10 inch clipped issue. A disfigurement to an inside page might result in a minimal price adjustment if the issue is offered for the displayability of the front page.

* Irregular margins, caused when a newspaper is improperly removed from a bound volume, will result in lowered values if the irregularity causes loss of  type. Most irregular margins involve only the blank spine & the price adjustment would be minimal.

* Some damaged issues are relegated to our damaged pile to be sold in lots of 100 or more at a discounted price. But rare or historic issues are offered individually & priced according to the damage. Many collectors are attracted to damaged, discounted newspapers as they provide an opportunity for rare or historic reports at a much lower cost.

* Particularly bothersome to me are issues which are close-trimmed. Had the worker doing the trimming at the bindery been more carefully such faults could easily be avoided.

* Less bothersome are wear problems with “never bound” newspapers. Such issues are in their natural state as provided to the subscriber or sold on the newsstand, and logically tend to be more worn than issues taken from bound volumes. Such natural wear, when minimal, adds a certain patina to the item and would not detract from its value. For serious collectors, never-bound issues are preferable to issues from bound volume, but tend to be considerably less common.

* Guillotined issues, which are mechanically cut cleanly at the spine to facilitate microfilming, is a minor disfigurement if ample spine margin remains. Depending on the issue we might rejoin the issue at the spine with glue, rejoin using archival tape, or simply keep the issue loose.

* Repairing issues can be controversial.  Some believe in repairing tears and others prefer they be left as is. In general I tend to repair rather than not repair. My primary reason is to prevent further tearing which can occur when a leaf is turned, as a tear is a weak spot which often gets worse when handling. We use a very thin strip of archival tape which does not stain and is almost invisible if properly used. When an issue is extensively repaired mention is made in the description. A newspaper’s price may be affected when archivally repaired, depending on the extensiveness of such repairs.