Tuesday, December 12, 2006

From the collector community ....

Here's a comment from Robert Corey, who as you will see truly knows the collecting side, which he was gracious enough to let me port over from the eBay blog. I'll attach some notes from me as a comment; I do think the issues Robert raises are right at the heart of things.

And here's Robert:

Yah -- reading the first post does make the second seem less grandiose. I'm your basic occasional reader of Heinlein and Asimov. Not in any way drawn to science fiction, so no surprise this is the first I see your name.

I'm not certain how you can enforce the covenants you place upon the buyers. I just know that as an occasional non-profit accountant that conditional accessions are recorded in the books as a liability, until the conditions are satisfied. I've not encountered conditions of perpetuity -- they are more for gifts-in-kind than monetary -- more a museum concern than a human services concern. My museum work was never in accounting, but as a curatorial/coservation assistant. And the standard line there was "don't accept conditional accessions." -- Demand a no-strings letter of transmittal. If conditions are this onerous for gifts -- imagine how much more for purchases. I'm sure it's done. I doubt it's done gladly.
Dec-10-06 21:27:37 PST

1 comment:

John Barnes said...

Thanks very much -- this is exactly the kind of comment I was hoping to attract. Are there particular conditions that are especially onerous, or is it just the idea that there are any conditions at all that make it uncomfortable?

Enforcement on these things is always spotty at best and often really nonexistent; the idea is more that the collector commits to the availability than that the cops are going to come and force him to let Professor X look at his stuff. There are some collector clauses like this for art museums -- i.e. some museums will impose some conditions on future collectors -- but most of those have to do with not breaking the chain of provenance.

More thoughts, anyone?
Dec-11-06 04:27:02 PST

And a comment now that I've thought further: in collecting stuff like this, value derives partly from significance, and partly from the rights one holds. That is, if you are collecting Joe Novelist's papers, it's very much in your interest to have Arnold Professor and his grad students publishing papers about Joe, and teaching his books in their classes, and securing his position in literature. But on the other hand, the more rights you DON'T have, the less desirable it is to buy the package. Interesting problem; would one of our market enthusiasts (I know we have them among us) like to talk about that conflict?