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Price of a valuable tome

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So lets say someone wants to sell a mythos tome to a collector in the 1920s USA. What would be a reasonable price? Any ballpark figures to go by?

The Pnakotic Manuscripts, Sélections de Livre D’Ivon, Amongst the Stones, and Life as a God. These are the specifics I am thinking about.

is $3500 for Pnakotic Manuscripts unreasonable?

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Whatever best serves the plot.  There are many things to consider.

Are the investigators motivated solely by profit? A museum might not be able to offer as much as a private collector, but it might be a more beneficial location.

Why does the buyer want it? You are in possession of several books of ancient and blasphemous knowledge that could be very dangerous in the wrong hands. When you are approached by an intermediary who says his employer is delighted to meet your asking price but his identity must remain secret, how confident do you feel about this exchange?

All that glitters is not gold. Some prices may take the form of unique opportunities, exchanges of information, valuable secrets. There are offers more enticing than a check.

food for thought.

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Who would sell such a book?

Someone who knew its true nature would never sell it, they would keep it, or maybe try to destroy it.

A thief or heir trying to dispose of an estate likely wouldn’t know what they had - to them it would just be a worthless mouldy old book, lucky to exchange it for the price of a good meal, or a bottle of rotgut...

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"If they bring up the matter directly, Erica may deny it at first, for it occurs to her that the old volumes may well be of considerable value to collectors, and she will want to have them appraised (as well as having the investigators investigated to see just who she’s dealing with). If the investigators have impressed her, she may decide to let them see the books, at the Keeper’s discretion."

p.134 Masks of Nyarlathotep

If she need the money or not is irrelevant, I just want to find a realistic price for rare collectors items in 1925


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Henry Huntington purchased a copy of the Gutenberg bible on vellum (of which only a dozen or so copies exist) in 1911 for the then record price of $50,000. At that same auction, a copy of Caxton's edition of Mallory's Morte d' Arthur sold for $42,800. But those were purchases by wealthy collectors intent on building world-class collections.

From my limited knowledge of such sales, rare book and manuscript prices could vary wildly based on many factors: provenance, relative scarcity of copies, condition, binding, whether sold by lot or en bloc, etc. Sometimes a real bargain could be found for only a few hundred dollars (if you were a shrewd and knowledgeable collector/buyer), but more often than not prices would be in the thousands. I don't think $3,500 for a copy of the Pnakotic Manuscripts is at all unreasonable. 

Edited by Kevin
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