Re: Living trust & DB
I doubt that a formal appraisal is necessary. I would just list each
item, what you paid, when and where you acquired it .. then double
the total for insurance purposes.
Over time, you can adjust the amount upward by 5% or 10% a year to
keep pace with both inflation and posssibly increased collector
interest. Insurance companies don't care about most collectibles;
unless you have an item valued over $500 or $1000, they just lump
everything into "household goods." Years ago, when I had renter's
insurance, 3 different companies just said, "Tell us how much you
think it would cost to replace everything you own; no itemization
needed." The only separate rider was for a large painting by Howard
Valuing collectibles of any kind is subjective at best. Original
artwork is valued differently than books, which are valued
differently than ephemera or dishes or whatever. If there is a track
record of sales -- direct or via auction -- then a book value can be
established. But for one-of-a-kind items, or for those with a
limited audience, the value is essentially whatever someone wants to
pay and the seller is willing to accept.
In listening to appraisers on the Antiques Roadshow, I've noticed
that a thematic collection, especially one with documented
provenance, often is valued higher than if the parts were found
scattered. Objects by themselves may have modest value;
the "collection" of these objects is what gives them meaning and
On a good day, I can buy a copy of almost any DB book for under $20.
(The exceptions are "In An Old Hawaiian Garden" and the books that
precede "Vagabond's House.") Condition, edition and provenance are
A couple of years ago, I paid $50 at a show for a decent copy
of "Flowers of the Rainbow." The tag price was $85; the dealer
wanted a sale, saw that I was spending time with that book and didn't
hesitate to drop the price. I was happy, he was happy. Now I see
people offering a copy in lousy condition for $150 and up.
Now, if I were to find a copy of "Flowers of the Rainbow" hand-
inscribed by DB to his mother, with date and place ... poor as I am,
money would be no object.
Auctions present a special case. Hawaiiana sells, as almost any
dealer will tell you. Put 2 or more bidders together and you get a
bidding frenzy. Is the object worth what the top bidder paid?
Probably not. The underbidders just want to make sure he pays a
whole lot more than he thought he would.
As for where a collection should be held, I think it's more important
to document what items exist, where, and what their estimated value
is based on whatever track record is available. Obviously, some DB-
related items already appear in value guides, including books and
Vernon Kilns dishes.
The Museum of the Great Plains probably has the largest concentrated
collection of memorabilia; collectively we as a group probably have a
great deal more. I like the idea of the Honolulu Academy of the Arts
being a repository, with the possibility of a permanent or rotating
display. DB was somewhat associated with the Academy from its
beginnings in 1927 (as a prominent member of the arts community). The
University of Hawaii, like most universities, houses collections for
research purposes, but it is not likely that public display of DB
memorabilia would be a priority. The Bishop Museum is not a
contender here; its focus is not on the arts or on Hawaiiana but on
the natural sciences. The Bishop Museum's website mentions DB
once, in connection with Lei Day: a link to my website.
- Good points everyone.
I guess the items in my collection that I consider to be the most
valuable are things that the average tourist to Hawaii wouldn't find
in the least bit interesting. Personal letters, books once owned by
DB, things given to relatives, personal snapshots of friends and
family. This is the collection that I feel the Great Plains Museum
would protect and save for future researchers.
If I owned original artwork of the Hawaiian Islands, drawings or
paintings, I would probably will those to a Honolulu museum. I could
see tourists wanting to see something like that. But I don't own any
of his artwork, so its a moot point for me.
As for his books, advertising mass-mailings, greeting cards and
pottery...heck there's enough of that out there to spread around to
everyone. There's so much of it, in fact, that I don't really care
who gets it.
- Re the trust:
Don Blanding is from Oklahoma and there was a museum show there a couple of
years ago that featured his work. I don't remember the name of the museum at
the moment. I know that seems out of his elements, but perhaps it would be
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