There are book collectors like me who feel guilty about paying more than $50 for a book and then there are book collectors like Jim Dourgarian who jump at a chance to buy five personally inscribed John Steinbeck first editions in one 30-minute span.
By the end of the auction Sunday, Dourgarian was the owner of five first editions from the collection of Elizabeth Steinbeck Ainsworth, the author's sister. Another buyer paid $47,800 for a copy of Steinbeck's Depression-era masterpiece "The Grapes of Wrath,'' which is believed to be the world record for an auction sale of a Steinbeck novel....
... Dourgarian made the time to jump into the auction and ended up with five first editions, including a copy of Steinbeck's first book, the 1929 "Cup of Gold,'' which he purchased for $21,510.
The price is a relative bargain for a book that's truly a one-of-a-kind piece for collectors, he said.
"These are the last of the closely held family books,'' Dourgarian said. "There's not a lot to trump his sister's copy, inscribed by Steinbeck.''
While the book and its garish cover, a bright picture of a pirate, is in less-than-pristine condition, it's an example of a book that was read and loved by the person who received it.
"Steinbeck and his sister were readers, and the books show it,'' Dourgarian said. "They weren't just bought to be put away.''
While I know that I will never be able to participate in something like this Steinbeck family auction, I sincerely appreciate those who spend their money on something that they love and want to preserve for future generations...even if these eventually get sold to another collector I have to believe that they will continue to be in good hands.